Getting Your First Job in Broadcasting

Getting Your First Job in Broadcasting PanelWe decided to head to this session with the hopes that we’d get some valuable information for our colleagues about pulling ahead of the competition in the job market.

Hit refresh in the blog post to see the live updates as they pour in! This is a good session for anyone at TV2 KSU to follow, especially those seniors who will be job hunting soon!

1:01 p.m.: Session underway. Caila Brown, Telfair Museums; Kenneth Brown, VP of Human Resources at Public Broadcasting Atlanta; Danielle Koch, Studio Operator at CNN; and Michael Taylor, Adviser at WVVS Valdosta State University and former radio personality and manager.

1:06 p.m.: Starting the job search. Try to look for internships. They are critical to getting experience and gaining a grasp on how organizations function, networking and how to build relationships within a media organization. Finding a mentor to give you suggestions along the way is important, as well – someone to help steer you and teach you how to present yourself in the first interview.

1:08 p.m.: Start now, no matter where you are in your academic career. Seek out people in markets you want to be a part of. Building contacts in 90% of the game.

1:11 p.m.: Getting to know people and building alliances is key in any creative endeavor. If anyone encourages you to stay in touch, do it. Six months down the road let them know where you are. Sending a professional letter to someone to update them makes a better impression than getting lost in the shuffle of 500 new emails in an employer’s inbox. A written letter-perfect communication is the best. Make sure there are absolutely no typos. The initial communication shows how careful and precise you are. Typo in the resume = reel in the garbage.

1:12 p.m.: Right now CNN and Time Warner has all of their spring internships listed online. Use a PDF so any electronic upload system doesn’t scramble your formatting. It’s dangerous to rely on a Word or OpenOffice document’s formatting.

1:14 p.m.: It’s always important to maintain on online portfolio. But you have to be very particular about the kind of work you make available online. When replying to a job posting, you have to send work specific to the job you’re applying for. Don’t just make one generic portfolio and send it everyone. Don’t turn off employers but not thinking about the product and service they’re providing. It may be cumbersome to create many pieces of work, but it will be better for you in the long run.

1:16 p.m.: Your online presence will be a bit more generic than samples you send to employers. The reel you send to whatever job you’re applying for needs to be specific and targeted for that station. Don’t send a music video you edited with a news editor job application. You may get the following reply: “Excuse me, we don’t do MTV in my news shop.”

1:17 p.m.: Don’t make it hard to find out what you have to offer. Make it easy to see that you are the solution to a problem. Put your web address and contact information on your resume and in your reel. Put that information everywhere you can so employers don’t have to hunt for it – because they won’t. They’ll move on.

1:19 p.m.: Maintain your web presence. Keep it perfectly up-to-date. Don’t host through your university or college. Chances are it will eventually get deleted. There’s nothing more de-selling than a bunch of outdated material. Make sure your domain name and email address are recognizable and professional.

1:20 p.m.: Make sure to check your personal website in multiple browsers and platforms. Some browsers will distort your designs. Make sure it’s viewable on both Mac and PC. Make sure it’s viewable on netbooks, tablets and smartphones. Make it easy for employers. Spend $30 to $50 on a custom WordPress theme. Don’t go with a default. Chances are they will be easily distorted.

1:22 p.m.: Best bet – do the formal HR application process. Find out who it is in the organization who can actually say yes or no to you being hired. DO NOT CALL. Check online. Quickest way in the world to turn off someone who is busy is to call and waste their time. Write to them or send to them all of the information you’ve got – resume, letter, reel.

1:24 p.m.: If they see you only have three years of experience, they’ll put you aside if they’re looking for five. BUT if they seem your reel from a reputable company they know and respect and it’s been sent directly to the person who can say yes or no – they will make exceptions for the experience requirement.

1:25 p.m.: Make sure you tailor and target each application to each job. Write your letter and prep material to everything you’ve been told the employer wants in their ad. That’s how you set yourself apart. 95% of folks in competition with you are sending out everything they can to everyone they can. The BEST way to set yourself apart is to let the employer know you really want to work for them and are not just looking for another job.

1:27 p.m.: Use your connections! Find some “in” at the place you want to work. Go in for a tour. Leave resumes with people you meet. Follow up with thank you emails.

1:28 p.m.: Degrees of separation are important. Media is a small community. Somebody that knows somebody that knows you can at least get you a name and introduction. Persistence is essential. The sixth call you make on the same client in advertising typically results in the sale. Same applies to jobs. “No” does not mean “never.” If it’s “never” they’ll tell you. The key is keep coming back. remind the employer you’re there. Every so often, touch base again.

