Grandma Goes to the Movies: Examining Collaboration and Leadership in Ocean’s Eleven

Jun 24, 2021 | Resumes

Grandma Goes to the Movies: Ocean's Eleven

Grab your popcorn! We’re headed to the movies this summer to explore the surprising job search lessons your favorite movies can teach you.

Communication, Collaboration, Coordination, and Leadership: These four areas are essential to highlight on your resume. We’ll show you how – with the help of a familiar film.

By: David Hartley | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma

Who doesn’t love a good heist movie? The thrill of the job, the unique cast of characters, and a gorgeous setting all play a part in delivering what could be a wild ride in Ocean’s Eleven

Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 retelling of the 1960 Rat Pack favorite packs in many unique and colorful characters to create an engaging heist film. It’s a movie where we enjoy spending time with these characters as they develop a plan, implement specific skills, and execute the perfect heist.

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But as I continually re-watch this film to this day, my resume writer brain keeps thinking about the different parts of Danny Ocean’s team.

“How did each of them contribute? What special skills did they bring to the table? How did they impact a collaborative environment? Wait a second …this sounds like a resume tie-in!”

Yes, dear reader, this is a resume tie-in. But how, you may ask? Every week I have clients that tell me that they excel in collaboration, communication, coordination, and leadership but have no idea how to display it on their resume.

Collaboration, communication, coordination, and leadership (the three C’s and L) are vitally important on a resume. Take a look at any job listing on LinkedIn or Indeed and I guarantee you that you would struggle to find a listing without one of those keywords.

So, we know that the three C’s and L are important, but how does this tie into 2001’s Ocean Eleven? Well, each character brings their own unique skill to the table, and I’m sure that you can identify with one of them, if not many of them. Let’s examine each character and how they fulfill the three C’s and L, and as a fun exercise, let’s write a sample bullet point for each of them!

Danny Ocean – “The Mastermind Strategist”

Danny OceanA man who needs no introduction, Danny Ocean is the mastermind of the “Benedict Heist.” He is an orchestrator of moving parts and operations as he identifies top talent to fit his dynamic team. He develops and implements key strategies and sees them through them with flawless execution.

There are times throughout your career where you will need to be a Danny Ocean – someone who sees the big picture and understands how each of the pieces fall into place.

If this is you, show us on your resume that you are this type of leader! A very simple way could be:

  • Developed, implemented, and executed the “Benedict Heist” by orchestrating a team of 11 resulting in the successful extraction of over $150M

Rusty Ryan – “The Coordinator”

Rusty RyanRusty is not only Danny Ocean’s right-hand man, but the collaborative leader behind the strategist. He ensures that all cross-functional moving parts are working together efficiently and effectively. He understands that cohesion among highly talented individuals results in organizational success.

Every week, I have clients that fall into this valuable category but don’t know how to describe it. They understand collaboration is important, but what makes it truly special to employers is if you can display the impact of your ability to cohesively maintain a team.

Showing it could look like this:

  • Created and maintained a culture of collaboration between highly talented, cross-functional individuals to efficiently and effectively execute multiple high-pressure situations

Reuben Tishkoff – “The Subject Matter Expert”

Reuben TishkoffReuben doesn’t play a pivotal role during the actual heist, but he provides vital information to Danny Ocean and Rusty about the inner workings of Las Vegas casinos and supports Danny and Rusty by mentoring them throughout the process.

There will be times where you won’t be hands-on for a particular project or task, but you will be called upon to divulge the expertise you have. This communication shows a talent to effectively convey ideas or expertise to other teams or individuals.

An easy way to show that could go something like this:

  • Communicated strategies to senior leadership as a subject matter expert to identify gaps in strategy and resolve them appropriately

Linus Caldwell – “The Cross-Functional Support”

Linus CaldwellLinus doesn’t quite fit into a particular group within the team, but he often finds himself supporting multiple functional areas. However, he understands that when called upon, he has his own special skills he can utilize.

You will encounter moments where you don’t have a specific fit within a team, but you make yourself impactful by supporting multiple areas of an organization. Cross-functional collaboration may seem like a buzzword these days, but I implore you to count how many times job listings bring it up.

