A couple of weeks ago in SmartCompany, Yamini Naidu wrote a great article about some of the lessons the Australian reality TV series Shark Tank has taught us so far.

Yamini confessed she’d become addicted to it, and I have to put my hand up at this point too, because I’m right there with her on this one.

It only took me a moment to realise that those three lessons Yamini identified from Shark Tank are equally relevant to resume writing and job hunting, and the very same things I find myself telling CV Saviour clients.

So with Yamini’s permission, I’ve restated her 3 key lessons here, along with one of my own, and thrown in my two cents about how these lessons relate to resumes and job hunting:

1) People buy people

You might well have top credentials from the best university in the country, but if you don’t ‘fit’, you’re unlikely to make the cut. An article in last week’s Economist about joining the world’s elite professional-services firms stated: “The most important quality recruiters are looking for is ‘fit’: for all their supposedly rigorous testing of candidates, they would sooner choose an easy-going person with a second-class mind than a Mark Zuckerberg-type genius who rubs people up the wrong way.”

And while you may not be interested in an elite professional services firm, fit follows for pretty much every organisation.

A cracking LinkedIn profile is a great way to show a potential recruiter who you are (in a professional way, of course).

You’ll be Googled and checked out on LinkedIn anyway, so why not use it to show how you’ll fit with your next employer?

2) Get out of the passion prison 

Like the sharks, recruiters are generally unimpressed about passion. Everyone is passionate about what they do, right? If not, maybe we should be talking about your next career move.

Passion on a resume translates to a great big yawn for most recruiters, and it’s fast becoming one of those words that just has no place there anymore.

Sure, you’re passionate, but you need hard skills, knowledge, experience, and results too.

Being passionate just isn’t going to be enough to get the job, which leads me to Yamini’s next observation.

3) Show – don’t just tell

It’s great that you ‘led the team’, ‘grew sales’ and ‘delivered projects on time’, but isn’t that what you were paid to do?

What recruiters and employers really want is for you to show them, not just tell. What this means is that instead of just saying you ‘corrected the annual budget’, show them how you did it and what the outcome was, and turn it into something that will get them all excited about what you might be able to do for them. ‘Shaved $200K off annual budget. Eliminated a 2-year historical budget overspend, revised forecasting and compiled a new budget based on actual department costs to ensure long term fiscal accuracy’ sounds a bit more exciting than just fixing the budget, doesn’t it?

And I’m going to add my own lesson from Shark Tank here:

4) Have realistic expectations 

It seems to me that every entrepreneur on the show significantly over values their business, and goes in with an unrealistic expectation of what they think their potential investors will jump in at. The same goes for your salary expectations.

You may well think that you’re worth a lot more than what you’re currently being paid, but it pays to take a step back every now and then to find out exactly what the market rate is for your skills and experience in the sector in which you work.

There are some great tools on the market to help, such as payscale.com and emolument.com, and recruiters in your sector will generally provide accurate guidelines. It’s also really important to be realistic about whether you genuinely have the skills and experience for the job on offer. In an article last month in The Australian titled “The career advice I wish I had at 25”, Shane Rodgers wrote of the advice he received from hairdressing legend Stefan Ackerie that ‘success comes from repetition’ and Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers that promoted the idea that you need to spend 10,000 hours on something to become truly expert at it. 10,000 hours!

Perhaps before you decide you’re an expert at something, you might just want to do the maths.

If you can’t tick the boxes for more than 80% of criteria for a position, you’ll need to come up with some pretty convincing examples of the criterion you don’t have if you expect a recruiter to call you in for interview.

If you’re stepping up to a role, you need to make sure you’re getting the skills and experience you need now. A good career counsellor can provide specific advice but joining relevant professional associations, re-training and up-skilling, seeking a mentor and getting the experience you need through volunteer work is a great starting point.

The bottom line

Think like you’re pitching yourself for Shark Tank in your resume and to recruiters, and you’ll be a step ahead of the crowd jostling for the same roles as you are.

What other things have you found that work when applying for jobs? SHARE with us below.

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  • The best job interview I ever had was for the job I have now and its the best job I have ever had also. My interview was held in a coffee lounge and we simply sat and chatted about life. It was like old friends catching up.


  • A worthwhile read. Thanks for sharing.


  • These are really great tips. They bring you down to earth but are realistic as well


  • Great tips for critically thinking about how to present yourself everyday and in recruitment situations. Great for me now, thanks.


  • hunting


  • It’s so hard applying for jobs today. Just getting your application together is difficult, the selection criteria gets me every time


  • I really enjoyed reading this! Great Tips!


  • so helpful… am on it these days


  • some great tips here especially for those ready to jump head first back in the game!


  • Spelling mistakes and typos in a resume may mean that you won’t get an interview. Also, you need to personalise your resume and application to each job.


  • just great


  • Thanks for some great ideas


  • Great tips. Network. It’s not what you know, but who you know.


  • A fantastic article to read. Thank you for the advice.


  • Good advice – linked in really works


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