Thursday, February 18, 2010

How NOT to get a job

Everybody knows that in this job market, you have to stay competitive.

Recently, several members of the newsroom attended a broadcast seminar with various workshops that helped us get ideas and tools to better ourselves. The day ended with a workshop on How Not to Get a Job.

We all sat in the back of the classroom. Don't judge us. All of us except for Hope, who took the notes that helped me write this blog. Yup, she's a note-taking, front row kind of girl.

Here are 10 tips on how to (and how NOT to) land the job you want. It's written for people looking for jobs in the broadcast industry, but these really apply to people in many professional fields.

Write a custom cover letter. Using a template shows lack of creativity, and it can often lead to an error if you forgot to fill in the blank somewhere. I suppose here we should talk about SPELLING the hiring manager's name correctly! During his last semester of college, my husband accidentally added an extra letter to a news director's last name, and she told him that she very well may have considered him for the job... if it weren't for that dang T.

Use a professional e-mail address. I'm glad this was included in the workshop. What boss wants to see an email from is probably not that hard to claim. And don't send an email from your current work address! They don't want someone who obviously uses company time and resources to look for a different job.

Follow instructions in the ad. If it says no calls, don't call. However, if you are applying for a reporter job, it could show that you're aggressive and a go-getter. The panelists seemed split on this one. It's always a good idea to get in contact with someone who works at the station/company to find out what the boss is like and what they will and will not tolerate from candidates.

Be honest about who you are and what you can do. I'll be up-front with an employer and tell them what my challenges are and what I'd have to work on if I were ever asked to move into a different position. (Like how I worded that? Challenges? I'm good.) Also, you could ruin your reputation if you fib in the interview about your strengths and fail to deliver in the job.

Be careful about what you say, and know your audience. I don't know about your business, but this one we're in is TINY. There are probably only 2-3 degrees of separation in the local news business, and you never know what will get repeated or compared among former (or future) colleagues. And joke cracking might not be a good idea, especially if you're prone to sarcasm like me.

No gimmicks, no gifts. Translation: confetti=bad. While I totally agree with this one, I did include a fortune cookie message with a cover letter one time. I got the job. Maybe in spite of my gimmick. I should ask about that. (I just asked, and my old boss said he thought it was odd. And then he made a comment about my hiring date being one of the darker days in station history. See "know your audience" above.)

Google yourself! Hm... I hope I don't have any spelling errors in this blog. Anyway, assume news directors will do their own research. The first step could be to privatize your Facebook. Sometimes my husband (the cute guy in the glasses) will add a potential candidate as his Facebook friend to see what they are like and who they know in common. So even if you do have it set to private, be ready to have it seen. Also, if you have your very first experience in front of the camera posted on YouTube, take it down! How is anyone supposed to know whether or not you've improved since then?

Dress like a professional and dress appropriately for the job you’re applying for. 'Nuff said.

Do NOT trash current or former employers. A few of us took an interview candidate to lunch last year and she complained about her old job the whole time. I was slightly tempted to egg her on just to see how unprofessional she would get, but that would not have been gracious. She did not get the job. If you're mindful of your words, you can spin your experiences in a positive way, even if you are coming from the worst job in the world. And some of you probably are.

Ask good questions in your interview. You are interviewing the company, too! Come prepared. Have a list of questions on paper. It makes you look like you're more engaged and more eager to get started.

Any more questions? I've gone through the job search process in this business four times, and I'm married to the guy who does the hiring, so I can probably help you out. Just comment, or email sweetcheeks@... Just kidding.


  1. so, in the picture above, why do all 4 arrows on the front row point to each woman's breasts?

  2. it would be a great picture if no guys were in it.