4 Career Lessons I Learned from the 2013 Academy Awards

OscarsThe Academy Awards – or more commonly, The Oscars—is a veritable gala, eagerly anticipated by millions of viewers across the country.  It’s a time when we all gather in front of our televisions to watch the stars parade across the red carpet, flaunting the latest fashions, and debate who wore it best.  The pageantry, the host, the presenters, the performances; there’s a little something for everyone.  Some people think award shows rot your brain, but if you saw the Oscars, there are some valuable career lessons you take away from it.

1)      Be aware of your audience, and have a filter.

This is particularly in reference to Seth McFarlane’s crude song, dedicated to all the actresses present who had exposed a part of themselves while portraying a character in a film. While there is a bit of comedy expected from Oscar hosts, it’s still a rather prestigious event, and a bit of class is expected.  As we saw in the wildfire reaction on the internet, and the blank expressions on his fellow actors, the performance and the joke fell flat.

So when you feel encouraged to bring a little levity to the world at work, be mindful of your company culture, your coworker’s sensitivities, and HR policies.  There are plenty of places where you can make a remark that is a bit off-color and be okay, but if you push it too far, you can face as little as a verbal reprimand or as much as sexual harassment charges and termination.  So, before you bust out the latest shtick from your favorite comedian to your coworkers or your boss, stop and consider what the possible repercussions could be.

 2)      Dress for success, but be comfortable in it.

We all cringed with Jennifer Lawrence when she tripped and fell on her face, while walking up the steps to receive her Oscar for Best Actress.  She recovered well, but later in an interview, she mentioned that she tried on the dress for the first time that morning. She looked absolutely ravishing, but her lack of practice with the dress contributed to an unfortunate moment in a time of high-emotion.

Most employers expect you to show up at a job interview wearing a suit, but how often do most of us actually wear them?  Two things stand out when someone wears a suit: How it fits you, and how you move in it.  You want your suit to fit you well, to present yourself as a clean, confident candidate; however, it’s just as important for you to be comfortable in it.  Hiring managers can spot someone who is uncomfortable in a suit a mile away, and it can sometimes cause problems in their perception of you.  If you’re going for a client-facing sales role in a corporate office, they want the guy who wears the suit—the suit doesn’t wear him. Being comfortable in a suit adds a whole layer of confidence.  On top of that, a job interview, or even regular work tasks, can be a high-stress environment, and you’re more likely to have a clothing-related accident if you aren’t used to wearing a suit.  So, dust off that garment bag in your closet, and start wearing your suit for a few hours every week.  The more often you put it on and work or move around in it, the more comfortable and confident you will be.

 3)      Always share the credit.

Out of twenty-three James Bond films that have graced the silver screen, with their iconic opening songs, they have never won an Oscar for Best Original Song—until Adele. When the soulful singer from the U.K. took the microphone to receive her award for Skyfall, she spoke a few words of thanks to the studios, sang the praises of her producer and co-songwriter, and promptly handed both the microphone and the spotlight to him.  She could have easily talked the whole way through, listing off friends and family, talking for both of them, but she recognized that his is the face less-seen, but just as important a factor in their success as she.

When you are working on a project, it’s very rare that you’ll be working on it 100% entirely on your own.  There are always contributors and parts of the team, though they may not be as out in the open as you are.  It is very important to share your success and the credit thereof with your team.  Not only does it feel good to say nice things about other people, it fosters a positive work environment.  If you share the credit on a project, even something as minor as, “I’m glad you like the spreadsheet—I never would have completed it without _____’s help with that formula”, can help people feel appreciated, like their efforts mean something—it also encourages them to help you out with no hesitation next time you’re in a bind.

 4)      Find a good work/life balance.

Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech when ARGO won Best Picture touched our hearts as he thanked everything from Spielberg, to Canada, to the people struggling in Iran—but nothing was sweeter than when he thanked his wife, Jennifer Garner, for “working on our marriage for 10 Christmases,” and he said, “It is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”  All relationships are work, and it’s the team effort at home a balance Affleck and Garner build between filming and family time that allows them to not only be happy, but to produce such great work.

If your career takes up 95% of your time, and the other 5% is spent sleeping—you don’t have a good work/life balance. Regardless of whether or not you have a “someone special”, there needs to be equality in the time you spend on work and the time you spend at home or on yourself.  Many employers are looking to improve the work/life balance of their employees, but feedback is needed.  People who reach that level of career-nirvana are much happier and more productive in their jobs. You might have heard of the Work Hard/Play Hard ideal mentioned in an interview, on a job description, or in a company meeting.  Many companies that are trying to stay competitive will ask for four intense days of work, but will allow a remote day for ease of scheduling things like doctor’s appointments, car repair, and other necessary tasks that aren’t available for completion on the weekend.  Other companies may compensate for heavy demands on work-effort by providing more vacation days, or more flexible leave time. So yes, work hard for the money, but don’t forget to take time for yourself and your family to recharge.

These little lessons can help you on the path to success, but sometimes you need a little extra assistance getting there.  Working with a recruiter can give you an edge—they not only know how to help you showcase your talent, but also where the best audience for you is, and they’ll do their best to ensure both you and your audience are happy.

Contact one of TekStream’s recruiters today! Learn more here!