Think like an actor... and get the job!17 July 2012
By Tamira Hamam
IT IS a truth universally acknowledged that a university graduate nowadays is probably in want of a job.
We’re more connected than ever through social media and the Internet, but it only makes us more aware of the vast amount of competition we face. Even getting to interview stage for a position you’re over-qualified for seems like a feat these days.
And once you get there? Just how do you impress at an interview, make sure you’re the face that stays in their mind, and get that job? My friends, I present to you, the humble actor...
Time to prove yourself
I chose my degree in the beautiful summer of 2007 when the economy was abundant and bubbling along, though to be honest I wouldn’t have known that anyway as I only started taking an interest in the job market when it started to directly affect me and my livelihood.
I thought, like most bright-eyed graduates, that I would finish my degree and hop, skip and jump straight into employment. After all, receiving a 2:1 on any degree, never mind that it was in acting, would be quite an achievement! Sound familiar?
It was only when I reached the job centre and was sat next to a law student and a guy with a first-class masters degree in geography that I started to piece this all together. A degree, however hard-earned and respectable, is not the difference between the hiring and firing of candidates anymore.
It’s about proving yourself, every step of the way. And that’s where, a few months after graduating, I started to be oddly grateful about my choice of degree.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
Network, self-promote, make friends and never be shy to call in a favour. We’re taught this from day one at drama school. It might sound corny, but you never know who’s going to give you your big break, and you’ve got to always be ready to take opportunities as they come.
Even if it feels outside of your comfort zone, get chatting to people, ask questions. Actors are more comfortable doing this because we’re told from day one that we’re going to have to put ourselves forward for every chance we get in order to see any kind of positive results.
Whilst it might not be the most encouraging message to hear, the truth is that the job market in every industry is demanding that kind of action from potential employees now.
If you need practice, extend daily interactions you don’t even think about, like talking to a cashier after grocery shopping or checking in with a next door neighbour.
Building up your confidence in conversation is a muscle you can flex only by practice, practice, practice!
One day you’re in, the next you’re out
It’s easy to take a Debbie Downer attitude when you hear statements like this, but are you going to use this as a negative or positive? If a job is only temporary, focus on what taking it on will mean for YOU.
Maybe you’re adding a new skillset to your CV or maybe you’re making contacts and aligning yourself with a company you really want to work with in the future. Think of your life as a combination of puzzle pieces making a bigger picture of ‘who you are’ in a career sense, rather than imagining your career path as one continuous line to destination CEO. Your experiences might just be giving you all the components you need to go it alone, or land a job you had never even considered before – take it from an acting graduate who is now working as a freelance writer!
Horse riding? Sky-diving? Hula-hooping? No problem!
Now let’s be clear here guys – a lot of people lie on their CV. And I’m not condoning or endorsing that in any way. But picking up a new skill is always useful. So many times at an interview or audition I have been asked the question: Do you rollerblade? Do you ice-skate? Ever spoken Spanish? My answer is always the same. No, but I’ll give it a shot!
Being open and adaptable to whatever life throws at you is a great quality and mantra to live by, but outside of that, once you have mastered that skill, you’ve just bumped up your CV, my friend! Neat, huh?
It might sound like common sense, and often it is, but confidence, a can-do attitude and tenacity are all something that I got out of my acting degree – even if the confidence thing is a little faked.
Nobody ever got anywhere they wanted to be by being 100% sure of themselves, and once you let go of that pressure on yourself you’ll find a lot of the daunting things in life can become a lot easier, more interesting and even fun!
Never underestimate your ability to grow, adapt and excel. Still in doubt? Imagine your audience naked. Always works for me!
Pic credit: freedigitalphotos.net