1:30 p.m.: Networking groups work. Go meet people and make your skills known. Even small, freelancing jobs are jobs that pay. They often result in bigger gigs. Don’t self-pomote, but talk to other people and ask about them. Find out key tidbits you can pull up later in conversation to show people you are listening and care about them. If an employer has someone in their office recommend you, they know people already have a vested interest in you and that you may be valuable.

1:31 p.m.: Target positions you’re applying for. Don’t apply for every position an individual company has open. Don’t come straight out of college and apply for everything from CEO to cameraman. That’s a good way to get blacklisted with a company. You don’t want your name associated with a personality that just blanket applies for everything.

1:32 p.m.: Use your cover letter to really speak to that job posting. It’s the piece that connects the dots from the resume to the job your applying for. Two things in the cover letter: 1. Who you are and why you want to work for the station AND talk about the specific market you’re applying to. 2. Give two things in your cover letter that drive the employer to the resume and connect your skills to the position. Don’t recap your whole resume. Hint at it. Drive the employer to it.

1:34 p.m.: Resumes gives the employer a reason to want to talk to. Don’t list references in any reason or form unless the employer specifically asks you to. They know you’re listing people who will say nice things. Employers want the truth. “Is this person eligible for rehire” is about the only question employers really want to ask. If your old organization won’t even have you back, that communicates you don’t have what it takes to maintain employment. Employers will call everyone on your resume, check you on Facebook, analyze your web presence and call faculty from your school.

1:37 p.m.: Do not include pictures in your resume. They’ll see you on your reel. Part of HR’s job is to get rid of the pictures. No images anywhere. Government rules dictate employers can’t see your gender or race ahead of time.

1:38 p.m.: Google yourself ahead of time and be aware of what comes up. If you can’t get rid of something embarrassing or odd that comes up when you Google your name, own it. Indicate that you know what’s out there and have a well-though-out and educated response to it.

1:40 p.m.: Top 20 markets won’t hire people with no experience even for entry level positions – they don’t want to train. Don’t try to start above where you really need to be. Secondary market stations are great learning grounds. You have the freedom to get your hands on basically everything. Looking at a camera doesn’t teach you how to use it. You have to get your hands on gear to learn how to use it. Major markets are looking for three to ten years of experience. They don’t have time to train you. Some major markets will have special programs for graduates.

1:42 p.m.: You should graduate with a minimum of seven to twelve pieces to put on your reel. Right now, you work for yourself. All classroom pieces should be something you can put on a reel. Think about you and what you need and want. Work hard for yourself before you work for others. Diversify your skill set as much as possible. Cast a wide net. Show employers you can be used in many different ways and have an interest in many different things. For exmaple, in journalism, you have to be able to write well. Anyway you can fine tune that skill and gain other experiences is invaluable (i.e. advertising copy writing, PSA writing, writing for nonprofits, press releases, etc.).

1:45 p.m.: Helping nonprofits help you make contacts with major media outlets and gets your writing in front of them through press releases. It shows you are dedicated to the craft and not as concerned about money.

1:47 p.m.: Keep track of the companies you’re applying to. There is nothing more frustrating for an employer than calling someone and needing to remind them what you sent. Keep track of where you applied to, what you sent, the date you sent it and who you addressed it to. If it’s been a couple of months and you haven’t heard anything, email or write and ask for feedback about how to improve your materials.

1:48 p.m.: After the interview, write a “thank you” note in ink and send it to the person who interviewed you. Remind them of who you are. If you’re the first of seven interviews and the thank you note arrives two days later, you’ve now reminded the employer of who you are and you’ve reset yourself in their mind. Now they’re comparing you to the other people. The bulk of people who get interviews will not send a thank you note. THAT’S how you set yourself apart. Make sure the employer knows and remembers you.

1:50 p.m.: Get the name of the employer right! Address it to a person not “to whom it may concern.” Spell the names right. Take a second and eliminate all typos.

1:51 p.m.: How many cameras are in this room? You cannot go anywhere in America and be safe from a lens. Frequently, it is going to be your ex-best friend who will post embarrassing photos. Social hour, everyone standing around having a drink. Put the bottle or glass behind you if you see a camera. Do not hold up the drink and pose. Think about how the photo will look later to an employer.

