What Our Candidates Can Learn From Downton Abbey

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Jun 9, 2015
This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.

For those of us who enjoy period dramas, the PBS drama Downton Abbey is an enchanting journey into a different world, albeit one that actually existed less than 100 years ago. This critically acclaimed period soap opera chronicles the fictional British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants as they experience some notable historical events, such as the sinking of the Titanic in series one and the first World War in series two.

The most fascinating aspects of the show are not only its great characters – ranging from the dignified, good-hearted nobleman and his family (including his snobbish, sharp-tongued “Dowager Countess” mother) to the servants working downstairs (both likeable and fun-to-hate) – but the relationships between the characters based on their social class at a time when the strict social class system in England was in its dying throes.

While certainly there is much to be thankful for about our modern era, there is still much to be desired. The sense of honor and nobility even among the “lower” classes is admirable. They clearly operated under a different system of morals back then – one which, sadly, today’s society has lost. Downton Abbey may be a “soap opera,” but it’s certainly no Days of Our Lives.

I believe we can all learn a lot from the show and the period of time it portrays, and I think our job seekers should pay special attention. In truth, it’s not all that difficult to stand out from the plethora of other job hunters out there, but a few lessons from one of televisions best shows couldn’t hurt.

As we wait expectantly for a sixth and final series to begin this November, here are four lessons today’s job seekers can learn from this fantastic show.

For effect, as you read each point, be sure to read it in your most snobby British accent, Dowager Countess style!

1) Show some respect!
OK, “my lord” might be a stretch, but would a “sir” or “ma’am” be too much to ask, especially in an interview? Most interviewers would probably fall out of their chairs! Be polite, accommodating, friendly, and respectful, and you will differentiate yourself from those who aren’t.

2) Learn to use the King’s English appropriately!
In both written and oral communication, typos and grammatical errors not only spell incompetence, but indifference as well. If you struggle in this area there are steps you can take to improve – take a community college English class, start reading more (reading helps solidify sentence structure, word usage, spelling, etc. in your subconscious without having to really study –and a good reader is often a good writer and speaker), and, if you aren’t sure, always remember that Google is your friend.

And, for goodness sakes, have a friend look over your cover letter and resume before you send it out!

3) Get your “fop” on! (OK, maybe the Dowager Countess wouldn’t have phrased it quite like that, but it’s funny to imagine it!)
Back then, even the maids and kitchen help were decently and appropriately dressed. Folks in positions such as “butler” and “driver” were dressed almost as well as the nobility. Today’s job seeker may not need to wear a full tuxedo or corset (thankfully!), but they should at least dress a step above the position they are applying for.

4) Keep your chin up!
British folks may be known for their steadfastness in the face of adversity, but that doesn’t mean others can’t attain that as well. Job hunting is hard! The sense of despair and loss of self-esteem that comes with constant rejection, especially when the job hunter is facing financial issues (most, by definition, are), is one of the most difficult things many have ever faced.

While all the answers to this are another topic entirely, it’s important to find ways to stay optimistic, to keep your chin up, during the arduous job hunting process. Don’t let your lack of work at the moment define who you are. Desperation is not a desired trait to an employer, so never let them see you sweat!

This article originally appeared on StaffingTalk.
This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.
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