Selasa, 24 Agustus 2010

Career Lessons You Can Learn From Reality TV

by Doug White, Robert Half International

On the new reality TV show "America's Toughest Jobs," people with everyday careers leave behind the safe confines of their traditional workplaces to tackle some truly challenging assignments. The contestants, including an administrative assistant, an investment banker, and a sales representative, among others, bravely take on some of the most dangerous, demanding, and dirty jobs imaginable.

The likely lesson viewers will take away from this series: "Maybe my job isn't so bad after all." But this isn't the only pearl of career wisdom you can gain by tuning into reality TV. Here are a few more:

Start off on the Right Foot

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This adage rings true in both the reality TV and business worlds. In the opening episode of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," for instance, contestants vie for a "first impression rose" based on their appearance and a few moments of introductory chitchat. Those with lackluster debuts are the first to go.

While you won't receive flowers from interviewers for demonstrating poise and professionalism, it is still critical to win over hiring managers early. In a Robert Half International survey, executives said it takes them just 10 minutes to form an opinion of a job seeker.

Help your cause by dressing professionally to an interview, having a positive attitude, and showing that you've done your homework by researching the prospective employer before the meeting.

Accept Criticism With Class

Tension makes for great television. That's why reality shows feature sharp-tongued judges and contestants who respond to criticism by arguing and blaming poor performances on everyone but themselves.

But when it comes to the real world, being combative and shirking responsibility are surefire ways to damage your career prospects and professional reputation. While receiving a less-than-glowing appraisal of your work from your manager isn't easy, try to learn from the feedback instead of becoming defensive.

Keep in mind that most critiques are intended to help you grow and improve. And keep your head up. Don't allow one letdown to overshadow all the past praise and successes you've enjoyed.

Strengthen Your Time-Management Skills

Tough tasks with nearly impossible deadlines also are staples of reality TV. And the people who tend to fare best on competition shows such as "Project Runway," "Top Chef," and "The Amazing Race" are the ones who are smart and strategic about managing their time. They know the deadline, prioritize their tasks, and don't allow themselves to get sidetracked.

As reality TV shows indicate, raw talent and creativity are key components to success, but so is making good use of the clock and keeping cool under pressure. It's also advantageous to pad your schedule so you can handle any surprises that arise. If your workload seems too high to manage, speak to your supervisor about pushing some tasks to the back burner or delegating assignments to ensure you are able to complete the most critical tasks.

Finally, play fair and build rapport with others. Sure, the good guys don't always win on TV, but more often than not, it's the affable, team-oriented employees who come out on top.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit For additional workplace articles and podcasts, visit

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