There’s something delicious about the TV show Shark Tank. Watching aspiring entrepreneurs sink or swim as they try to score a deal with some of the most successful business leaders in America is both a guilty pleasure and a source of inspiration.
On the one hand, there’s satisfying validation in thinking a contestant’s idea is terrible and then seeing the sharks tear them to bits. But then when someone enters the tank and blows everyone away with the most ingenious product, you feel like you too can succeed at anything. Even at the job search.
In a lot of ways the job search is like treading the shark infested waters of the show. You have to put yourself out there and prove you’re worth the investment. So here are six lessons that job seekers can take from Shark Tank and apply them to the job search:
1. First impressions matter.
Lori Greiner, the proclaimed Queen of QVC, often says she can tell if a business is “a hero or a zero” the moment it enters the shark tank. And once she declares something’s “a zero” she rarely changes her mind.
The same is true for the first impressions you make as a job seeker. Proving you’re “a hero” from the get-go is about more than showing up to an interview on time or wearing a well-pressed suit. You have to exude confidence with your handshake, posture, and introduction. No matter how nervous you may be, find a way to show your interviewer that you’re prepared and someone they should pay attention to.
2. Do your research.
Often a Shark Tank contestant will provide samples for the investors that are catered to their individual personalities. Their product might feature a Croatian flag in honor Robert Herjavec’s heritage or sport the Dallas Maverick’s colors for Mark Cuban. While these personalized touches rarely sway the sharks to invest in a company they are unsure of, it does strengthen their connections with contestant they believe in.
When trying to land a job with a company knowing about the organization’s culture and values is just as important. Everything from how you word a cover letter to the questions you ask in an interview should reflect your understanding of the company.
Remember that the application process is about making a connection with an organization. Finding ways to highlight shared values or interests makes building a relationship with a company easier.
3. Know your proof points.
Being successful businessmen and women, the decision to make a deal or not always comes down to one thing for the sharks: the numbers. If a contestant doesn’t know how scaling their business will affect the cost of production or have no proof of concept supported by sales, they won’t make it out of the shark tank alive.
As a job seeker, your proof points are evidence that the skills and experiences listed on your resume are legitimate. Providing examples of your past work or statistics about how you positively impacted previous companies you worked for show that you’re the real deal.
With every question you answer during an interview, be prepared to back up your response. For example, if you say that you have three years of sales experience, follow up with numbers about how many new clients you acquired or how you consistently surpassed sales quotas.
4. Understand evaluation.
One of the quickest ways to drown in the tank is to over evaluate a company. A contestant will come on the show asking for $500,000 for just five percent equity and the sharks will eat them alive. The entrepreneur will argue their case about how much they believe the company will succeed. But faith means nothing to the sharks.
When looking for a job, you have to understand that each company values specific skills differently. Sure you may speak four languages, be a master of Photoshop, and have a Physics degree from MIT, but if those aren’t a requirement for the position, those skills are worthless to the company.
With each company and position you apply for consider the value of each of your skills. Know what will impress them and prove you’re worthy of the job.
5. Look for a good fit.
Sometimes, contestants are lucky enough to receive offers from multiple sharks. It’s then up to them to decide which shark is the best fit for their company. Even if they’re dying for capital, an entrepreneur might turn down more money in order to secure a deal with the right shark for them.
Never forget that during your job search.
The interview process is long and draining. A recent Glassdoor study found the average length of the American interview process was 22.9 days. After going through that multiple times with multiple companies, it can be tempting to take a job just because it’s offered to you rather than because it’s a good fit.
Before accepting a job offer think about whether you’ll be happy in a long-term employment relationship with the organization and if the position will allow you to succeed. If the answers are no, it’s better to keep looking for the right job than to take the first one that comes along.
6. Don’t let rejection get to you.
The sharks can be merciless. They’ll tell contestants who have invested all of their savings and years of their lives into a company that it’s doomed to fail. But you know what? Every so often one of those entrepreneurs will leave the tank and go on to find success on their own.
In fact, many say their experience on Shark Tank motivated them to do better.
If a job interview doesn’t go the way you’d hoped or if you don’t get your dream job, remember to keep on swimming. Rejection sucks. But as any of the sharks would tell you, none of them would be as successful as they are today if they left failure stop them.
What other lessons can job seekers learn from Shark Tank? Share in the comments below!