American Idol and Your Job Search – Part 2

American IdolLast week I spoke about lessons to be learned from the audition stage of American Idol. This week I’ll focus on the judges and judging.

The first thing I noticed this season is how much of a difference there is in the talent level in 2011 compared to 2010 based solely on the quality of the new decision makers. Last year Ellen and Kara were horrendous at judging talent and it showed. This year with Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are in their seats, Simon retired, and the talent pool all of a sudden is awesome.

So lesson # 1 is to beware that good judges will exponentially increase the level of competition in your job search, and in most cases the quality and sophistication of corporate talent acquisition specialist has risen dramatically over the past few years. So you need to be at the top of your game in everything you do and say.

Next let’s listen to what the judges have said in terms of judging musical talent and see how it applies to you and your job search.

First off one of the most frequent comments you hear early on when there is lots of competitors to choose from, and when they are all highly talented, and they are all singing someone else’s hit song goes like this: “dawg I liked it, it was Ok but it didn’t move me because you didn’t make it your own.” To me this is especially indicative of how your resume will be judged. You are an accountant, a paralegal, a CIO, a project manager, a VP Sales, a marketing manager and there are hundreds of people out there who look just like you based on the generic job title you all share. So your first job is to impress the judges by taking your resume and making it your own. Give it a look and feel in terms of both style and content that does not shout, “Ok dawg I’m just another resume writer in the pile a of 500 other resume writers.” What you need to do is make your resume hit all the high and low notes and all the ones in between that says “Steven, J Lo, Randy look at me I’m Perry Newman and I’m the best resume writer and Career Coach in America, and I’m going to be the next American idol.”

The next thing you will notice in the judging, especially online is decisions are not based on talent alone. Decision makers judge talent on a combination of talent, likability and how well you establish a connection with them.

What people look for is the real you not a phony. If your style is country western or you’re a rocker please don’t change, just show your versatility. Get people to like you more than your skills. This is how you will ace an interview and get hired.

Finally play to the audience. Make people feel you care about them. This is especially important in writing a cover letter. Most cover letters I read try and sell me on how good you are and at the end of the day I have 200 people each telling me that they’re looking for a job and I’m the best widget maker I will find.

Then on rare occasion I will come across a cover letter in the stack that tells me how great my company is and why they want not just the generic job, but the generic job in my company. All things being equal, this person moves to the top of my ‘To See’ list.

Tune in next week for another installment.


Perry Newman, CPC CSMS is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, career coach, AIPC certified recruiter and SMMU certified social media strategist known for his ability to help his clients get results. You can view his sample resumes at, and email him your resume at for FREE resume critique.

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