Landing a job is no easy feat.
"Sometimes it feels as if you need superhuman qualities to even get your resume past the spam folder of a hiring manager's inbox, let alone get ahead once your foot's in the door," says Alisha Grauso, editor-in-chief of Moviepilot.com.
Luckily, she says, there is a group of people to whom you can look for advice: The Avengers.
"No, really. There are lessons to be found in any comic book story that can be applied to real life, and Avengers are no different," Grauso explains. "You think you've faced some tough career situations? Try facing down an army of invading Chitauri while Manhattan is being destroyed."
In honor of the upcoming release of Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Grauso shares 10 lessons you can learn from the Avengers characters that may help you land your next job:1. Never lie about your work history.
It can be tempting to lie on your resume about your education or work history, but resist, she advises.
"Sooner or later, the truth will come out, especially if you have some shadier spots in your work history," Grauso says. "As Black Widow learns the hard way, lying about your past can come back to bite you in the spandex. Some of the other characters have had a hard time trusting her because she's lied so much in the past — so she's had to work hard to regain the trust of some of the Avengers, namely Captain America."
So just be open and honest about yourself, and disclose anything about your situation or history that might become an issue later, Grauso suggests. "You never know when some power-crazed, manipulative coworker will come along and try to use it against you for his or her own gain."
2. Always show you're a team player.
"No man or woman is an island, even if he or she has superpowers and can physically throw a car across a busy street," she says. "At some point in a job, you're going to have to work with others to complete a project or tackle a particularly challenging problem. Being independent and able to self-direct is a great skill to have, but remember that there are always others around you who bring a different set of skills to the table — skills you'll need."
Maybe it's a strong business sense; maybe it's an eye for design; or maybe it's the ability to rapid fire half a dozen exploding arrows while kick-flipping off a skyscraper, she jokes. "The point is, showing a potential employer that you play well with others is not only helpful, but necessary."
3. Communication is key.
Your coworkers will always have different ideas, motivations, and communication styles than you do — so it's imperative that you take the time to actively listen to the other members of your team when they speak up with their ideas or objections, she explains. "Don't just steamroll them. The Avengers showed us what happens when everyone refuses to compromise and no one listens: everyone starts arguing, nothing gets done, and then Bruce Banner flips out and destroys the Helicarrier. And you don't want to pay for a new Helicarrier — trust me."
4. It's important to do your research.
"He might not know who Stephen Hawking or what wifi is, but Captain America is right about one thing: being prepared is always the way to go," Grauso says. "A great rule of thumb is to walk into every job interview knowing more about the company to which you're applying than they know about you."
Research their site, read as many recent news about the company as possible, and really figure out who and what they need. "It will impress a hiring rep to be so thorough; if you're willing to put in that much work for an interview, it bodes well for your work ethic."
Plus, she says, it shows them that you truly want to know how you can best help their company. "If Steve Rogers can catch up on the last 70 years that he missed, you can learn about your future company."
5. You need to put your best foot forward.
First impressions really are everything.
If you make it past the resume round and into a face-to-face interview, you only get one shot to impress the person holding your professional fate in his or her hands, Grauso explains. "That's why it's important to be the best version of yourself at a job interview. After all, Tony Stark is a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist and even he initially got turned down for the Avengers because he was — how did Nick Fury put it? — 'Volatile, self-obsessed, and [didn't] play well with others.'"
Unless you're applying for a top-secret government black ops agency that might be forced to give you a second chance in the event of an alien invasion, it's probably just best to be professional, polite, and make a great impression from the start.
6. Bring something new to the table.
Speaking of good impressions, a great interview is one in which you impress upon the hiring reps that you would bring value to their company. "So show them how you would be an asset," she suggests. "Listen to their needs and respond accordingly. If they are interested in building up their social media presence, talk up your experience in that area. If you know the company is looking for an engineer with a strong coding background, show them how you can fill that need."
Employers hire to plug holes, solve problems, and bring expertise to the table they don't already have. "Be the Natasha Romanoff to their Hulk, Captain America, and Thor, the svelte assassin to their superpowered bruisers. You'll be more likely to get hired — and uniquely indispensable."
7. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Remember the interview is a two-way street. Yes, you need to show the potential employer that you're a great fit for their team, but it's also important that you figure out whether they're the right company for you.
"Don't be afraid to ask questions about the culture of the company, the people you'll be working with, and what the job might entail," says Grauso. "When Nick Fury was recruiting the Avengers, all of them had reasonable doubts and asked questions before signing on the dotted line. And so should you."
Otherwise, she explains, "you might be brainwashed by a magical staff and forced to do a psychotic demi-god's bidding. Be glad you just have to go through a round of interviews."
8. Learn to negotiate.
Let's say you make it through the resume selection process and all the interview rounds, and now you're talking salary and benefits. Now is not the time to sell yourself short, she says.
"Remember, the first offer of employment is just an opening offer, not written in stone. Asking for what you're worth, particularly in terms of money, can be uncomfortable, but it's okay to aim high," Grauso says. "Getting comfortable with negotiating is a necessary skill to learn. No employer, no matter how fair, will give you what you deserve if you don't ask for it. After all, would Tony Stark have become the billionaire owner of Stark Enterprises if he didn't know exactly what his skills and technology were worth and how to negotiate for them? No. No, he would not have."
9. Practice presenting yourself and your ideas to others can be incredibly helpful.
In a job interview, you're selling yourself. "Or rather, you're selling the idea of you," Grauso explains.
In all likelihood, you'll have to go through many, many interviews before landing the job of your dreams, which means presenting yourself and your ideas to an array of people.
"So be like Nick Fury and get very good at this, very fast. Not only does he have to talk a group of reluctant superheroes into saving the world, he also has to convince the World Security Council of his vision. But even after years of experience, Nick Fury still uses Agent Coulson and Maria Hill as his sounding boards."
Grab a friend and have him or her run you through a mock interview to practice.
10. Confidence matters.
If you don't believe in you, why should a future employer believe in you?
"Confidence goes a long way in assuring a hiring manager that they'd be making a smart decision to hire you. Even if you have butterflies that make it feel as if the Hulk is rampaging in your stomach, smile," she says. "Look people directly in the eye. Shake their hands firmly. It might feel like you're in over your head, but look at Loki: He almost succeeded in taking over the world through sheer force of will, so self-assured was he that he had the skills, the smarts, and the right to be there. While having a 'brain like a bag full of cats' isn't exactly a desirable character trait, belief in yourself is."
So be like Loki of Asgard and don't be afraid to "turn on a little bit of that swagger."
"Now, job-seekers...assemble!" she concludes.
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