Job Search and Career Lessons from The Movies: The Graduate | |

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EP 416 On today’s show,  I use the memorable quote from, “The Graduate” to offer advice for job hunting and your career.

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I've got a job search and a career lesson all rolled up into one conversation from the movie "The Graduate."

Now, if you've never seen this movie, it will seem a little dated right now but it was a famous 1960s movie. It was the first major part for the young actor named Dustin Hoffman who road that movie to a very successful career. And there's a scene where there's a graduation party his parents have thrown and one of his parents' friends walks over to him and tries to offer this profound advice to him. Here is the way the dialogue goes.

So this is the parents' friend. He says, "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word."

"Yes sir."

"Are you listening?"

"Yes, sir."


And, you pause for a second and this is an hysterical moment in the movie. Like what the hell is he mean and the parent' s friend is trying to offer career advice that Benjamin should get into plastics as his life's work.

Now, let's apply this and simply now. And simply say there is always one hot thing that's going on and particularly if you are younger and it's great to get involved at the beginning of the career curve, at the beginning of the product curve, at the beginning of the lifecycle curve when you could afford more risk.

Now, let's apply this to more modern times. Plastics isn't a thing. It might have been social media. Any number of product offerings have been out there where people rode the ascendancy of the product lifecycle into great careers and great financials.

I'll simply say that a lot of people have loved the work, some have hated it but, at the end of the day, if you can afford to put yourself in the position of being the front end of a life cycle and taking the risk, there is a huge payoff at the back end.

Now, let's also take this example from plastics. Any one think of that as a hot product any more? Of course, not. And the same thing is true with others that have taken place between plastics and today where people have been involved with different hot areas.

So Wall Street. Hot area. Less hot now. Now, Silicon Valley is clearly far stronger. The point I want to make here is there are things that will be hot one day and not hot, another. Remember myspace? Yes, it's still alive and it serves a very distinct niche. Well, you always want to put yourself in the position where you are getting off the curb before it starts it's dissent.

So ride it up. Get it out before it's commoditized and don't linger there because once it's commoditized, you are disposable. There's no unique value to you.

Had Benjamin follow that advice and gotten into plastics, I'm sure he would have been laid off three times by now easily and certainly he'd be past retirement. Is that really what you want to be doing is getting laid off three times?

Ride the waves up and get off before they hit the plateau and then move on from there.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching

ff Altman Job Search and Career Lessons from The Movies: The Graduate
ff Altman
Job Search and Career Lessons from The Movies: The Graduate

Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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