1:54 p.m.: Don’t think that because you’re about to graduate that you’re safe. Colleges can withhold granting a degree if you’re going to be a blemish for the school. Be careful what you post. Companies like CNN have a very strict social media policy. Don’t bash any companies, politicians, etc. Keep your opinions to yourself if you want to work in media. The only thing news is selling is credibility. Go that extra step and don’t damage credibility with social media. You can let your personality show as long as it isn’t showing favoritism to a social or political issue, company, etc.

1:56 p.m.: No swearing. Don’t be offensive. Employ a thirty-minute rule before posting. No knee-jerk reactions. Post without negatively responding. Don’t trust privacy settings. How much do you trust Mark Zuckerberg to keep things private. Also, with privacy, sometimes no visible presence at all is worse. Employers want to see what your posting style is like.

1:58 p.m.: Grades don’t matter. A 4.0 average tells employers you know how to study and take tests well. What they want to know is can you apply what you’ve learned to real-world situations. Employers don’t want to teach. Ironically, the C or D students are often the best hires because they spent more time “playing with the toys” than cramming for the exam. Employers almost never look at transcripts. Unless, for example, you took classes that directly apply to the job you’re applying for. Too often 4.0 shows that’s all you did. Employers want well-rounded people with social skills, not pure academics.

2:00 p.m.: Getting certifications or attending certain seminars are important to list. It shows you’ve had some practical education.

2:04 p.m.: Don’t get attention in the wrong way. No neon paper or scented resumes. Don’t mention you’ve checked employers online. Don’t tell employers you’re Facebook-stalking them back. That’s a great way to freak out your potential employers. Don’t be weird. Don’t do strange things to get attention. Don’t include glitter or confetti. It doesn’t make a good impression; it makes a mess.

2:07 p.m.: Prestigious schools don’t necessarily make a difference. For instance, UGA mainly groom students to go on to their Master’s program. Compared to a program like Valdosta where they gain experience with gear and student media, UGA doesn’t stack up. It matters if you gain experience as an undergrad. You should have at least two years of experience in your medium in some way: be it from internships or student media.

2:08 p.m.: Study abroad doesn’t make a difference unless it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you’re applying for an anchor job in Atlanta, it doesn’t matter if you studied for a semester in Poland. However, if you’re applying for an international reporting bear, it will set you apart if you reported in Italy. It all depends on the job you are applying for and how you present you past experiences. Definitely include it on your resume. But don’t assume that alone will get you a job.

2:10 p.m.: Activities you did in college are important to include. It shows you did more than just go to class. You should re-stack your resume for each job you apply for. Put on top the experience relevant to the job you’re applying for. On the bottom include your part-time jobs and volunteer activities. It shows you know how to do basic skills and tried to improve your financial situation in college.

2:13 p.m.: Be careful what you list. List relevant skills. Don’t include things like Hotmail, G-mail and Windows 7. It’s implied you know how to use the operating systems. Don’t say you can use software you don’t know how to use. Don’t say competent when you mean familiar. Competent implies you can be turned loose. Familiar implies you’ve used it but may require some refreshing. Don’t list things like typing skills.

2:14 p.m.: Don’t be overqualified with a Master’s degree. If you are applying to be a board op, a Master’s will tell an employer you’re overqualified, will be bored to tears and that they may not be able to afford you. But if you want to be an entry-level producer, a Master’s may be a selling point.

2:17 p.m.: Always be prepared to talk about your goals and hopeful career path. It’s okay to be ambitious. But don’t come across as cut-throat. Set ambition into a realistic perspective. Especially in that first job interview, say you want to apply what you’ve learned to help the organization, learn more and gain experience. Tell them your goal is to give them what they need.

2:18 p.m.: Maybe don’t put your education at the top of your resume. Weigh what an employer may want to see. If getting a college degree is the best thing you’ve done, put it at the top. If it’s not, put student media and other relevant experience at the top. Get rid of the line objective. That is the most wasted line on a resume. Use that space to talk about your experience.

2:21 p.m.: Put only years you’ve been employed. Leave out months and days. That way, you save space and cover up employment gaps. Do not go beyond one page for a resume. Stick to one page. Find ways to break down what you’ve done into bullet points. Don’t use Microsoft Word’s format for resumes. Push out automatic formatting. Complete sentences have no place at all in a resume. Things that go all the way across the page have no place. Leave some open space to give the employer’s eyes a chance to rest. You don’t want the page to appear too busy. Give a lot of balance so there is open space for the eyes to rest.

