Skip to Main Content
by Joe Turner | March 10, 2009


So You Think You Can Dance is currently a top-10 TV hit drawing both millions of viewers as well as votes for America's favorite dancer. Today's job hunter can learn a lot from the dancers on this show.

After watching both the winners and losers, here are five lessons you can use to help "dance" your way to a winning job.

1) Dance for your life

Briefly, this is "do or die" where audience votes determine the bottom six dancers, who must then perform sudden death dance solos. The judges pick one boy and one girl to leave the show each week. These soloists must answer the judges' question, "Why should we keep you in the competition?"

As a job hunter, the question translates to, "Why should I hire you?" Most of us have had to face this question in past interviews. Your answer to this one question, much like the dancer's solo routine, may determine your immediate elimination. Therefore, your answer must address the needs of the interviewer, not yourself. It must also be benefit-oriented and set you apart from the competition.

2) Sell, sell, sell

Whenever the dance contestants are on stage, they are dancing to win it all. Even while receiving feedback from the judges, it's about selling themselves. Their postures, smiles, body language and dance routines are all part of their overall "package" and "presentation."

Like the dancers, it's important to see yourself as a product that you must package and continually market. This includes everything from your resume and thank you letter to your body language and clothing choice. Think of yourself as a product that needs to be positioned for the greatest impact on your audience. Be aware of your impression on others and make sure to present yourself positively and professionally on paper, in person and on the phone.

3) People hire people

It just makes sense that people hire people they like over other equally qualified candidates. Among the dancers, there are performers who are technically stronger than the others, but they are not as good at projecting their personalities. The judges repeatedly encourage them to do so. The dancers who take this advice to heart, achieve. Twitch, for instance, is a dancer who has improved because he has learned to show his personality.

Other dancers aren't as strong technically, but are highly likable and win over the judges and the audience. Be sure to show genuine warmth, courtesy, respect and gratitude. Be real, and make an effort to genuinely connect with your interviewer. Since employers often look for a "fit" with their current team, your chemistry and likeability could win you a position over others with stronger credentials.

4) Passion and desire

Sometimes dancers win because they work harder, persevere more, and have more passion and desire than their competitors. Benjie, who won a couple of seasons ago, demonstrated strong passion. Every time he performed he projected a focused intensity, joy and the ability to completely be in the moment. It's pretty hard to defeat someone with this kind of focused passion and goal "directedness."

It's the same with job search. You have to have focused intention about your job search goal, and you have to pour passion, desire, persistence and hard work into winning that job.

5) Show your ability to grow and evolve

On the show, both the judges and the audience seem to favor dancers who demonstrate the ability to grow and evolve. Many dancers have been cut from the competition because they topped out and weren’t able to improve. The winners, meanwhile, continue to surprise and delight us with their ability to grow and change before our eyes.

Take a look at your work history. Has it shown growth and evolution? Many employers look for candidates who can show a growth pattern in their career paths. What growth can you show in your career? This could mean changing jobs without being a job hopper, and even taking some risks during your career. Or, it could mean taking a step back in salary or job title in order to regroup for a greater career jump later. If you can demonstrate the ability to change, evolve and grow, you will have an advantage over your competitors.


Can you actually dance your way to your next job? While it may seem like just another reality TV show, So You Think You Can Dance offers some very real lessons on succeeding in today's job hunt. When you substitute judges for hiring managers and the audience for interview panels, you can correlate some pretty accurate assessments that can be applied to today's competitive job search process.

As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. Author of Job Search Secrets Unlocked and Paycheck 911, Joe has interviewed on radio talk shows and offers free insider job search secrets at


Filed Under: Job Search

Want to be found by top employers? Upload Your Resume

Join Gold to Unlock Company Reviews