Career Management Lessons from a TV Show?

Believe it or not, you can learn valuable career management lessons from television shows. The lessons come in two flavors: good and bad.

Good or Bad Career Management Lessons

Successful TV shows can go on for years and remain popular with many viewers. Other shows limp out of the starting-gate and fall on their face before they get through season 1. What can you learn from this for your career management and job search plans?

For one thing, success depends on multiple factors, some of which are highly unreliable, such as fickle public tastes. Something is received enthusiastically for a while and then dropped, or a particular theme might resonate with viewers while one that’s similar fails to strike a spark with the public.

On the other hand, the television industry isn’t always known for innovation. The opinion seems to be that if something worked well once, it should work for multiple versions of that idea. Occasionally a “franchise” will develop a successful, long-term track record, but in other cases, that doesn’t happen.

You can learn at least a couple of things from these situations:

  1. Success doesn’t follow a predictable pattern, and mindless repetition of what worked once doesn’t guarantee ongoing success.
  2. Breaking new ground can work well if its core message touches something in people that convinces them to accept its value proposition.

3 Career Tips from TV Shows

The television industry sometimes gets in a rut because a concept worked once and because relying on the tried-and-true seems easier than coming up with a new idea. If you’ve been using the same job search techniques for a decade because they’ve worked for you, that’s fine; but what happens when suddenly they stop working?

You need to get out of that rut and look at what’s going on. Is your approach not getting results now because the work world has changed too much and you haven’t kept pace? Maybe you need to start trying new things!

Is that comfortable? Not always, but it might be critical to your ongoing career success.

So what are some pointers you can get from TV shows?

  1. Size up the challenge and pick the approach most likely to get off to a good start. If you’ve been using the same job search methods for a while, look for new ones. For example, decades ago the internet wasn’t a factor in career management or job searches. Now it’s a huge piece of the puzzle.
  2. Keep in mind your intended audience (e.g., potential employers) and build your “program” around what you believe will attract that audience. In TV terms, that means you research what the audience has liked and might well like going forward. For employers, you check out what they’ve indicated they need and want, what problems you can help them solve, etc.
  3. Offer something that sets you apart from the competition. Too many lookalike shows will often do each other in, unless one of them has a quality or characteristic that makes it stand out. You need to provide a unique value message in your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and any other tools you use to get your message in front of potential employers.

You’ll attract more employer attention and hold their interest more effectively if you keep these points in mind. The goal, of course, is to move them to action–job interviews and, ultimately, job offers from your target employers.

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