At the Movies: Job Search Lessons from the Silver Screen | Career Rocketeer - Career Search and Personal Branding Blog

From my prior posts you may know I am a music lover and American Idol fan, and I try to keep my CR blog posts fresh, informative and entertaining 52 weeks a year. So a few weeks ago I thought I would have some fun and write a post on job search tips I gleamed from American Idol. In response I got this comment from Andrew C.; “Being in the careers space myself, I read a lot of content that is helpful for job-seekers. The correlation with American Idol was pure genius though. Sometimes in order to understand a set of circumstances better, you need to compare it with other situations that you're familiar with.” So today I will share my movie buff side with you and take you on a tour of the silver screen and see what we can learn “At The Movies.”


Lost in Translation
You know how great you are! Your former boss - the one who regretted laying you off – is going to miss taking credit for your ideas and accomplishments! The team members you led for the past X years know how much your valuable leadership skills will be missed! The vendors you dealt with will sorely miss your problem solving and relationship management skills! The receptionist will miss your warm smile and kind words of encouragement! The accounting, IT, sales and marketing departments will miss the little things you do that make their work product better than it will be without you! As a matter of fact everyone you have come into contact with in business knows that you are no Average Joe, and they can all attest to the fact that you are one of the best in the business at what you do. The only people who will think of you as just another one of the myriad number of average out of work employees, managers and executives are the people who judged you by your resume.

So here are two suggestions I think all job seekers, and especially mid level to senior level managers, VPs and CXO level executives should take to heart. One is to make sure you look as good on paper as you do in the flesh. Be very selective when choosing someone to help you write your resume. Make sure you are an equal partner and can collaborate freely with the resume writer; be carful what information you agree to put on or leave off your resume; and most important make sure your resume looks and reads crisp, clean and clear, and makes you come across as a candidate every prospective employer must meet.

My second tip is to accumulate as many written recommendations as you can from people who will validate your achievements and the truthful claims to greatness you have made on your resume. Post them on your linked-in page or personal website. Then direct people in your network and prospective employers to them by hyperlinking them to your resume or by word of mouth. If you are really bold you might even put two or three select references or quotes from them on your resume as validation of who you claim to be. What ever you do make sure the’ Hero Story’ you tell about yourself, a great prospective hire, does not get lost in the translation. If you are not sure where your resume stands ask for a free resume critique by sending me your resume at

You have heard and read this a hundred times before, however not every job hunter heeds this advise. A job search is in and of itself a full time job that requires serious game planning, meticulous execution, and a minimum commitment of 30 hours every week.

So how much time and effort do you put into your job search? Be honest now. Are you unemployed, slacking off, and putting golf, the gym, watching TV and personal tasks ahead of your job search way too often? If you are, I suggest you go to the nearest mirror, look yourself straight in the eyes and shout at the top of your lungs “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it.” Then make a commitment to yourself that from now on you will elevate your job search to the top, rather than keeping it in the middle or at the bottom of your list of “Important Things to do Today’.

Four Weddings and a Funeral
Gotcha…. you thought the previous tip was about networking for a job; well you were wrong, this one is. Being a Certified Social Media Strategist I am one of the biggest proponents of using Linked-in, Twitter, Facebook, blogs like this, and any quality social media outlet to network and establish your bonifides. Still equally important is the need for face-time. This is why you need to get out more and attend weddings, funerals, chamber of commerce meeting, alumni gatherings, CPE courses, network nights, workshops, and even religious events so you can see and be seen by the right people. As you can see I did not mention job fairs as I find them to be cattle calls, but there is a place for them as well.

You might have an outstanding virtual image but there is nothing like being out there and having people see you as a human being. Social media, websites, emailing and texting are all nice networking tools to use, but meeting with people face to face as often as possible should have a place near the top of your job search list of ‘Things To Do.’

