Six shows that demonstrate using skills in unexpected ways

We’re not quite out of the woods yet, but the recent research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) Jobs Recovery Tracker showed an uptick in the number of job ads posted during last month (August) , indicating rising recruitment activities since lockdown. And with numerous employees, HR professionals included, and their careers heavily impacted by COVID-19, many are considering opportunities in different industries or job functions.

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But if you’re one of those people who are considering a new position, you might wonder, ‘how can I use my expertise in a completely different role?’. We’ve put together five films (and a bonus TV show) that show characters using their skills in unexpected ways, when push comes to shove, to provide you with some inspiration.

The below contains spoilers…

1. The Pacifier (2005) – from a Navy SEAL to a babysitter

A soldier has to be prepared at all times, and with experience heading up military operations in every corner of the globe, this is exactly what Shane Wolfe (Vin Diesel) is… or at least he’s supposed to be. In the film he’s tasked with protecting five children, and his mission takes him from dangerous terrains abroad to the suburbs in Maryland, US. Despite being surprised on more than one occasion by the unfamiliar territory, he remembers his training to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his targets.

2. Baby Boom (1987) – from an advertising executive to a mother and entrepreneur

This film follows the story of J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton), a driven advertising executive career woman and how her life is suddenly thrown into turmoil when she inherits a toddler from a deceased cousin. Like many professional women, she faces the challenge of balancing her successful career and motherhood. And despite the series of unfortunate events that follow, she takes the opportunity to turn these hardships around and creates her own business – a gourmet baby food line.

3. Parasite (2019) – from folding pizza boxes to full-time house staff

Having won four Oscar awards, you shouldn’t miss this black-comedy film from South Korea. It will have you laughing and marvelling at the antics of the Kim family as they try to gain employment as the house staff of the more affluent Park family. Their creative ways and great negotiation skills to grab and create opportunities for themselves are very entertaining and almost inspiring to watch (but don’t try at home, please – you’ll see why).

4. School of Rock (2003) – from a rock band member to a schoolteacher

Ex-rock-band guitarist, Dewey Finn (Jack Black) finds himself in financial trouble when he gets kicked out of his rock band ‘No Vacancy’ and behind on his rent payments. Desperate to get out of this pickle, he takes on the identity of his friend to work as a substitute teacher in a private prep school. Albeit working with an ulterior motive, Dewey brings his chaotic nature to the classroom and helps inspire the musical talents of his students, motivating them to become more confident by sharing his passion for music.

5. The Intern – from a retired executive to a fresh intern

If nothing else works, you can always start anew! This is exactly what 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert de Niro) does when he decides to apply for the senior-citizen intern program at a fast-growing start-up. Under the wing of founder and CEO, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), he learns the skills needed to work and navigate around the fast-paced workplace while sharing his wisdom with his much younger colleagues. This demonstrates that even if you work in a completely different setting, the knowledge and experience you’ve built up over the years will always come in handy.

6. Bonus: Snowpiercer (2020) – from engineer to hostess to head authority

This post-apocalyptic series tells the story of humanity’s last survivors and their life on a train, separated by class. While the whole show revolves around the theme of power and class struggles, the story of Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly), an engineer who is now the Head of Hospitality and the ‘Voice of the Train’, is even more intriguing. Melanie is truly adaptive, and we later discover her to be the Great Engineer of Snowpiercer (the highest authority) behind the scenes. While keeping her real identity secret, she faces the crushing burden of directing the train, managing the conflicts that arise due to resources and segregation between the people on the train, and ensuring everyone’s survival – making some very questionable ethical decisions along the way.

What other films show characters using their skills in unconventional or unusual ways? We’d love to hear your recommendations. If you’d like more suggestions on what to watch, check out these five Netflix TV shows and films for HR.

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