How to Land a Job While Watching TV: The Couch Potato’s Guide


Couch Potato Job Searcher

You’re watching tv with your roommates. They all have laptops, but you’re that kid who thought it was a good idea to bring a desktop to college. They are instant messaging (each other about how you never do your dishes), Youtubing, Facebooking, and Googling, all while watching tv. They’re reading online episode guides to get caught up with the series that you’re watching. When a company has a great commercial with a web address, they’ll probably type it in. What’s on tv has become a driving force in online activity. This might sound like a marketer’s wet dream, but Google Trends shows just how much what is on tv drives online search.

With that said, we thought it would be fun to see how college students can get job search ideas from watching tv. Now, leaving a permanent impression of your butt on the couch cushion while you eat Cheesy Poofs is not a legitimate job search tactic. However, if you’re going to watch the boob tube anyways, you might as well make the most of it. Here are tips on how to find jobs while watching the tv.


Most of the employment related commercials that you see on tv are ads for job boards or vocational programs, both of which aren’t very helpful to a new college grad. There aren’t too many companies that use television as an employment branding or recruiting medium, but that doesn’t mean that commercials aren’t a valuable tool in your job search. Think about which commercials speak to you or at least make you look up from the computer screen for a second. If you love a company’s products, message, or marketing, there’s a decent chance that you’ll also like working for them. Commercials are targeted to the audience that watches a given show, so by watching what you like, you should find employers that will be a good fit.

You can also use commercials as an introduction to new companies or industries. Many times you’ll see a commercial for a company, and you’ll have no idea what the company does. Why not take it as an opportunity to find out? They could be a big employer in the area you’re getting your degree in. Other times it will be an ad for an entire industry, like the dairy industry. By going to the industry’s association website, you can find all types of career opportunities, since many industry associations have their own job boards.

Don’t forget about PSAs or political ads that might bring attention to a social condition that you’d like to see changed. Why not research entry level non-profit jobs that address those issues? Also, local commercials (although they’re often dominated by car dealerships and furniture stores) might give you some great ideas if you’re hoping to stay in the same immediate area.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to fast forward through the commercials if you have a DVR, just pay attention as they fly by! It’s not the content of the commercial that’s usually important, it’s about identifying potential employers and using your tv watching as a jumping off point for researching companies.

The News

The news is filled with job ideas. Every day they report on companies, new technologies, declining or thriving industries, and other economic conditions. One newscast can give an unfocused job searcher (that’s not a bad thing) enough ideas to keep him or her busy with research for hours. There’s nothing in particular that you need to keep a lookout for. Just watch what’s happening in the world and think about how that affects your career plans. CNBC is one of the best resources for this, because they provide a constant flow of news about companies and industries. And while you’re watching, don’t forget to keep an eye on a potential employer’s financial results, because that will have a lot to do with whether they are hiring and what the work climate will be like if you get hired.

If you’re a news junkie, this probably won’t help you much, but if you feel like you’re in a bubble when you’re at college, watching the news for 10 minutes a day (try Headline News, because they are on a constant loop without too many in-depth stories) can get you ready to find a job and perform well in an interview. Don’t forget to watch the local news either. It offers all the same types of ideas that a national news broadcast will, but on a smaller, more approachable scale.

Reality TV

There are a ton of reality tv shows that are focused on people’s professions. They may not be accurate portrayals of what life is like in the jobs that they feature, but they will give you a look at the extremes that you might face in a given profession. Here are some examples of employment based reality shows and the professions that they cover: Top Chef (Chef), Top Design (Interior Decorator), America’s Next Top Model (Model), Workout (Personal Trainer), American Idol (Singer), King of Cars (Car Dealer), and Dog the Bounty Hunter (Bail Bondsman). We don’t really recommend signing up for one of the contest based shows as a way to get an entry-level job, but if you’re gutsy it might get you an in somewhere.

There is another kind of reality show which is much less sensationalized. Documentaries can be a great resource for ideas about what you want to do with the rest of your life. Whether it’s MTV’s True Life or a PBS Special on auto workers, there’s a good chance that you’ll get to look at employment in a unique way. Scan the tv listings for documentaries that match up with your interests, you might just find a new idea for a job.

Other Shows

There are plenty of other shows that will help you build ideas for your job search. Talk shows like the Today Show cover the news in a more digestible format, which you might appreciate. They also spotlight new products quite often. We also really like the Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, which is on CNBC and focuses on successful entrepreneurs. It will definitely get you thinking about how you can find a successful career, although it might tempt you to start your own business instead of looking for a job (go for it!).

Tell us what shows you enjoy and might be helpful to other job searchers in the comments.

Jobs in Television

Lastly, we don’t want to ignore the obvious. There are plenty of entry level jobs in television. We’ve already featured jobs at ESPN, CNN, Fox News, and Current. We’ve also written about internships at MTV Networks and Current on One Day, One Internship. So, if watching tv makes you want to work in tv, check out the posts we’ve mentioned.

Now What?

Is watching tv going to find you a job? Probably not. But if you approach watching tv, as well as everything else that you do in life, with the perspective of a job seeker, you’re going to be much more likely to find what you’re looking for (even if you don’t know what that is). You’ll also be extremely well prepared for interviews, because you’ve used your tv watching habit as a way to become knowledgeable about the company or industry that you’d like to be employed in.

So, what do you do next? As you find ideas, do research and make lists of the companies and industries that interest you. Make sure that you’ve read our article on How to Use Google to Find a Job to make sure you’re finding al the valuable employment related information that you can. There are a lot of tips and tricks that you probably didn’t know existed, and they’ll help you significantly with turning your ideas into jobs.

And if you still can’t find any jobs that interest you, watch Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, because that’s what you might end up doing.

Photo Attribution: Thanks to Flickr user oddsock for allowing us to use the photo in this post through the Creative Commons license (PS: Creative Commons has entry-level jobs.)

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2 responses to “How to Land a Job While Watching TV: The Couch Potato’s Guide”

  1. Linda says:

    Very clever post, Willy. I will forward it to my son, a freshman in college — also the URL for your new site on internships. Great idea!

    To continue with the couch potato theme, I recently found a book that I think is revolutionary in its approach to Gen Y and Millenials on how to job search. It’s written by Lindsey Pollak and the title is “Getting from College to Career.” It suggests 90 tips to accomplish during your college years to help in finding that first job. It’s written with compassion but it is realistic and an easy read IMHO.

    Anyone in college or twenty-something job hunting should be able to learn something from it — and still be a couch potato. ;-)


  2. MINA LEON says:

    how can i find a job where i can use my voice…? i have a great telephone voice and think i would do great being a voice for commercials or radio stations……

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