What I Learned from The Little Mermaid: Job Search Lessons You Can Use

By WinterWyman - Career and Recruiting Advice

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by Sarah Connors - Principal Staffing Manager, Human Resources Contract Staffing at WinterWyman

I learned everything I know about job searching from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there are some great lessons to be learned from Ariel and her friends. Read on to discover how my favorite childhood classic and the advice it offers can help you land your next job.


Lesson # 1: Trust your instincts

Ariel’s sisters seemed happy swimming and singing just where they were. But, Ariel always wanted to be “where the people are,” to “see them dancing and walking around on those – what do you call them? Oh – feet!” Thankfully, Ariel trusted her gut, made a move and ended up living happily ever after.

Real Life Applications

If you are interviewing for a new position but it doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and don’t pursue it. I’ve had candidates ignore their instincts and start a new job only to end up leaving within a week or two because it’s not the right fit.

If you’ve decided to make the leap and look at new positions, make the leap. Some companies make counter offers to try and keep you but usually there was a reason you were going to leave. If it was something simple to fix, then why wasn't it fixed in the first place vs. looking at new roles? I say, trust your instincts and go, unless it truly feels right to stay.


Lesson # 2: Surround yourself with a support team of good people

Ariel had Scuttle, Flounder and Sebastian looking out for her, guiding her through difficult situations and encouraging her when she was unsure of what to do.

Real Life Applications

Join networking groups and organizations online or in-person. You never know who you might meet, what new career path you might find or what organization you would never have heard about otherwise.

Reconnect with former co-workers and bosses who can serve as a reference, introduce you to more people and may know about jobs that could be a good fit.

Make sure your loved ones are going to be supportive. After finding out you’ve lost your job, had a tough interview or didn’t get the offer, you’ll need a trusted confidant, a shoulder to cry on and someone to encourage you.

Have a good recruiter who can give you inside advice, tips and encouragement like only someone who does this for a living can do.


Lesson # 3: Consider the source

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-Scuttle – he’s a great bird and so loyal. However, he’s telling her a fork is a “dinglehopper” used to comb hair and a pipe is a “banded bulbus snarfblat” used to play music. So, when you’re getting advice and it sounds fishy (pun intended), or you question how much the source actually knows, do a little more research before trusting it as fact.

Real Life Applications

During reference checks, I’ve received questionable feedback on candidates, but when I pushed more, I realized the reference had a falling out with the person or was only giving me half the story. I would have passed on the candidate if I had taken the first statements at face value and not asked more questions.

Don’t walk away from an industry or company just because of things you heard from someone else. If you like the opportunity, then do your homework, go for the interview and ask targeted questions to figure it out for yourself.

Some people will tell you that across the board, contract and contract-to-permanent roles are a bad idea. I disagree; it’s always worth a conversation. You never know what it might offer you.


Lesson # 4: Get creative

I just said how silly of Scuttle to tell Ariel the wrong function for a fork and a pipe. However, his ideas were creative and unique. When was the last time you shook up your job search?

Real Life Applications

One of my colleagues wrote a blog about creative ways to say thank you after an interview that included a balloon in a box.

I’m not saying wear a hot pink suit to an interview but maybe a splash of color with your shirt under your suit jacket, a graphic tie, a pretty pin or a statement jewelry piece that’s interesting but not distracting can make you stand out in a good way.

Try a variety of research techniques such as finding your interviewers online and seeking out commonalities or reading blogs from or about the company; come to the interview with knowledge, questions and enthusiasm that no other interviewee will have.

Craigslist. I know, you thought it was just for used dressers and scandals, but you’d be amazed how many recruiters are telling me these days it works well for them in finding their newest talent. Think about different websites as well as online or in-person networks - maybe that friend you’ve made in the town garden club has an opening at her company.

The moral of the story is to watch more movies from your childhood. Just kidding. My advice is to fight for what you want and go get the career equivalent of your Prince Eric! Maybe you love him because he’s an exciting startup, a challenging next step, a team you’ll love seeing each day or a new technology that you can’t wait to get your hands on. It doesn’t matter; just go after it with the zest and zeal of a mermaid in love and live happily ever after.

The End.


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