Make Like Madonna And Reinvent Yourself

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Written by Kirsten Taggart

It’s been almost thirty years since Madonna claimed fame as an international pop-icon, and at 52 years old, she continues to top the charts.  Needless to say, Madonna has come a long way since her Like a Virgin years, yet she has never lost her knack for catching the public’s eye. Yet Madonna is more than just a talented singer – she has mastered the art of reinventing herself. Like this pop star, it’s important for job seekers to know how to appeal to their audience (employers) and stand out in the crowded field of candidates.  With these three tips inspired by Madonna, you’ll be transformed into a corporate rockstar in no time.

Though it barely needs to be said, Madonna is an innovation leader.  She is constantly one step ahead of her industry and I attribute this to her ability to follow her passion while adapting to the times.  Even if you’re not a superstar, following her recipe for success is simple: reflect on what you do best. What are you passionate about and how can you incorporate that into your job search?  Think about how and in what fields your natural talents make you shine. Doing so will help narrow your search to positions you will enjoy as well as direct you towards corporate cultures in which you will feel comfortable.  Of course we all understand that aiming for the dream job isn’t always realistic (Enajite Onos explains this well in her post, For Love or Money), but it’s not a bad thing to start out on a smaller scale, if it means getting to do what you love. Remember, even Madonna didn’t rise to the top overnight!

With her creative vision in mind, Madonna then takes to the studio. She has built a reputation for being honest and a perfectionist about her work, but her critical eye has served her well. When it comes time to reevaluate your resume and cover letter, you too should be your own worst critic. Be certain that your talents, passions, and related skills are clearly stated. Take time to tailor your cover letter to each company which you apply; add relevant skills and eliminate unnecessary ones. Be sincere in your cover letter and leave out exaggerations. Remember, show your potential value rather than tell companies they should hire you.

When it’s time to make an appearance for the interview, give yourself a “get-with-the-times” makeover. Madonna’s outfits have come and gone with each era, and so should yours. Rummage through your wardrobe and toss a few trends that don’t seem to be coming back anytime soon. Your long suit jacket with the padded shoulders will stand out in today’s office just as much as Madonna’s traffic cone bra would, well, anywhere.

Although you may not become the Madonna of your field, the opportunity to grow your talents is not unreachable. All it takes is a little bit of creativity, some courage, and a lot of believing in yourself.

Jobseekers: how have you reinvented yourself to adapt to today’s job market?

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  1. Hi Kirsten,

    Fun post with lots of good info. Appearance, in text and in images, is critically important for job seekers.

    I refer my clients to a book by Charla Krupp that gives many quick makeover tips for every budget. Charla’s a genius at getting people to look their best. See for more details or grab the book from a local bookseller. Most of them carry it.



  2. Hi Kirsten, Love your post.

    Absolutely – like her or not, Madonna knows how to invent, innovate and reinvent her brand.

    I was in high school when she hit stardom and have been watching her career since. She has a keen sense of style and instinct of tapping into the public psyche as it changes through time.

    Your career analogy is right on: “Although you may not become the Madonna of your field, the opportunity to grown your talents is not unreachable. All it takes is a little bit of creativity, some courage, and a lot of believing in yourself.”

    Today, social media enables jobseekers to engage hiring managers quickly at the right time. Before you do, be sure to know yourself and what you’re looking for. Project confidence and the burning desire that you have what it takes to succeed (like Madonna in her early years). The right people will listen.

    Best, Mike

    P.S. Some Madonna trivia:

    Q: How and when did Madonna’s musical career start?

    A: Madonna arrived in New York City in the late 70s. After several small jobs (among which serving in Dunkin’ Donuts and nude modelling) and playing in some bands (the Breakfast Club and Emmy & The Emmies), she landed her first single Everybody in 1982 under Sire Records. (Source:

  3. Donna,

    I agree – first impressions both on paper and in person are important! No one should walk into an interview disorganized and disheveled. That said, I can certainly see the value in Charla’s book. I’ll check it out – quick tips are useful for anyone at any age.

    I’m glad you enjoyed and thanks for your book recommendation!

  4. Mike,

    Happy you liked it! Thanks for your feedback (and trivia – I did not know that! See? Even the best have to start somewhere). You’re 100% right when you say we need to know ourselves and know what we’re looking for. Setting a goal and sticking to it is tremendously motivating and, I believe, helps job seekers reach their targeted audience. Like you said, “The right people will listen.”

    Lucky you, getting to watch her over the years! I saw her first in the late 90s when she played Eva Peron in Evita and I was so impressed (it’s also my favorite Broadway show). She sure has come a long way!

  5. Kirsten,

    I was nodding, in agreement, throughout your post! Well done, and excellent analogy. Even for non-Madonna fans, the spot-on points should resonate.

    In particular, I love how you said: “Of course we all understand that aiming for the dream job isn’t always realistic … but it’s not a bad thing to start out on a smaller scale, if it means getting to do what you love. Remember, even Madonna didn’t rise to the top overnight!”

    YES! Whether freshly graduating from college or in one’s ‘mid-life’ career recreation, new paths CAN be forged that tap into one’s passions. The idea of ‘starting out on a smaller scale’ is superb, as that is often what makes ‘eating the elephant’ manageable and realistic.

    Never, ever give up hope, and your inspiring post helps guide readers down that path of career hope.

    Thank you!

  6. Kirsten,

    This is so applicable figuratively beyond job seeking — employee development, leadership development, business development, marketing, sales — you have to reinvent yourself regularly when living in a state of constant change, which we are more certainly in.

    Kudos! Strike the pose. Then strike it again, and again, and again…

  7. Jacqui,

    Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I hope people of all ages can find something to take away from this post (and Madonna herself!). I think it is important for job seekers to remember that everyone needs to start somewhere, and that somewhere is rarely the big position we dream about. I hope it does, as you say, inspire readers and remind them that there’s always room to grow.


  8. Kevin,

    Thank you for your comment! I agree – everyone in all walks of life should think about how they can transform to keep up with the ever changing trends of life. There is always room to reflect, reevaluate, and grow!

  9. Kirsten,
    Love the Madonna Metaphor. When I lecture on personal branding I reference her. As you state, while she is known for her reinvention, she does it within the context of current society against the backdrop of her passion in the moment. There’s a quote from her that says it all…it’s from her album, Ray of Light:
    “you can only learn so much in one place, the more that I wait the more time that I waste..”
    Fun post!

    1. Great quote, Judy! Madonna really is a wonderful example of molding one’s image to fit the context of the times, just as you said. It’s nice to see so many people of different generations being able to relate to her as a branding example – she’s a pro!
      Best, Kirsten

  10. I’m 35 now and came upon this site after googling “how to reinvent myself @ 35”. I graduated HS in 1994 and went straight to Emt/Fire 1 academy. I did really well throughout my 20’s working in the EMS/Fire field. I loved it!
    But, I had to come off the road at 30 to be a mom (which I love)…Now my kids are settled in school again and I’m lost! I don’t know if I’m to old now for that field…When I was pregnant I did gain medical billing exp, coding, etc as I was placed in the office while pregnant and obviously couldn’t be on the road….
    Anyway…I’m in a rut now. My husband has a great job and he is content with me at home or working..just as long as I can maintain our house resp, kids, etc…So, I’m torn as to if I should return to the ems field (I’d need recerts, etc first) OR do I find another field?
    Ty everyone……

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