Show future employers your flexibility and adaptability like this:

  • Collaborated with multiple cross-functional individuals to support various tasks including retrieving an EMP, rappelling the elevator shaft, and utilizing an expertise in pickpocketing

Frank Catton – “The Insider”

Frank CattonFrank understands the ins and outs of the casino world from years of experience dealing Blackjack. He is able to easily communicate the inner workings of the Bellagio to Danny and Rusty to ensure that everyone is accounted for.

There will be times where you know the inner workings of your organization better than others within your team. Your ability to communicate best practices to new team members shows a leadership quality that can be seen as mentorship, guidance, and coaching.

Be sure to communicate that skill on your resume with something like this:

  • Communicated the best practices of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino to ensure all team members were fully informed of staff operations, guard patrols, and camera placement

Basher Tarr – “The Specialist”

Basher TarrBasher possesses a unique set of skills that are essential to the success of the heist as the only member who knows how to activate an EMP device, enabling them to knock out power for the whole Vegas strip. However, without the help of the other members of the team, his part of the heist would have never come to fruition. He needed to cross-functionally collaborate with them to ensure that his highly specialized part of the heist was successful.

There will be times where you need to work with team members that may not specialize in what you do. Your ability to collaborate with others to ensure your goals and the larger goals of the team are achieved is important.

Showing the smaller parts of the collaboration as they build to the larger picture can be shown like this:

  • Coordinated successful extraction and utilization of EMP device to ensure the effective execution of the “Benedict Heist”

The Malloy Brothers – “The Multitaskers”

The Malloy BrothersThe Malloy Brothers are a special situation within the team. They don’t possess a unique skill or expertise that would rival others on the team, but what they do is fill in gaps to maintain efficiency throughout the heist.

There will be times where you have to dig in and serve within a team without much in the way of leadership opportunities.

It’s still important to display this ability, but to sell it as a skill, you need to call out the specific tasks you completed and show flexibility throughout a project:

  • Performed numerous key roles throughout the “Benedict Heist” to ensure its success including serving as the distraction, reconnaissance, and getaway drivers

Livingston Dell – “The Technologist”

Livingston DellLivingston has a very specialized skill within the team. He is the code-cracker, hacker, and everything technology related. But how does this tie into collaboration? While Livingston may understand everything he’s working on, Danny Ocean and the rest of the team need to know as well. Livingston serves as a technical liaison to the rest of the team so they can understand how to use the technologies he’s developed for the heist.

In today’s technological world, there will be times where you may know more about tools, systems, industry trends, than your fellow teammates. It’s up to you to effectively and clearly communicate what they may not know.

Try demonstrating this on your resume like this:

  • Communicated technical aspects of the plan as a technical liaison to ensure team members fully understand new technologies, gadgets, and surveillance equipment

Saul Bloom – “The Subject Matter Expert (Part 2!)”

Saul BloomWhile Reuben may be the subject matter expert for casinos, Saul is the subject matter expert for cons.

He utilizes a life’s worth of old-school techniques and tricks to pull the wool over Terry Benedict’s eyes as he positions another team member within the vault.

You may have a career’s worth of experience in a specialized field. Be sure to demonstrate how it impacts the organization or team you work with to prove that your knowledge doesn’t just exist in a vacuum but will be useful for the company you’re applying to:

  • Spearheaded the plan to successfully infiltrate the vault and place “The Amazing Yen” within it by utilizing a career’s worth of expertise in impersonation and manipulation

The Amazing Yen – “The Specialist (Part 2!)”

amazing yenWe end on the most unique team member of Danny Ocean’s crew, Yen. Unlike the others, Yen doesn’t have a lion’s share of the planning. Nonetheless,he displays confidence as he assures his fellow team members that his talents will lead to success.

I am sure there were times throughout your career where you needed to take charge within a team you were working with. Showing how you lead within a team is vital on your resume, especially when you don’t have a direct leadership role within your organization to list.

Don’t mince any vital details when describing your talents on your resume:

  • Developed, implemented, and executed vault infiltration and vault door cracking by utilizing acrobatics expertise to ensure unnoticed infiltration

Collaboration, communication, coordination, and leadership are some of the most important keywords you will find on a job listing. Being able to combine those skills with other keywords makes every bullet on your resume strong, compelling, and dynamic. No project is done alone, so be sure to define your valuable role on the team and show it the next time you turn in a resume!

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