You may find inspiration for advancing your career in magazines, or on websites and blogs...but on television shows?? It might surprise you, but there are many programs on TV these days that can teach you a thing or two about business.
AMC’s latest reality show, The Pitch, follows top ad agencies as they compete for big accounts. But you don’t have to be in advertising to get something out of the show.
1. Come prepared. Once the teams get their assignments, they’re nonstop on delivering the results. Everything about the client is researched, and the teams have a fully developed pitch. What this means for you is: do your homework. Whether you’re going in for an interview, or want to pitch yourself for a promotion, make sure you find out everything you need to know to sell yourself.
2. Have a backup plan. Some of the ideas these ad agencies come up with are so off the wall, there’s no way they’ll be implemented. But the smart ones have a few ideas up their sleeves, which keeps them in the running when a conservative client vetoes the original bad zany idea.If you’re in a meeting or interview, don’t rely on one idea to sell yourself; have a few. You never know if a hiring manager will be traditional or more liberal, so feel out the situation before pitching the wrong strategy.
3. Invest in looking good. The agencies on the show don’t walk into a client’s office with a half-sketched idea on a napkin. They fully develop their pitches, down to creating websites and marketing materials to support them. As a job candidate, the quality of your presentation counts. You should show you’ve invested time and thought into your resume and portfolio materials. If you have business cards, get a designer to create them; don’t go the cheap route with a template. Make sure everything you present is polished and professional.
ABC gives us the insider’s view of companies pitching investors for funding with Shark Tank. You may not be asking for a million bucks to start a business, but you’ll still pick up valuable tips for selling yourself to employers.
4. Don’t look dumb. It never fails: one of the sharks asks a business owner a question about revenue or valuation, and the owner just stands there and stares, no answer coming forth. Don’t be that guy. Prepare in advance for possible questions an employer could ask you in an interview. In the event that you don’t have an answer, have something to say instead, like, “That’s a great question, and one I’d like to come back to after I’ve had some time to consider it.”
5. Know your worth. Business owners on Shark Tank rarely understand what their companies are worth. Instead, they seem to assign numbers out of thin air, which turns off the investors. Walk into an interview or salary negotiation situation armed with information about what this role typically pays, as well as what your experience is worth.
6. Know your audience. The business owners who have researched the sharks on the show appeal to the sharks’ egos, and stand a better chance of making a business deal. Before heading to an interview, get as much intel as you can about the person interviewing you. Find her on LinkedIn or other social sites, and see if you can find out any personal details that might come in handy to put her at ease. If, for example, her Facebook profile mentions her recent trip to Tahoe, ask her about it. Creating small talk makes the interview go well.
The Celebrity Apprentice
A spinoff of the original Apprentice show, The Celebrity Apprentice is the same concept: participants must complete business-related tasks in the hopes that they’ll win the favor of the ever-grumpy Donald Trump.
7. Don’t engage in mind games. Trump is notorious for his “You’re fired!” line. He’s certainly not the coddling type of boss. But if an employer or hiring manager seems to be giving you the runaround, or otherwise playing with your mind in an interview, don’t engage. This probably isn’t the type of person you’d want to work for anyway.
8. Dress for the part you want. Sure, the celebrities on the show have personal designer clothes, but you can take inspiration from their wardrobe to make yourself look polished, professional and confident.
The Office may not be your idea of a great work environment, but it’s realistic in that no office setting is perfect.
9. Have a sense of humor. Dwight and Jim have a constant battle of hijinks going on. It may detract from their work, but it keeps the office an interesting place to be. Show your less serious side on the job from time to time, and you’ll find it easier to get along with coworkers.
10. Avoid office romance. Anyone looking at Kelly and Ryan can see that dating someone in the office is a train wreck waiting to happen. Work life is much simpler when you take romance out of the equation.