How to Prepare for the Role of a Successful Employee

What was the last movie you saw starring Robert De Niro? Whatever it was, my guess is that the acting was impressive. While some of his movies do better in the box office than others, De Niro never fails to deliver in his role. In his 40-plus-year career, he has proven himself time and time again on screen, and both casting directors and audiences alike know that regardless of what character he portrays, the acting will be top notch.

If you are an aspiring actor, one can only hope to follow Mr. De Niro’s successful career path. But what about job seekers applying for more traditional roles? What parallels can be drawn from a successful acting career and preparing to prove to your future employer that you will be a valuable part of their workforce? There is one word that comes to mind – versatility. When Robert De Niro plays a role, he does it convincingly and leaves no doubt in the viewer’s mind that he IS the character whom he is portraying. How can he portray a murderer in one movie and a loving father in another and play them both so convincingly? That’s part of his genius…and what makes him hireable.

For most job seekers, your future career will involve working in an office setting, and within this setting, you will have to play many parts. And like a successful actor, you will need to play them all convincingly. Here are a few roles you will need to master to be successful in the workplace:


Ever met someone who truly couldn’t write? I don’t mean a novel, or even a blog, but a simple e-mail. Would you hire them? Despite the popularity of texting abbreviations, the ability to construct complete sentences and express your thoughts in written form is essential, yet many view this skill as simply not integral to their job. Writing in some form will be the basis of all your communication with clients, coworkers and management. Even if your intelligence is off the charts, if you can’t communicate intelligently in writing, no one will take you seriously.

Public Speaker:

Few people enjoy speaking in front of crowds, but at some point in your career, chances are you will be required to do so. Presenting information to coworkers or clients requires preparation and confidence, and like most things, improves with practice. Try to attain some level of comfort when speaking to a group, and if the preparation is there, the confidence will follow.


Your teachers in school didn’t assign you all those research papers for nothing. Research doesn’t just make you knowledgeable about a subject, it develops your ability to acquire knowledge. Every job will require you to continuously acquire knowledge. It may be for a presentation, a report or simply to improve your own job performance, but research will always be a required skill, even if you’re not aware you’re doing it.

Social Media Strategist:

We all know that nowadays, social media is everywhere. Not all jobs utilize it, but most individuals do. If your future job requires it, don’t look like you just walked out of 1995 by not knowing the basics of the most popular social media sites. Social media is still a new medium, and while everyone may be posting and tweeting about what they did last weekend, only a select few know how to use it to truly leverage their personal brand. As a job seeker, you can use this to your advantage by demonstrating the ability to connect with colleagues in your chosen field, and by steering clear of any negative content.

Business Manager:

Regardless of your standing on the job ladder, learn the art of management. You’ll be expected to manage your time, your finances, your workload, client expectations, etc. If your last job didn’t involve responsibility, get used to the fact that your next one probably will. The more you can handle, the more will be given to you, which will inevitably lead to better roles with bigger salaries.


Okay, this one may have a negative connotation to some, but one thing all politicians are good at is networking. They meet lots of people, shake hands, kiss babies and make a ton of connections. If you’re an introvert, learn to come out of your shell. It may be a gradual process, but it’s rare to find a job where making connections with others in the industry won’t help you. Whether it’s at an industry conference, a networking event or just around the office with your coworkers, you never know when you’ll need to reach out to your network for support.

No one expects you to excel at everything, but a good employee will bring a number of skill sets to the table. And just like an accomplished actor, one never knows which skill set will be required for his or her next role. If you are fortunate, you have one or two specialties for which you are known, and your expertise in these areas makes you truly hireable. But the more skills a job seeker is able to hone, the better he or she will fare in the job market. And while your skills may not include the ability to make a theater full of movie-goers laugh hysterically, or give them nightmares, the next best thing would be to convince your potential employer that you will be a valuable asset to their team.

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.