June 6, 2012
Reality TV and the media have sometimes given pageants a bad reputation, but while my husband and I attended the Miss USA Pageant Sunday evening I found myself thinking about how relevant pageants still are for today’s woman.
Think pageants are only about strutting your stuff on stage in front of judges? Think again! The techniques women learn to compete in pageants are the same ones they can use to climb the proverbial career ladder. Check out these 5 pageant tips that can be directly applied to excel in the workplace:
Tip #1 – To ace the interview: Be extremely knowledgeable
Pageant queens don’t ace the interview competition just because of their looks; they do well in interviews because of their brains and personality.
“When you compete in a pageant, from local to international levels, you quickly realize that answering a variety of questions flawlessly is a huge element in the competition. You never know what questions you’ll be asked so you have to prepare for anything. Essentially, your answer needs to be as beautiful as you are on stage,” commented Christina Clarke, Miss Washington USA 2012. “And while beauty might get you noticed, it’s brains that are the most important aspect when it comes to competing in a pageant as well as competing for a job in business.”
Your goal…learn everything you can about the company, industry, key competitors, and needs of the customers. Then put your knowledge to work during interviews for your dream job by dazzling them with your wisdom and ideas.
Tip #2 – Walk the walk: Stand tall and show your most confident self
Ever wonder why pageant contestants look so confident? Because they practice exuding confidence even when they may be quaking from nerves on the inside.
States Libby Crawford, Ms. Oregon America 2012, “Pageants are a mental game and it can be nerve-wracking to go onstage in front of judges and a large television audience. So, I remind myself that I am not competing against anyone else but me and I picture myself as the winner. This turns my mindset from nerves into confidence. I’ve found if you act confidently you’ll become a confident person be it on stage or in the workplace.”
Well said. Confidence is key for women job seekers and for obtaining promotions; just remember to exude confidence, not arrogance.
Tip #3 – Show off your talent: Know your strengths and play them up
Pageant contestants often spend years honing their talent, just like women in the workplace spend years gaining job skills and experience. The key is to be able to share your talents with others.
As Katie Harman Ebner, Miss America 2002 stated, “Miss America contestants are uniquely brave women, with confidence enough to not only celebrate and display their beauty and intellect, but talent as well. Fearlessly, contestants share their talents with an audience to bring light to another facet of their personality, and ultimately, their ability to be a well-rounded titleholder. I believe each person is gifted with special talents specific to them. In competition, I observed the importance of sharing those talents and also appreciating the talents of others. People are touched and inspired by your vulnerability when you give of your whole self…especially the best of you. To excel in your career, women must be confident enough to display their unique talents and strengths. When you do what YOU do best, your productivity increases.”
Want to become better known in the workplace and nab that coveted promotion? Then remember to share your talent with others. Volunteer for job assignments or to lead cross-functional project teams so more people (especially management) have the opportunity to see your skills and the quality of your work.
Tip #4 – Pick the perfect pageant attire: Dress for the job you desire
Ever watch the national pageants on television and ooh and ahh over the magnificent gowns? Contestants choose their gown carefully because they believe it is the best one to reflect who they are and the position for which they are competing (because winning a pageant is a one-year job!).
“I must have tried on what felt like hundreds of gowns before I found the perfect one. When I put it on it made me feel like I could take on the world – and I did, at the Mrs. World pageant,” laughed Nicole Brink, former Mrs. America and Mrs. World 2002. “This is the same for women in their careers because it’s important to dress in clothes that make you feel confident and that are suitable for the position.”
To dress for the job, research your industry and company and then build your wardrobe to reflect your personality and your desire to climb even higher on the career ladder.
Tip #5 – Smile, smile, smile: Positivity is an incredibly powerful tool
Pageant contestants don’t have dazzling smiles for no reason; they know the secret is that an authentic smile not only wins over others, it also makes you feel great inside.
“Putting a smile on your face even when you’re tired and things aren’t going well was one of the biggest lessons I learned from competing in pageants,” commented Debra Gilmour, former Beauties of America 50s winner. “I don’t know why, but smiling makes me feel better and positively affects the mood of people around me.”
What’s that old saying about smile and the whole world smiles with you? Try it and see.
Bottom Line: You don’t have to be a pageant queen to use the techniques of pageant contestants to excel in your career. So stand tall, be knowledgeable, know your strengths and show them off, dress for the position, and smile! Then watch out – you just might earn that coveted promotion, even if it doesn’t come with a crown!
~ Lisa Quast
Photo credits: 2012 Miss USA Pageant pictures courtesy of Miss Universe Organization (MUO) with permission from Christina Clarke; Christina Clarke headshot picture courtesy of Jerry and Lois Photography