Stereotypes Need Not Apply

Members of rock bands suffer from a particular hedonistic stereotype. As with all stereotypes, there is some truth in this, but it is limiting.

When is Scotland a few weeks ago, I visited a smokehouse owned by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, part of a wider group including fish farms. There is also Dr Brian May, astrophysicist and guitarist of Queen. And over the weekend, I read of Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, who is trying to set up an airline.

One thought relates to changing career direction, and I will return to that later in the week. However, overcoming stereotypes is something to deal with first. How did these three do it?

Admittedly, Ian Anderson simply invested the money he made. Brian May had partly completed a PhD before Queen took off, and was able to complete it because nobody else had done the same research in the interim. However, if he had a good enough first degree, and had kept up an interest in the subject, he would anyway have the track record  to be accepted for a PhD anyway.

The most interesting is Bruce Dickinson. Not only did he set up an aircraft maintenance company last year, but he has an airline pilot’s licence. Additionally, Iron Maiden have their own aircraft for touring, which they also rent out for charter flights. Again, this is a strong track record.

How can you reframe an employer’s view of the stereotype? We are not talking of straight unreasoning discrimination, but a view which may be partly justified. To take an example, they idea that footballers are uneducated. This is not, of course, true of every footballer.

Build and show a track record which bucks the expectation. The footballer could learn a language, master a craft or pursue an interest in natural history. The advantage of overcoming the stereotype in the first place is that the footballer then stands out from the crowd as someone unexpected and memorable. That helps further down the line in the selection process.



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