Coronavirus Update: Our team is here to help our clients and readers navigate these difficult times. Visit our Resources page now »

Skip to Main Content
by Joe Turner, the "Job Search Guy" | May 15, 2009


Perhaps, like many others, you've been riveted over the past several weeks by the wildly popular TV show, “Dancing with the Stars” that pairs celebrities with professional dancers glammed up in sequined costumes, makeup and dazzling hairdos. We're now down to the final three celebrities competing for the cherished mirrored disco ball: recent "Bachelor” star, Melissa Rycroft, suave French actor, Gilles Marini, and Olympic gold medalist, Shawn Johnson.


Each week, these and other couples have been competing by performing slickly choreographed dances such as the cha-cha, waltz and tango as they overcome obstacles and strive for high scores from the judges plus votes from the public to advance to the next round of competition.


It's a classic hero’s journey that job seekers can identify with on several levels.  Here are lessons that you can learn from “Dancing with the Stars”:


1)   Believe in Yourself  – To win, the dancers must believe in themselves. Sure, they might be celebrities, but none of them has ever danced competitively. As we watch each week, we witness them evolve from self-doubt and frustration to poise and self-confidence. The job search journey has a built-in growth mechanism. It nudges the job seeker, through challenges, into a stronger sense of self. As the old adage says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”


2)   Turn Criticism into Welcome Feedback – Dozens of hours of hard work go toward preparing for each dance.  No matter.  After their live performance, we'll see many of the dancers receive some harsh criticism.  While some may argue and get defensive, the more successful dancers will apply these comments to their next week's dance routine.  These couples make every effort to accept feedback from the judges as a gift for improvement while those who argue are more quickly voted off. Feedback from prospective employers and hiring managers is vital to your search process too. Getting defensive and feeling victimized only prolongs the job search. Learning from your errors is the mark of maturity, and enables you to win your next job.


3)   Winners Focus – The winning dancers learn to focus. This is one of the biggest issues between the professional dancers and their partners. As the celebrities master focusing, their dancing improves. This is true for job seekers as well. It’s impossible to achieve a job search goal if you don’t clarify what you want. Without focusing and becoming crystal clear about your goal, your roadmap is confusing and you wander in circles.


4)   Work Hard, and then Even Harder – These dancers work harder than they ever dreamed they would, just to keep up with their competitors. They keep raising the bar for each other. A successful job seeker must be committed to hard work. Finding the right job is often much harder than doing the actual job once you’re hired. No matter how hard the search seems, apply yourself even more. Keep going that extra mile.


5)   Develop a Winning Attitude – After multiple seasons, no dancer has ever won “Dancing with the Stars” with a bad attitude.  And so it is with your job search. It’s critical to view yourself as an empowered person. You’re not a victim. You know that rejection and setbacks are temporary and not personal. They are part of the process. You know that ultimately you’re going to win this challenge. You focus on positive thoughts and outcomes. You don’t accept defeat. You aren’t attached to the outcome of any particular set of interviews. You need to know that when you don’t get offered a particular job, it simply means that there’s a better one up ahead for you.


6)   Successful People Market and Sell Themselves – The celebrities and professional dancers understand that while in front of the camera, they are continuously marketing and selling themselves to the judges and the viewing public. Everything they do and say is a statement and a message about who they are.


And so it is with your job search. Every telephone call, e-mail note, letter, card, and piece of information that you send out, including your resume, must represent you well. It must be consistent and present you in your best light, with a focus on the needs of the employer rather than you.


7)   People Love Winners – There are differences among the dancers. Some show enthusiasm, and some express varying degrees of negativity. As the competition progresses, the enthusiastic dancers win over the judges and the audience.


Enthusiasm is contagious. People who see themselves as winners project this image to their audience. Potential employers will often hire less experienced applicants who exude enthusiasm and high energy over more experienced applicants who seem lukewarm about the job.





“Dancing with the Stars” is a good metaphor for today's job search experience. Both involve a long process full of obstacles, setbacks and rejection and require a similar winning formula for success. Take note as you watch the finals unfold and see if you can't apply some of these lessons in your job search.


As a recruiter, Joe Turner spent 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers.  The author of Job Search Secrets Unlocked and Paycheck 911, Joe also hosts his weekly Job Search Guy Radio Show on as well as other locations. You'll find free tips and advice on landing a job in this tough economy at:


Filed Under: Job Search
Don't Miss Vault's Newsletter

Career advice, tips, and updates on Covid-19.