Oscar edition: When job-hunting is like the movies

March 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm Leave a comment

Okay, I know the Oscars are just a big marketing and PR event for Hollywood, still, as a movie buff I can’t help but caught up in the hype! So today’s blog post will look at some of the nominated films with an eye toward what they can tell us about job hunting and landing the job that’s right for you.

In my year-end ’09 post (Dec. 31, “When life (and jobs) are like the movies”) I looked at a few films and what they told us about jobs. Those included “Up In the Air,” (which obviously has a great deal about jobs and job loss to recommend it), “Up,” “Julie and Julia,” and “A Serious Man.” So today, I’ll focus on others and while this is mostly a light “popcorn” exercise, there still are some messages that job hunters can take away from these nominated flicks:

*”Crazy Heart.” In this movie that’s worth the ticket price for the music (I’m buying the soundtrack!) as well as the story, Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake, a down-on-his-luck country singer who has had (of course) many marriages, many miles on the road in his old truck and many drinks along the way. Yet he keeps performing — because he loves the music — and figures out a way to make a comeback. (Bridges, by the way, is fabulous and will be robbed if he doesn’t get the Oscar for best actor.) The takeaway for job hunting is that it offers a portrait of how to be resilient and bounce back after life and the workplace kicks you in the pants. It also has a good message about mentors and mentorees, and how, over the years, they sometimes change roles. Another message: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are often awaiting for you to do so.

*”The Blind Side.” A feel-good movie (a bit sappy for my taste, though solid performances save it from itself) about a homeless teenager who has drifted in and out of the school system for years. He becomes an unlikely football star after an unlikely family takes him in and makes him part of their lives. The main character ends up using his strengths, which at first seem tough to find, to propel himself to success. A takeaway for job hunters: Sometimes unlikely strengths — in this case, the young football player’s protective instincts — are your best weapons in finding a job and then succeeding at it. So determine your strengths and then make the best use of them to land well.

*”An Education.” With a great performance by newcomer Carey Mulligan as 16-year-old Jenny Mellor, who lives with her parents in the London suburb of Twickenham in the early 1960s and is just waiting for life to happen to her, this movie shows that all the book knowledge in the world doesn’t make up for what you learn from your relationships and life in general. Though Jenny’s pushy (to say the least) father wants only for her to be accepted to Oxford, the gifted Jenny has other ideas about her life. The message for job hunting here is to use your hard-won experience — in your resume and through your network — to help you land a job and to keep you away from the positions that aren’t right for you. You’ll know.

*Finally, “Avatar,” the blockbuster money-maker that is sure to garner Oscars if only because Hollywood owes it a huge thank-you for its box-office prowess. Beyond the technical gymnastics here, there is a message in the 3-D tale of a wounded ex-Marine who finds himself becoming part of hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, which for the few among you who hasn’t seen the movie is a human mind in an alien body, he must learn to adjust to the other planet’s climate and especially its people and their culture, or he won’t succeed in his mission. There is a job-hunting takeaway here and it’s simple: Cultural differences aren’t always so easy to bridge, especially in the workplace. Make sure an organization’s cultural norms fit with yours before you accept a position there.

*Some exciting news to share today for two supporters of this blog who have landed well:

*Chris Lehmann, one of the most talented editors I’ve ever worked with (and I’ve worked a lot of places!),  has started a new job in D.C. as  managing editor of a newsblog operation at Yahoo. Chris left CQ in the layoffs following the Economist Group’s purchase of the company last September. The as-yet-unnamed Yahoo project will launch this summer or fall. Meanwhile, Chris says they are posting pretty regularly at this site: http://news.yahoo.com/blog.

*Katherine Warminsky, who left the American Society for Training & Development in November as part of the job cuts there, has landed a position as senior designer at the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation in D.C. When she starts March 22, she will be assisting in their rebranding efforts, designing technical reports and marketing materials, as well as assisting in the redesign of the foundation’s Web site. When asked how she landed the job, Katherine gave this concise formula: “I would say it was a bundle of personality, portfolio, and professionalism.” She went on to say a few things about what helped in her search that I’m going to repeat here, as I think it could be of help to job hunters:

“When I was laid off, as traumatic as it was, I realized that it was a great opportunity to find a job that I wanted, really wanted. And that meant not applying to lots of jobs that I did come across. I also immediately signed up with placement agencies so that I could supplement my loss of income while still looking for a job.”