Close Encounters of the Third Kind MEETS The Color of Money
Ok, the HR department loved you and so did the department manager who asked you how much you will accept, and then tells you he wants to make you a fair offer. All you need to do is “come in and see my boss, the VP, for a 10 minute meet and greet and it’s a done deal.” You go home and tell your spouse and best friend that the long wait is finally over, a new job is in the bag. Two days later you go into this meeting over-confident that the job is yours and you let down your guard. You dress and act a little more casually; you speak to the manager as if she is your life-long friend; you say things that contradict what you said before; and when she asks you how much you want you ask for 10% above what you told the department manager. A few days go by and you have not heard back from the company and they did not reply to your follow up emails. Then when you call and are lucky enough to get the department manager on the phone, not wanting to hurt your feelings he says “’I’m glad you called. I just got out of a meeting with the VP and we were told the job you interviewed for was just rescinded” or, “I’m sorry but a great candidate internal candidate just surfaced and the VP offered her the job.”

The scenario I just described in some form or another plays out every day at every level in the fickle word of job search. So whatever you do keep the immortal words of the Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra in mind, “It aint over till it’s over.” Remember to keep your guard up at all times; treat every interview as if it’s your first interview and you have to sell the heck out of yourself to this person; and be very carful how and with whom you negotiate salary. In my experience a new job is never in the bag until the day you start work, so beware of what you say and do every step along the way.

A Nightmare On Elm Street
Most people I question tell me that interviewing is the most frightening aspect of their job search. Quite a number of them tell me that they are happy to get a chance to sell themselves, but once they walk in the door they are as comfortable as they would be alone, in a dark alley at midnight with Freddy Kruger. For most of us this is only natural; no one likes to be on the hot seat, and many people who are going on job interviews today are more accustomed to being on the other side of the desk asking the questions, as opposed to having the questions directed at them by someone they feel is their inferior. To improve your interviewing skills, I recommend you put together a “Board of Directors” consisting of professional people who know you well (try to include a few from your field) and who you trust and will not feel embarrassed in front of.

When you convene the first board meeting the agenda should be to discuss what general and specific questions you might expect on a phone or live first interview, and brainstorm what you think should be the proper responses. At the next meeting begin your mock interviews around a desk or table. Appoint a ‘Director’ who will handle the video camera and the rest of the board members will take turns as the interviewers. You can then practice 15-30 minute interviews having them ask you the same and different questions in different interview roles. One scenario is a friendly HR first interview and another is a hard nosed interrogation style first interview. In subsequent tapings you can conduct the technical and/or line manager’s interview, the let’s get down to the nitty gritty interview, the final decision maker interview, and most important the salary negotiation interview.

At the end of each session, or the beginning of the next, you need to review the tape and judge several factors: How did you answer the questions; how was your body language; how was your eye contact; how was your voice modulation; did you come across as convincing, nervous, unprepared, cocky, too light weight, too overqualified, too arrogant, or too humble. Another thing is when you go on an actual job interview, as soon as you can jot down the questions you were asked, your responses and any notes that stick out in you mind. After a number of mock and real interviews you will hopefully find your comfort zone and confidence, and get job offers instead of rejection notices.

The Devil Wears Prada
Didn’t you love how the clothes changed Ann Hathaway’s personality in this movie, and took her from being an outcast to be taken lightly to a real up and comer who people took seriously? A job seeker may have the brains, the skills and the experience an employer wants. But I have found that in most job interviews -just like in your resume- looking the part will be an equal if not a deciding factor in the decision making process, especially in certain fields where you are in the public eye such as retail, fashion, sales, and even public accounting. My suggestion is to designate in your current wardrobe at least one outfit and accessories (shit/blouse, tie/scarf, earring, shined shoes) that will be used almost exclusively for interviewing. If you don’t already have appropriate interview cloths go out and buy some. If you are short on cash arrange with a friend or family member to borrow a suitable interview outfit, or check the web to see if there are organizations in your area that loan people clothes for job interviews.

Now it’s your turn: To better help me help others in their job search efforts please rate this article and leave a comment.


Perry Newman, CPC CSMS is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, career coach, AIPC certified recruiter and SMMU certified social media strategist known for his ability to help his clients get results. You can view his sample resumes at and email him your resume at for FREE resume critique.

Posted via web from AndyWergedal