2:23 p.m.: As a leader, the best way to show you made improvements is to show it in bullets on the resume. Example: President of TWE, increased membership by 75%. Leave off high school experience once you’ve been to college. Once you get the Master’s you delete the BA, unless it’s in a different discipline. If you move up in a social organization, don’t list subordinate positions you’ve held. If you’re president, it doesn’t matter if you were secretary or treasurer.

2:26 p.m.: Full paragraph standard business letter is the way to format a cover letter. No bullets. No abbreviations.

2:27 p.m.: Every employer prefers a different method for delivering your reel, from online to DVD to flash drive. Usually, there will be a clue in the ad as to what medium they prefer. If it’s audio, use a .wav format. For text, PDF. For video, include it in several different formats. Include a table of contents if using a USB drive or data disc. Label it with your name and permanent contact information, as you may go into a future file. Make sure the first clip they see is the most impressive. You have 10 to 15 seconds to make an impression. After that, they discard and move on if they’re unimpressed.

2:31 p.m.: If you are General Manager now, you show other positions you’ve climbed along the way. That’s showing professional experience. If you were News Director, a newscast producer, director and a reporter, include all of those and describe each with your term indicated next to the position. Show as much professional experience as you can. Professional ladder-climbing is different from clubs and other organizations.

2:34 p.m.: Dress professionally, be on time, give a solid handshake and make good eye contact. Be confident when talking about your abilities and projects. Do mock interviews with friends and family to make sure you’re not stumbling over questions. Know you past experiences backwards and forwards to be able to answer questions about what you’ve done.

2:36 p.m.: What sets you apart is taking advantage of opportunities you have in college. If there’s student media: do it. If you get a great interview opportunity: do it. Never say no. The wider your interests and the broader your skills and experience, the far better off you are. Random chances are really important. Some bigger opportunity almost always comes from something smaller you’ve done in the past.

2:39 p.m.: Don’t be afraid to pack up and move. Don’t limit yourself to one region. Be open to taking that first job wherever you may find it. Never say no to an opportunity based on location. You can always get back to where you want be later. You can always go back to your friends. You won’t get once-in-a-lifetime opportunity every day.

2:42 p.m.: Learn now how to work with people you can’t stand. You won’t get to pick who you play in the sandbox with. There are people who get paid $50,000 to schmooze. Find those people and get tips from them. That’s part of the industry – schmoozing and making people feel good about themselves. Be a valued member of “keeping the peace” in the office.

2:45 p.m.: If you’re looking to be a weekend anchor/reporter, send reporter packages and place them first in the reel. Then, show a clip of anchoring. In that situation, they don’t care about voiceover work. Exhibit skills that ties to the job you’re applying for. Don’t overwhelm employers with everything you’ve ever done in the reel. Assume they will check out things based on your resume.

2:47 p.m.: Interview do-not’s: 1. Don’t go in for weird cheek kissing – firm handshakes. Other than that no personal contact. Don’t get too close. 2. If you have tattoos that are visible in a short-sleeved shirt, cover them with a long-sleeved shirt. There are companies that will not allow tattoos. Any visible face tats, get them removed. Remove all piercings, except for ears. Tongue piercings are the most distracting in the world. In short, clean yourself up. Keep tattoos inside the clothing or small enough that they can be easily covered up. 3. Make sure you are answering the question that’s asked of you. Don’t go off on tangents. Pay attention to what question they’re asking. 4. When they ask you if you have any questions, ASK. Have a few in mind that don’t involve money. But don’t turn it into a lengthy Q&A. 5. Know facts about the company in case they ask. 6. Pause before you answer questions. Give yourself a chance to think. 7. Know you strengths and weaknesses so you can speak to that because you will be asked.

2:52 p.m.: Answering the weakness question: Focus on your skill set. Focus on the area you want to work on. Tell them what you want to become a master in. If you have aspirations, tell them your aspirations as the weakness. Tell them what you want to learn. Be genuine. Be honest – but not brutally honest. Don’t do the cliche “I work too hard” “I care too much” “I’m too dedicated.” It just makes you sound like an idiot.


This was a terrific session for students and new graduates. A lot of great advice appears above from current and former industry professionals who were doing the hiring. A lot of great resume, reel and interviewing tips here. This was a very valuable and worthwhile session.

Relevance to TV2 – A

Insight and Demystification – A

Innovative Ideas – A

Overall – A

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