Also this, “I always, always do my homework on the organization and whomever I am meeting with and try to take an objective look at what they do and how I can improve on it. For example, I was asked to come and interview at a design firm. The night before I did a little googling and came across some SCATHING information about the people and their  business as well as previous business. Big red flag for me! I did go on the interview for experience, though, knowing I wouldn’t take the job.”

Great advice. Congratulations to Chris and Katherine, and much success to them in their new jobs!

*As always, some leads to pass along:

*The Department of Homeland Security in D.C. has an opening for a writer/editor:

Writer/Editor, GS-1082-13 (DEU)
DHS Headquarters – Washington, DC
of experience and/or training in the following areas… extent and quality of experience, education, and training in relation to these competencies, candidates… $89,033 – $115,742 a year
From usajobs.gov

*Gallup has an opening in D.C. for a senior government communications professional:

Senior Government Communication and Marketing Professional
Gallup – Washington, DC
include a growing Communication and Social Marketing… of experience with communication and social marketing projects is required. Prior communication/public…
From Monster

*Discovery Communications in Silver Spring is looking for a supervising editor:

Supervising Editor
Discovery Communications, Inc. – Silver Spring, MD
Media Management • Editor and facility support… customer service and communication skills. A Supervising Editor is not only tasked with supporting…
From Discovery Communications, Inc.

*The Associated Press has an opening in D.C. for an intelligence reporter:

The Associated Press seeks an Intelligence Reporter for its Washington, D.C. location.

This newsperson develops and maintains sources in the intelligence community including officials working for the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, CIA, FBI, Congress, Pentagon, Homeland Security Department, National Security Council, State Department and Energy Department.  Sources must extend far beyond public relations staff.  This newsperson reports and writes high-impact enterprise and breaking news stories based on U.S. and international intelligence, with a special focus on terrorism and counter-terrorism.  Keeps AP far ahead of the competition with hard-news stories, trend spotting and “conceptual scoops.”  This position works with colleagues in Washington and AP bureaus across the globe on stories with intelligence threads.  He or she provides prompt and knowledgeable responses to AP member and bureau requests and questions.


The successful candidate must be an established reporter with a large and active network of sources in the intelligence community.  Applicants must have at least five years experience as a reporter, including at least three in an intelligence-related reporting and/or editing job for a major media organization.  At least five years of Washington experience preferred.  Demonstrated ability to develop sources and break stories against intense competition and on deadline.  Demonstrated ability to present information clearly, quickly and accurately.  Good writing skills a must, along with a willingness to explore new forms of online and mobile storytelling.  The ideal candidate must be versatile, aggressive, productive and adaptable, with an enthusiasm for the AP’s mission of watchdog journalism.  Bachelors degree or equivalent experience preferred.  The successful candidate must have good interpersonal skills.

Lolita C. Baldor

Associated Press

Counterterrorism/National Security



*An organization in D.C. that produces in-depth news projects is looking for a reporter to join its Business/Finance team to focus on investigative work regarding the continuing fallout from the financial meltdown and the housing crisis, financial re-regulation legislation, the financial regulatory agencies and the Fed. They’re looking for a high-energy, aggressive digger who is enthusiastic about long-form reporting. Candidates also should be well-sourced in this subject matter.  If interested, please contact me (here, on Facebook or LinkedIn or at jodifs@verizon.net) and I will put you in touch with the hiring manager.

*And today’s final lead is for an upcoming internship/educational fair for young adults and students ages 17-24 who are seeking opportunities to work in the environmental field. Please pass this along to those you know who are looking for internships or entry-level positions in this field (and free parking in Bethesda — that’s something in itself!):

The Bethesda Green Internship Fair – On Saturday, March 27th from 11am until 3:30pm, Bethesda Green will offer young adults and students ages 17-24 an opportunity to explore careers in “Fields of Green” through local internships, apprenticeships and education. The goal of this initiative is to create green jobs through raising awareness and inspiring young adults to pursue careers and majors in these critically evolving fields.  In addition to offering information and panel discussions, the event will include a number of exhibiting companies and academic institutions.  This event will take place at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (B-CC RSC) located at 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.  The B-CC RSC is directly across the street from the Bethesda Metro.  Free parking is available.  For more information, please visit: www.bethesdagreen.org

Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

How to handle the question of where else you’re looking How to handle the unprepared interviewer

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