I am old enough to remember when MTV actually played music videos and after his finally got into the rotation, nobody was bigger than Michael Jackson. His string of hits, from Billy Jean to Beat It to Thriller, ensured that you could turn on the television at almost any time and catch one of his videos or short films.
Although his life took some very interesting and controversial turns he still remained an important figure in the music industry which was very obvious from the reaction to his death. A lot can be learned from the way Michael Jackson carried himself throughout his life and career, including the following six lessons that can be applied to the way you conduct a job-search.
1) Always strive to put the best product possible out there. One of the things that has been said time and time again over the last few days is that Michael Jackson was a perfectionist and always wanted to put the best product possible on the market, whether it be an album or live performance.
The take away- Do the same in your search. Take a look at your product (you, your résumé, your on-line presence, your stage presence, etc.) and make it the best you can. It is a very competitive market and if you are not willing to go the extra mile to make your product the best someone out there someone else will.
2) Don’t ever stop working hard, no matter how successful you are. It would have been very easy for Michael Jackson to stop after the success of Thriller but he kept on striving to push the envelope and grow his career and legacy and in doing so came out with some terrific albums and videos that further solidified has place as one of the best ever.
The take away – It is very easy to put your job-search on-hold because you landed an interview or because you found out a company is interested in you. Your job-search should never stop, even when you land your next opportunity. Always continue to network and keep your eyes and ears open because you never know what tomorrow brings.
3) Give back to the community. From We Are The World to supporting over 30 charities to giving his time for causes he believed in, there is no doubt that Michael Jackson realized the importance of community involvement and worked to help others who were less fortunate.
The take away – No matter how bad your situation is there is always someone who has it far worse than you. Taking a few minutes out of your day to help others, whether you are working or not, can benefit you (and them) in a number of ways.
4) Don’t put yourself in situations that can be viewed as controversial. One of Michael Jackson’s downfalls is that he put himself in situations that, whether guilty or not, definitely swayed the public against him and tarnished his legacy.
The take away – Stay away from things that can be viewed as even remotely controversial and cause you to lose out on an opportunity (i.e. the off-color joke in an interview, the inappropriate picture on Facebook or MySpace, etc).
5) Have people who can ALWAYS say something good about you. Even in his darkest hour, Michael Jackson had a whole group of people who were willing and able to say great things about his character and who he was as a person and a performer.
The take away - References are a huge part of the job-search process and you always need to have people on hand to say great things ab0ut your work and character.
6) Separate yourself from the crowd. Whether it be the glove, the moonwalk, the gravity defying lean from Smooth Criminal, or the video from Thriller, Michael Jackson always found a way to separate himself 0ut from the other acts that he was competing against for your attention and money.
The take away – In a crowded labor market it is important to figure out how to separate yourself to show an organization why they should hire you instead of the others that are going after the same opportunity.
Based on your knowledge of Michael Jackson’s life and career, what is your top take-away and/or recommendation on a lesson that applies to job-search?
Until next time, good hunting and good luck!!