Sunday, March 25, 2012

What Job Seekers Can Learn from “American Idol”

When employers and/or hiring managers decide they are going to ‘add to the corporate family', they will do the following:

  • Decide to search for a superstar - Regardless of the size of the company or organization, they will employ a panel of judges, either though panel interviews or successive interviews to critique the contestants' [read candidates’] performances.
  • Devise and employ an effective selection process - The selection process will include reviewing résumés and/or recommendations from trusted sources. 
  • Advertise the opportunity - Hold an open audition to collect applications
  • Cull the number of applications - They will eliminate all of the candidates who do not have the minimally required skill set
  • Invite prospective candidates in for an initial audition [read 1st interview] - Successful ‘auditionees’ [read candidates] will appear/perform either on the phone, through a video conference set up, or in person where, if unremarkable, they will be cut.
  • Decide on a’ winner’ -  N.B The 'winner' is not necessarily the one with the best credentials.
Talent plays a significant role in the competition, afterall, brilliance is difficult to ignore.  True talent, however, is not just an acquired and accomplished set of skills.  Winning talent is a unique combination of many different traits and a couple of elements that lay outside of the contestant's' [candidate's] control.

Side note:
From a psychologicaland scientific perspecive, researchers James C. Kaufman and Michelle Evans looked at college-age students' perceptions of their own creativity in math, science, writing, and art and found very little agreement between self-ratings and expert ratings of their output. Self-delusion, it seems, cuts across all boundaries including age, sex, ethnicity and education.

The three abilities that were absolutely necessary as a baseline were intrinsic motivation, charisma and a basic skill set:

  • Those with intrinsic motivation have a genuine love for the industry [profession].  They aren't doing it just for the paycheque.
  • Those with charisma are able to draw people in with their dynamic personalities.  A major component of charisma is what psychologists call "expressive control, i.e. "the ability to impress and/or entertain others.
  • The other distinguishing trait that offers an edge includes the ability to influence others (referred to as "social potency") and a creative personality.
While all these traits are certainly influenced by the environment and some may be learned, not all can.  Those who have 'it' most naturally, without self-conscious effort, will prove to have the edge over those who attain 'it' only through a painful struggle.

The news here, isn’t all bad.  Historically, a lot can be said for the ‘losers’ on the show.  Perhaps one of the most notable unsuccessful contestants when on to accomplish far more than she ever could have, had she ‘won’ during the 3rd season of “American Idol”.  Although Jennifer Hudson came in 7th place in the competition in 2004, she did go on to earn the following:
·        Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and Breakthrough Performer of 2006
·        Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Supporting Role 2006
·        Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Screen Actors Guild, named her the Best Supporting Actress
·        The third African-American celebrity, and the first African-American singer, to grace the cover of Vogue magazine [March 2007 issue]
·        British Academy Film and Television Award [BAFTA] for Best Supporting Actress in  2007
·        Academy Award [Best Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls] in 2007
·        Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 2007 ["Love You I Do" ]
·        Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media in  2008
·        Grammy Award for her self titled debut album in 2009 [Best R&B]

It is quite likely that Jennifer was devastated by losing ‘American Idol’, but sometimes, when life throws you a curve, it is not always ‘bad’ thing. Do you agree or not?

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at