A News Director’s Advice on Job Searching and Applying
- Send your resume named with your full name. Instead of “Updated Jennifer Resume” put Jennifer Hardy Resume. For the most part, we have to download the resumes and organize them to put into a file. Having your name on it makes it REALLY easy to search. I have dozens of “Update Resume” in my files and dangit, it’s hard to find you in that!
- Please make your resume easily printable. Don’t go so fancy the hiring manager can’t print it out if needed. Make sure all hyperlinks work. I once got a one-page resume that took 5 pages to print with all the code and modules on it.
- Make sure your link works if you are attaching a reel. I can’t tell you how many dead links I get. I try to let you know if you sent a private or dead link, but it’s not always possible. If I am looking through 20 reels and two of them are dead links, you risk me moving on.
- Have a reel that showcases what you are applying for, please. If you are applying for an anchor job, don’t send all reporting work with a small clip of one segment of anchoring. I want to see how you command a full A Block, not clips of the best of the best.
- We understand the waiting game is tough, but please don’t email or call every few days saying “Did you get it? Did you get it?” Yes, we got it, but there are so many variables to hiring and we can’t respond to each and every “Did you get it?”
- Be honest in your cover letter or email application. If you have a contract that is up in 6 months, say so. If you are looking immediately, say so. I might have openings in both of those time frames, but making it seem like you are available now when we’re 6 months out is a nearly impossible time span to wait. If I can do without a position for 6 months, I (and people above me) have to ask if that position is absolutely necessary.
- Backup your skill sets with showcased proof of performance. For example, I have a Social Video Producer position open, and it’s someone who can master social media. However, about half the applicants didn’t have any proof of social media on their resume, and when I went looking for it I saw just basic social media appearances of family, food, friends and pets. Some of which weren’t updated in weeks.
- Make sure your phone gets phone calls from unknown numbers. This is a new one for me, and it’s happened twice this month. Some phones silence unknown calls, and some go straight to voicemail until you identify who you are. I get it, we all hate unknown calls, but if a hiring manager sets up a time to talk and can’t get a hold of you, we have to wonder why you aren’t there. Maybe ask for the number ahead of time to add to your phone so you don’t miss a call. Or arrange for you to call the hiring manager to avoid this.
- If a post says “no phone calls”, don’t call. There’s a reason why and it’s not personal. It’s just a lack of time. If there is no stipulation, avoid phone calls during or near news time. Understand that is a busy time of day in our world and taking a cold call isn’t going to fit into the mix.
- I promise you, if we are interested we WILL contact you. (I have to tell myself this during the times I am looking as well and know it’s along the lines of saying “He’s Just Not That Into You” when the line goes cold.) Weeks go by and it feels like you’ve been ignored, but you never can imagine the items that come up in a News Director’s work life that take them away from the hiring process for a few weeks.
- Check the station digital platforms before emailing or reaching out. If it’s a big storm day or breaking news is happening, your email or call has a huge chance of getting pushed down below all the other email. Wait a day or two. (And while you are on the website, learn more about the news in the market so you can talk freely about your observations of the product.)
- Watch the station’s newscast if you can before reaching out. I’ve talked to so many people who haven’t seen a newscast, looked at our website, or seen our presence on social media. Make your introduction a reflection of that. Saying “I like the work your station does and want to be part of a thriving team” sounds like a line you’d use to ANY station. Be specific, especially if you want to stand out.
- Gauge the hiring pool for the position you want. Sports reporter position? We are going to get hundreds of resumes. We will be flooded. Overnight producer? Not so much. It helps to think hard about what group of candidates you are actually in. You’ve got more of a chance in the less-demanded positions than in the job everyone wants.
Look, trying to find a job, whether it’s the first one or the 5th one and you are trying to search while working full-time, looking for a job is a whole other job in itself. It’s tough, time-consuming, deflating at times, and exhilarating other times. Let’s make it as easy as can be on each other.
Here are some standout tips:
- If you are interviewing with a Gen X’er or Boomer, send a handwritten card after the interview process. Send one to each person you interviewed with. I can’t speak for Millennial managers, but I know I was raised to send handwritten notes after literally every birthday party, interview, act of kindness, etc. We appreciate the effort, and it’s just more personal than a text or email.
- If you can’t resist messaging (I get it, we’ve all been there) to follow up, do it with a touch of “I know you are busy and here’s why I am really interested in it.” But again, check the website. They might have a huge story that happened making it impossible to think of anything but day-to-day coverage.
- Be ready to interview when the time is scheduled. Get your game face on. I have had so many interviews where people have answered with a less than enthusiastic “hello” like the call was inconvenient or I’d just woken them from a nap.
- Have questions ready for us. You are interviewing us as much as we are interviewing you. We are journalists and ALWAYS have questions. Show you are as involved in the process as we are.
At the end of the day, I promise you, we all end up where we need to be. I’ve had jobs I thought were dream jobs that turned out to be not-so-dreamy and I’ve had other jobs where I was a little apprehensive that turned out to be pivotal moments in my career.