5 Bits of Job Search Advice from the 80’s Movies Director John Hughes

80s moviesYou know those movie quotes that you can say word for word? (Or that you wish other people would stop using already?)

Turns out, there's actually job search advice hidden in there.


Filmmaker John Hughes was responsible for many of the classic movies in the 80's and 90's including Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, and (National Lampoon's) Vacation.


Across these three films and his many others, he's authored some of the most commonly spoken movie quotes. I've selected a handful of my favorites and translated into advice for the job search:

Quote from The Breakfast Club:



"You ought to spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people."


Translation to interviews and the job search:

In resumes, cover letters, and interviews, many people are tempted to use big words to impress their interviewer. These include: 'intense', 'rigorous', 'cutting-edge', or 'thought-leadership'. Using such vocabulary can only get you so far, and using too many has been the death toll for some job applicants.


A better approach is to prove your abilities with past accomplishments and specific results: "With the technology upgrade I installed, we decreased website error complaints from 3 per day to 2 per month."


Quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off:


"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."


Translation to interviews and job search:

For many people, daily life gets in the way of the job search. Responsibilities to family and the community and to a current job can take up so much time that job searching (or interview preparation) ends up on tomorrow's to-do list.


Unfortunately, while they're keeping busy, their professional aspirations may be getting short-changed. As a result, they could get pigeonholed in a job they planned on only keeping for a short time.


There is a great job out there for you. Before you miss it, look for new opportunities and constantly expand your network.


Quote from Weird Science:


"If you want be a party animal, you have to learn to live in the jungle."


Translation to interviews and job search:

If you want be in a new type of job or new industry, you have to understand the culture and the business. You'll be more successful in an interview when you appropriately use the lingo and understand the core concepts.


To move into a new 'jungle', build relationships with the people who work in the field. These relationships can both give you introductions and show you the 'lay of the land.'


Quote from Sixteen Candles:



"When you don't have anything, you don't have anything to lose. Right?"


Translation to interviews and job search:

Often job seekers ask questions like, "I applied for the job but I didn't get a response, should I follow up?" or "I was supposed to hear back from my interview a week ago, but no word. Should I follow up?" or "I was introduced to someone at the company where I really want to work. I asked them to coffee but I didn't hear back, now what do I do?"


In these three situations and in many others in the job search, you are in the position of having nothing to lose. When in doubt, follow up. Reach out. You may end up with no response or a negative response, but you'll be no worse off than you are now.


Quote from Home Alone:


"This is it! Don't get scared now!"


Translation to interviews and job search:

The job search is an odd and often scary process. You can find yourself face-to-face with a job interview you weren't expecting or a position that seems too good to be true. You may get no interest for months and then need to schedule two interviews on the same day. You can walk into an interview without any idea about what questions you will be asked or who will be inside the room.


As you review these tips on how to interview and job seek, recognize that the process is stressful and nerve wracking. All you can do is prepare the best way you can and move forward as confidently as possible. 


 Read more articles by Alan Carniol (See below)