Fates and Fortunes

Seinfeld's lessons in job-seeking

10/08/2009 05:25:18 PM

seinfeldCourtesy of Mainstreet.com, I bring you job hunting tips from the cast of Seinfeld, probably the last people on earth from whom anyone should ever take advice on any subject.  These come just as the TV viewing public is getting to see the cast together again on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, although with only 2.6 million viewers cumulatively tuning in to the first episode, it’s not clear that America is desperately  missing Jerry and the gang.

According to Mainstreet’s Seth Fiegerman, Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) was the one guy on the show who really had a career to speak of. Jerry teaches us to marry our passion to our work in order to find success. Just like in real life, Jerry was a successful stand-up comedian who eventually got a network TV show.  Most of us don’t have the talent or the chutzpah to make our living as a stand-up, but Fiegerman’s got a point and I think that’s “do what you love, the money will follow.” Or something like that.

Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has a lesson for me, which is this: GET UP FROM YOUR COMPUTER. LEAVE THE HOUSE. Ok, Ok, noted. According to Fiegerman, Elaine finally lands a job when she runs into her future employer, mogul catalog clothier Mr. Peterman (Family Feud’s John O’Hurley) while out shopping. I always loved Elaine best with Peterman … or maybe with Puddy. It’s a toss-up. In any case, Fiegerman is right: It’s easy to sit at the laptop all day sending out resumes and cover letters and hoping desperately that someone will respond. But it’s also really easy for employers to ignore all of that electronic communication. People who are hiring are more likely to hire someone they know than someone who’s just sent them an email with a lot of annoying attachments. So get up, take a break, head to the nearest coffee shop or mall, and strike up some conversations.

I’ll try to do the same, just after I finish this blog.

Moving along, Fiegerman even manages to draw a job-seeking lesson from Kramer (Michael Richards), who mostly spent his time on the show hosting fake talk shows in his apartment and figuring out crazy ways to enter rooms. But if you’re a freelancer, Kramer reminds you to keep on hustling to get what you want.

“One thing we’ve seen in this economy among determined people without jobs is a willingness to hustle with gigs here and there.  From odd jobs to freelance projects, my hat’s off to those who are not at all shy about figuring out how to make it through a rough patch,” writes Fiegerman. My hat’s off too.

That advice should be true for the gainfully employed as well. You might not personally be going through a rough patch, but your company probably is, so you should consider it part of your job to find ways for your company to save money, work more efficiently and operate better in this new economy.

Finally comes George (Jason Alexander), from whom I feel we should learn many lessons, all of them in the form of what not to do. Don’t sleep under your desk. Don’t lie about your identity in order to get what you want. Don’t live at home until you are 40. Don’t expect hand-modeling to be your winning lottery ticket. And so forth.

Fiegerman agrees with me, but also points out no one should expect to work for the same company for their entire life, so a little flexibility – although perhaps not as much as George exhibits – could come in handy.

Really though, would we have wanted those Seinfeld characters to have actually worked? If they had, when would they have gotten to hang out, annoy each other and entertain us?

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