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Build Your Career Get Ahead

7 Fabulous Career Lessons from 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

7 Fabulous Career Lessons from 'RuPaul's Drag Race'
LOGO's popular drag competition show offers a surprising amount of insight that can be applied to your job search. / Credit: LOGOtv.com

For those of you who are unfamiliar with "RuPaul's Drag Race," you might think it's just a silly show about men in wigs, makeup and heels. If you've seen "Drag Race," you know that, while there are indeed men in wigs, makeup and heels, it's an intense competition that asks performing artists to step outside their comfort zone and prove that they have the "charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent" to make it as a drag superstar.

Now in its sixth season, "Drag Race" has been praised for shedding light on the often-misunderstood art of drag. As a long-time RPDR fan and a relatively new business/career reporter, I recently realized that this colorful, theatrical show can also shed light on the do's and don'ts of advancing your career.

Ultimately, every queen who auditions for RPDR just wants to be noticed by the bigwigs (pun intended) of the drag world. Like many of us, they want to climb the ladder and feel like they've "made it" in their chosen career. Granted, there's probably a whole lot more sequins and hairspray in a drag queen's career than in yours, but the basic underlying message about how to reach the top still applies. Here are seven career lessons you can learn from "RuPaul's Drag Race." [How to Land Your Dream Job]

Being well-rounded is a huge advantage. The contestants on RPDR all come from different performance backgrounds and have different skill sets. Some can sing and dance, some can act, some can sew, and some have a razor-sharp wit that could rival the best mainstream standup comics. The drag queens who have multiple talents often fare better than the ones with a single specialty. As in your career or job search, proving that you have experience in a wide variety of areas related to your field can put you ahead of the competition.

Courtney Act Credit: LOGOtv.com

Ask for help when you need it. "Drag Race" is a competition, and the contestants never fail to remind each other that they're in it to win. But that doesn't mean they won't step up to the plate when someone needs to borrow some material, or needs help styling a wig. While self-sufficiency is an important trait in many careers, everyone can use a helping hand sometimes. Reach out to your professional contacts and mentors when you need assistance — but don't forget to return the favor.

Laganja Estranja and Bianca Del Rio Credit: LOGOtv.com

Don't be afraid to take risks. Before the judges give their critiques, RuPaul will declare several of the queens "safe" and send them away. Yes, being safe means you're not going home, but it also means you're not going to win the challenge. Your innovative, out-of-the-box idea could catapult you to the top spot at your company, but you won't know unless you decide to take that risk.

Milk as 'Workroom RuPaul' Credit: LOGOtv.com

Give the judges what they want… RuPaul gives very specific instructions for the weekly challenges and runway themes, and the queens who don't follow them are often chastised by the judges. When you're writing your résumé and cover letter, be sure to carefully read and follow directions. Tailor your application to fit the job description, because if you don't, the hiring manager won't give you a second glance.

Michelle Visage Credit: LOGOtv.com

…but stay true to yourself in the process. As many of the RPDR queens have learned, flexible and adaptable will get you pretty far. But if you're trying to be something you're not, it's going to backfire. When you try too hard to impress a hiring manager, the forced effort is often awkward, uncomfortable and transparent. Relax and be yourself, especially when it comes to that all-important interview.

Vivacious Credit: LOGOtv.com

There's always going to be drama. In a competitive environment, tensions can run high and disagreements can erupt. Conflict is a part of life, but the outcome depends entirely on how you handle it. When the queens start "throwing shade" and "reading" each other (for the uninitiated, these are drag slang terms for passive-aggressive insults), they can either let it get to them and throw them off, or let it slide like "water off a duck's back," as Season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon famously said. If drama breaks out, it's always best to stay focused and turn to your trusted colleagues for support and encouragement.

Laganja Estranja Credit: LOGOtv.com

If you're asked to "sashay away," handle it with dignity. At the end of each episode, the bottom two queens face off in a lip sync that determines who stays and who's eliminated. There may come a time when you're asked to do a sample project for a prospective employer, who will then decide which candidate gets the job. If the hiring manager chooses the other person, accept the company's response with grace and dignity. No one likes a sore loser, especially one who puts down the contestant (candidate) who beat her.

RuPaul Credit: LOGOtv.com

 

No matter what career you're in or pursuing, just remember..."You betta WERK."

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon
Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.