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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Improv Classes Keep Job Seekers on their Toes

Article by Randy Woods

Maybe it says something about the state of the local job market when professional comedians start acting as career consultants. While seeking employment in this economy is no laughing matter, many local job seekers are turning to the improvisational theater for inspiration on how to think fast during interviews. Last month, I wrote a post about a new class being offered by Seattle's famed Jet City Improv troupe to teach job seekers how to use improvisational skills to nail that next interview. This month, the Greenwood-based Taproot Theater is beginning a six-week course on how to build your confidence in virtually any kind of business environment, from networking to closing a sales deal.

Beginning on Mon., Sept. 21, and running through Oct. 26, Taproot's Improv(e) Your Business Skills! course will use a series of improvisational exercises and theater games to sharpen the mind and prepare students for those moments in a job interview that require lightning timing. Each Monday, from 7-9 p.m. over a month and a half, Taproot instructors Kevin Brady and Rob Martin will bring students up on stage to act out a series of situations--some comic, some that may be experienced in real life.

Sara Willy, director of education at Taproot, says the new course is "a product of what's going on in the economy right now. Jobs are hard to get out there, so some of our constituents asked that we do some classes to relate these improv skills to the business world."

Anyone who has seen Drew Carey's show "Who's Line is it Anyway?" will be familiar with many of the tried-and-true improv exercises used during the course, Willy says. "It's a serious course, but it's all designed to be fun," she says. "You might pretend to sell something while speaking entirely in gibberish, getting your message across only in body language. Or you might pick items out of a hat at random and make up stories on the spot."

Some of the course material will be determined by the attendees, Willy says. "If you already have a job, the classes can teach you sales skills and how to think on your feet," she says. "If you're looking for a job, this will help give you confidence during interviews. We can teach you how to talk while you're walking."

In addition, Jet City is expanding its improv class for job seekers later this month with its new Job Hunter's Survival Kit seminar on Tues., Sept. 29. In partnership with the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ), the all-day course will include sessions on resume-writing tips from career consultant Jill Walser, networking advice from PSBJ's Elizabeth Case and improv exercises from Andrew McMasters, artistic director of Jet City's parent company, Wing-It Productions.

To sign up for the $250 Improv(e) Your Business Skills! course, visit Taproot's registration page. For more information on Jet City's $165 Job Hunter's Survival Kit course, which also includes lunch and a free one-year PSBJ subscription, see Jet City's registration page. Class sizes for both courses are limited, so be sure to register early.

Writer and editor Randy Woods has filled out more job applications than he can count -- so you don't have to.

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