Taylor Swift, Whitney Houston, KRS-One and YOUR Job-Search

I am an absolute music lover – from Zeppelin to Alison Kraus to Snoop to Adele to Leo Kotke (look him up), I listen to a (almost) little bit of everything. With two big happenings in the world of music this weekend (the Grammy’s and the untimely passing of Whitney Houston) I thought it would be worthwhile to see what job-search lessons could be learned from the world of musical entertainment.

Taylor Swift. Living in Nashville I hear my fair share about Taylor Swift and although I don’t know much about her music (other than I don’t listen to it)  the one thing I do know is that if you have any interaction with her you will probably end up in one of her song’s.

To start things off today I am going to channel my inner T. Swift (if there is such a thing) and share a recent interaction I had on LinkedIn with someone who is looking for a new job because of the lessons that can be learned there. Here is how it went down:

  • Received and accepted an invitation to connect on LinkedIn
  • Received a message on LinkedIn from the person mentioned above  saying, “Any opportunities in Nashville area?” (yes, that was the entire message)
  • I replied back with an honest answer, “I don’t recruit in the Nashville area but I know that there are a lot of opps here.”
  • He replied back, “Send me who I should contact.”
  • Still trying to be civil I sent the following message “I am not really sure what you are looking for. “Any opportunities in Nashville area?” doesn’t really tell me much. Let me know how I can help and I will see what I can do to do so.”
  • Finally, he decided to lay his cards on the table and he replied with, “Sales mgmt positions and positions higher than I am currently. My passion is the (leaving industry out) world. Would love to start a program for a (leaving out) in this area. Very few people have my track record.”

You would be surprised how often exchanges like this take place – if you want people to help you in your search there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • A phone call is best. Emails and messages on LinkedIn are too easy to overlook and delete.
  • If you are going to ask someone for help be a bit more specific than, “any opportunities in the Nashville area” and be a bit more respectful than demanding “send me who should I contact”.

Whitney Houston. By all accounts Whitney Houston was an extremely talented women who started off very strong and ended her life on a rollercoaster of ups and down. In looking at her life there are some definite job-search and career lessons that can be learned:

  • Have an impact on the world around you. In looking at the tweets that started to roll out after her death you could see the impact that her music had on people who grew up in the 80’s. What impact is your work having on those that around you?
  • Nurture and manage your career. Your career is a living breathing organism and if you don’t manage it, work on it, and keep it in shape it will lose its luster. See the latter part of Mrs. Houston’s career as evidence.
  • Stretch yourself. She could have just continued to bang out hit records but Mrs. Houston chose to spread her wings a bit and try acting. How have you spread your wings? What new skills have you picked up to add to your toolbox? If your answer is ‘none’ you better start working on that quick.
  • Be conscious of your brand (and yourself). It’s unfortunate that with as talented as she was I will always remember her more for saying “hell to the no” and acting crazy than her countless hits and beautiful voice. If you are not managing your brand and how you are viewed by it can lead to disastrous results.

KRS-One. Although he is not as relevant anymore as he was in the 90’s, KRS-One is still on of my favorites in hip-hop. He is a very talented rapper and producer who was also very conscious that he had a platform to make a social difference.

One of his song’s, Step into a World (Raptures Delight), contains a couple of lines that I think should be the basis for everything you do in an interview:

I’m not sayin I’m number one, uhh I’m sorry, I lied
I’m number one, two, three, four and five.

If you are not trying and able to convince whomever is interviewing you that you are not only the best candidate for that particular role, but also numbers two, three, four, and five then you are leaving too much wiggle room for the next person to steal away the opportunity from you.

Three different stars, three different genre’s of music, many, many lessons learned. Think next year I will start handing out trophies.

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!


2 responses to “Taylor Swift, Whitney Houston, KRS-One and YOUR Job-Search

  1. Excellently presented, relevant, timely and entertaining. Thank you, Matt.

  2. Great insight! Thanks for your article.

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