Whether it’s Amazing Race or Keeping Up with the Kardashians, you probably enjoy some guilty TV pleasures that don’t require you to think too much. Maybe it’s something more challenging, like cop drama NCIS.
Whatever it is, I bet you’d be pretty excited to know you can actually pick up some solid career advice while wiling away the hours in front of the tube. No, seriously. It’s not a complete waste of your time!
Check out these four career tips we learned from watching TV:
The Blacklist: Don’t be afraid to make your own job or internship position
The Blacklist centers around Raymond Reddington, an infamous career criminal who has evaded arrest for 20 years. Out of the blue, he turns himself in to the FBI, promising to help catch their most-wanted criminals (all while advancing his own personal agenda, of course.)
The lesson: Just because a job isn’t listed doesn’t mean it’s not available. Reddington offered his services for a position that didn’t exist, but it turned out there was a need for what he did.
This lesson could be applied in several ways in the workplace. Let’s say you work at an entry-level sales job, but your workflow is stunted because of an ineffective system. You could create a plan for how the situation could be solved by creating a new position. Answer questions like:
Once you’ve finished, schedule a meeting to present your idea to the boss. Depending on the company’s size, he might be able to approve the change then, or he might have to check with others before giving you his decision. Either way, he’ll be glad to see your initiative and dedication to the success of the company.
For career success, you want to be seen as a problem-solver.
The Voice: Positivity + Hard Work = Success
Contestants on the singing competition The Voice work with one of four celebrity coaches in the hopes of winning a recording contract. It’s so refreshing to watch something focused on positivity and hard work instead of pettiness and backstabbing.
There are no snarky comments about competitors, no “mean judges” or “nice judges.” The show is simply a chance for amateur singers to work with some of the biggest names in the industry to improve their skills.
You can apply this same idea to your career. Instead of trying to get ahead by taking advantage of others, focus on building strong relationships with your co-workers. Instead of focusing on the shortcomings of others, focus on improving your own skills and performance, day by day.
Instead of surfing Facebook during down time, volunteer to help out a colleague or pick up the cake for a co-worker’s birthday.
Build your career by building your reputation, not tearing down others.
NCIS: Be part of a strong team
There’s a reason NCIS was the most-watched TV show of the 2012-2013 season, and most of it has to do with the chemistry between characters. Much of the show’s appeal stems from the investigators’ steadfast trust and reliance on each other in any situation.
It can be easy to doubt the skills of your co-workers when you have a major project. After all, you don’t want to be blamed for someone else’s mistake.
Instead of thinking about how your co-workers can mess up, think about how they can help. Again, think about the strengths of those around you instead of dwelling on what they don’t do as well. A winning team needs all kinds of contributors.
It’s important for everyone to evaluate his or her strengths and weaknesses. This allows everyone to help in the area they’re most suited to and gives you the security of having someone backing you up.
Commercials: Be Someone who can be Counted On
Watch an hour-long TV show and you can expect to watch 18 to 22 minutes of commercials (unless, of course, you’ve got a DVR.) It doesn’t matter what show, what station, what time of day, about one-third of the program will be commercials.
As annoying as they can be, it’s kind of comforting to have that sense of structure. Your boss should have that same sense of security about you. Every task you complete must have the same level of thought, the same attention to detail and the same high-quality execution.
In the workplace, you want to be thought of as reliable. You’re always there, and can always be counted on.