Career Makeovers

by Danielle Dresden


Makeover shows are all the rage these days. Everything from your house to your car to your wardrobe could be ready for a re-do.

I think audiences like this particular strand of reality show because they actually have a dramatic arc: the problem is presented (run down home or wardrobe), action is taken (re-modeling or waxing) and the problem is solved (a great new look).

Let's use a style show to take a closer look at that arc. The first step usually seems to involve at least a little bit of humiliation. The participant, whether ambushed or self-selected, is forced to confront his or her wardrobe and get rid of items that might have been favorites. Then, after a bit of shopping and grooming, that participant emerges, like a butterfly.

Don't you wish you could do that for your career?

I've tried picking out a few truths from the makeover world and adapting them for the world of work.

Your stand-bys won't work: Just as that beloved fur vest might not be showing you off to your advantage, maybe the jobs you seek - or the way you go about looking for them - won't do it for you anymore, either. You need to update your career goals and job-hunting procedures.

It's important to make a statement: Style impresarios won't let any of their victims, I mean subjects, get away with trying to blend in, and that's a good tactic to adopt when you're on the job market or seeking to advance your career. Make it easy for job interviewers and networkers to remember you - in a good way, of course.

One change can do a lot: Perhaps you've seen how one simple thing - like a hair cut, or a change in footwear - can make a huge difference in a person's appearance. You can make a big difference in your career prospects if you make pro-active changes in fundamental things, such as the industry in which you're working, or your level of education, or maybe even your location. Take some time and try to imagine one basic change which could give your career a big boost.

Emphasize your assets: On a style show, it could be you hair, your height or your curves. In the work world, it could be your organizational skills, your ability to work with people, your creativity or some other quality. If we were talking sales speak it would be your value proposition - that unique attribute or cluster of attributes which you bring to a situation and no one else can. You won't need to accentuate these qualities with a scarf, or a belt, but you will need to make sure they stand out in your resume, cover letter and in face-to-face interviews.

What would you add to this list?

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