There’s an opening scene from one of the episodes from the TV sitcom Friends which should resonate with all job seekers— even in the computer age. The group is helping to send Rachel’s resume out and whistling as they near the end of their stuffing, stamping and sorting of resumes when one of them spots a typo. “I’m sure they’ll be impressed with your excellent ‘compuper’ skills.”
It’s a feeling most of us, if not all of us, have had. That sinking feeling when we realize we’ve made a mistake on our resume or cover letter. It’s a universal feeling of frustration perfectly captured through the lens of television writers and actors.
And it’s not the only example of a TV character’s employment search or struggles. We can learn a lot from our fictional friends. Modern and classic television provides a sneak peek into every profession, job struggle, accomplishment and status imaginable. Sure, some of these are the far-fetched creations of the writer’s minds, but more often we can relate to characters because most struggles and triumphs are universal, filled with feelings with which we can all relate.
Who hasn’t struggled with pursuing a dream job versus the comfort of a more lucrative or stable position like Marshall Erickson on How I Met Your Mother a couple seasons ago. And Mad Men takes us deep into the moral, and oft immoral, convictions faced by employees and those seeking employment.
Even Downton Abbey– a show which takes place near the beginning of the 20th century and has a fairly stagnant place of employment- deals with characters who look to self-fulfill through employment, characters who use employment as a means of transition, and other characters who hold jobs for stability, sentimentality and passion. In my life I can pinpoint friends, family and coworkers who fit into each description a century later. During the show’s first series one of the house maids sets her sights on not just a new job, but a real career. Maid Gwen sends away for a typewriter so she can realize her dreams of becoming a secretary.
Viewers see her face many situations we often face when looking for a job. She must toe the line between getting references and not letting her employer know she is seeking a position elsewhere for fear of being jobless altogether. She is inexperienced and must contend with others with more impressive backgrounds. She fails, gives up briefly and uses connections to ultimately land her secretarial position. Sound familiar? It does to me. Just describing those actions it would be hard to discern that the story was a fictionalized account from a century ago and not my current job situation.
Countless other examples exist on the tube, as our friends at Downton might have said (if television had existed that is), and if we look closely we can gleam loads of advice from our favorite small-screen characters. Proof read your resume. Go for your dreams. Use you connections. Pray you don’t have Michael Scott as a boss.
IMAGE: Courtesy of City of Sumas