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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jessica Sanchez made three key mistakes on American Idol

A Filipino-American career coach described three mistakes that Jessica Sanchez made on American Idol that promising job candidates also make that often cost them the job offer. 
In a career advice blog  published on the Forbes news site, Caroline Ceniza-Levine said, "Some people were surprised at Jessica Sanchez’s near-elimination from Fox’s hit show, American Idol, but I sadly was not."

"Don’t get me wrong – I’m an admirer of her singing ability, and as a fellow Filipina-American, there is an immediate affinity," explained Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart® and co-host of the "90-Day Challenge For Entrepreneurs."  

Sanchez is an American with a Filipina mother and Mexican father, with an enormous Filipino following around the world. 

"Having hired thousands of people over 15 years of recruiting, I’ve seen many times when the star candidate or obvious frontrunner falls short in the interview process. From what I’ve seen on Idol this season, Jessica made three key mistakes a lot of star candidates make that cost them the offer and may cost Jessica the win...," Levine wrote.

(1) Highlighting the wrong things

Levine said: "Of the thousands of available songs out there, Jessica selected a lesser-known one."

She said job candidates often also highlight the wrong projects or accomplishments when applying for a position in a certain company.

"Not all quantitative examples are equal. You want to pick based on who you’re singing to or interviewing with," Levine said.

(2) "Not playing" to the decision-makers

Levine said the American Idol judges appreciated Jessica’s performances.

However, she noted that "the competition is decided by mainstream audience, not judges, and they might not notice or care for the nuance."

She compared this to the job market, saying "many candidates don’t identify and play to the decision-makers. It’s not enough to showcase your qualifications and experience and assume that people will appreciate it."

"Star candidates have great backgrounds and sometimes rest too much on their laurels. You still have to relay these great attributes in a way that engages the decision-makers," Levine said.

She advised jobseekers to "play to multiple perspectives. Many times the decision is made by junior and senior people. You have to make your sell accessible across a spectrum of people."
(3) Underestimating "likeability"

Levine noted that Jessica was "so quiet, with almost no backstory" and generated little rapport "outside of her singing."

Levine said: "If you have two qualified candidates, and one is less qualified but more likeable than the other, that less qualified candidate will win."

"People hire people. We all want to work with people we like," Levine said.
She said a great candidate's "background will not speak for itself. You still need to highlight the right things that your prospective employer cares about."

The career coach cautioned, however, that even if a jobseeker follows her advice, "the final offer decision is still unpredictable. That’s why job search is still a numbers game – you want multiple opportunities in play at all times. You want quality AND quantity."

Levine is also an adjunct assistant professor of Professional Development at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. 

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