Article written by guest blogger:Lauren Heaton Miss Rodeo America 2015
Your First Impression Is On Paper, Not In Person
Applications, they are your first impression in any type of formal competition. Whether it’s for your admission into college, a job, or yes, even a rodeo queen pageant, your first impression is made on paper, not in person.
It’s essential to stand out. Whether there’s two contestants in a local pageant, or 36, competing for Miss Rodeo America, make your application showcase you as the best and obvious choice. Showcase your best attributes, qualifications, personality, and why you should be the only option for the position. Dazzle, entertain, impress, and make sure it’s in 150 words or less. Getting overwhelmed and stressed yet? Good.
View your application as a resume. Besides that’s what it is; a resume for a job interview. As a judge, going into a pageant, I have in mind the type of girl I’m looking for in that title, and I have created a checklist in my mind. As I read your application, don’t leave one box unchecked. My first question is always do you want this job or do you want the crown and glitz associated with it? Are you qualified? Are you authentic and genuine? Are you a good horsewoman? What do you enjoy doing outside of the western world? Your application should read like a good book that I already know the ending to, that you’re going to be a rodeo queen. Think back to your last application, did the format showcase all of these about who you are?
In my years of experience with being a rodeo queen and helping other young woman I find that the necessary time and focus on applications content is not being done adequately. Ladies, this is not just a space to put your extracurricular activities and why you’ve always wanted to be a rodeo queen. Instead, list every reason why you want this job, why you’re qualified, and why no one else could represent that title better. Give the reader different aspects and dynamics to who you are that they learn about you, outside of being a rodeo queen.
Being a rodeo queen, at any age, is just one small part of your life as whole. Think about how much of your life is ahead of you after age 26. Make sure when you list future goals on your application, they are actually YOUR goals in life, and not just what you think will make you sound like the best titleholder. I will have just as much respect an admiration for a young girl who states a goal of hers is to become a nurse, or teacher, as the girl who says it’s to become the first woman Commissioner of the PRCA or a multiple AQHA World Champion. Quality content represents you took time and energy into making sure your application represents who you are, and not what someone else wanted you to appear to be on paper. When in an interview, make sure everything on the paper in front of the judge, perfectly represents the young woman you are sitting before them. And does that representation of yourself on paper reflect who you want it to?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a minimum of 10 people read your application. At clinics I always stress how important it is to filter people’s opinions, in order to grow as a person, but stay true to who you are. And your application is no different. Think about how many different types of people could potentially be your judges? What their backgrounds might be, their individual passions and beliefs. Transcribing your thoughts, characteristics and opinions down on paper exactly as they are in your head is hard; getting numerous people’s feedback helps you figure out what areas need more clarification or less.
Now if people start recommending changes to core aspects of your application that represent who you are, then politely say thank you, and ignore. They’ll never know what you ended up using or not using.
At the end of a pageant, the judges will have watched you numerous times, in different settings and outfits. But the first and last thing they review at each event, is your application. Be genuine, be authentic, be YOU, because everyone else is already taken.
We also asked Katherine for her advice on applications, “Your application is your opportunity to make a positive first impression – make it professional while reflecting your personality. Just like a job application, errors send the message that you aren’t willing to put in the time and effort or that you aren’t serious about the job. When you have completed and proofread your application, ask other people to do the same – you can’t proofread an application too many times!”