How Millennials Are Going To Change The Job Interview Process For The Better.

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Apr 262016

For the last 10 years or so the job interviewing process has largely gone downhill in many newsrooms. Many stations did little vetting. Many barely let candidates see much of the newsroom before being rushed out. If you asked a bunch of questions during an interview, you were labeled a potential trouble maker. More companies are not wanting to pay for plane tickets or meals. Some require the candidate to pay upfront for all these costs. And many would “tease” with one job description, then place the new hire in a different job once he/she arrived.

The thing is, most millennials are very aware of their wants and goals and less tolerant of being “played.” They are placing expectations on hiring managers and companies to be treated a certain way or they will just leave. And a signed contract doesn’t always matter. If the job is not what was promised in the new hire’s mind, they will find a way to go.

This is leading to interesting discussions on LinkedIn and in newsrooms all over. How do we stop these mindsets that you can just walk on a contract? How can you just decide the day before not to step on a plane for the interview you said would attend? These are complicated questions, with multifaceted answers. But there is a core area where the answers start to become clearer. Showing mutual respect.

In the last year alone, I have experienced where candidates were told to front all interview expenses, were brought in early to save the station money and left stranded in a hotel for a day with no means of transportation, and were told to figure out if they wanted a job site unseen. Some were screamed at on the phone after turning jobs down or asking follow up questions the manager did not deem necessary to answer. All though it may not seem like it right now, trust me, gone are the days that the hiring company calls all the shots. Here’s why. There were too many years where these millennials witnessed their parents and frankly their grandparents get screwed by companies. Respect is earned, and hiring managers do not start with a gold star. You have to earn it from the first conversation to the last. It is too easy now to network and find out who treats interviewees well, and who doesn’t.

Which leads to how millennials are going to change the interview process for the better. Many are demanding to know what the expectation is from the start. They want to work for management teams that can clearly define the requirements for the job that is open. They expect to see the station and meet their potential coworkers. They expect to be taken to lunch and told more about the community they are considering living in. They expect stations to have a plan to help them grow their skill sets so they can continue to become better at their craft. In fact, they want guarantees that they will have support and training opportunities. They also want it understood that they will not be hazed. This included during negotiations. If they want more money or benefits, they expect to be able to ask and be told why if the answer is no.

This is a group that is largely unafraid to raise issues to HR. And this is a group that is not afraid to say, “enough” if they feel they are being treated unfairly. That begins during the interview phase. If you won’t invest in a plane ticket or a meal while in town, this is a group that will say “pass.” Market size is not the only selling point anymore. I say this because a lot of the larger market stations are becoming the nastiest about interviewing. Calling a prospective candidate and telling them everything that sucks about their resume to try and see what kind of moxie the person has is not smart. Frankly, the old school intimidation tactics many news directors still lean on, are back firing. These millennials are demanding open communication from the get go. Don’t play games. Say what you want. Say why you want it. If you have a concern about a candidate’s experience level, say so right away and talk it out. More mid market managers are starting to realize that they need to take the time and create more detailed vetting for the interview process to make sure all parties understand expectations. They know they must be clear from the get go. That’s because more interviewees are making it clear that accountability is expected from both parties from the beginning. So managers if you rely on the statement “because I said so” it is time to move past that crutch. If you like seeing how a candidate handles intimidation during interviews, you are in for a hurting. This is a group that will say, “I pass on your game.” They value mutual respect more than almost anything else. They have goals and they will achieve them. Help, or get out of the way. And if you mistreat them, they will let others know not to bother to work for you.

Bottom line, loyalty is not given to stations and managers just because you made a job offer. It is earned each day. This is a group that is not afraid to stand up for what they consider fair treatment. This is not a group that expects to work at the same place their entire career. This group knows it will have to move just to survive. Putting down less ties, means taking away a lot of management’s power to bully. I recently had a management team beside themselves because a client turned a job down, in the person’s hometown. The station took that emotional tie for granted and frankly treated the candidate poorly during the interview process. This journalist is not unique in deciding that being treated with mutual respect is more important than job location. Many are saying “You can find the good in many places to live. Managers must prove they are worth you investing your time working there each day.”

So watch out TV news. Recruiting may be getting harder. Managers will need to be ready to wine and dine from the interview process and beyond, to keep from being labeled a place to avoid.

Hot And Cold: Why Are Job Interviews Taking So Long?

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Aug 082015

When I would tire of a station or the raise offered was below that of inflation, I always knew it would take about 3 weeks to move on. That was it. Ten or so resume reels, and three weeks.

But now, when I coach TV journalists on job searches, I have to tell them there will be a lot of hurry up and wait. Managers are going to seem hot and cold. And the process can easily last 4 to 6 weeks, from first interview to contract signing. The question is: Why?

Well, there are actually several reasons. The biggest is that a lot of managers have more day-to-day responsibilities than they used to. Making time to review resumes and call prospective new employees can be really hard. I have had many managers that do not call me until months after making an initial inquiry. The reason is always the same. “I got so bogged down.”

Next come temporary job freezes. The manager can have a short list and be ready to fly candidates in, only to get word they have to wait x amount of time to fill the position. And, yes, this can even include “critical need” producer positions where current staff is double showing, not getting days off etc. The term “critical need” varies a lot from one broadcasting company to the next.

Speaking of flying in candidates, more and more stations are being told by their parent companies that they are not allowed to pay for flights. Or, at most, they only get to fly in one candidate. This is going to mean a lot more phone conversations, Skype interviews and writing tests via email exchanges. So there are extra steps and more time is taken to get this all done.

Desire to get it right the first time is another reason job interviews are taking so long. Managers are less willing to just settle and hope on a hunch. They often have a hard time getting the money to bring people in and then are judged on the performance of their selections. So, they have to be really sure that next hire, is a good hire. This takes time.

Finally, because of staff cuts many are looking for more versatile candidates. Web gurus who can also shoot and edit. Producers who have SEO experience. These sorts of hybrids are in demand. News managers will hold out hoping for candidates like this, because they know the newsroom has to have all of these qualities. Want to speed up the hiring process? Build up your skill sets. The more versatile, the better your options. If you can’t be flexible, neither can many stations. So be prepared to hurry up and wait. And while you wait, take a class on how to create apps, or work on building your social media accounts. It can only make you more marketable.

Get Real: Key Interview Secret

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May 282014

Here’s some really interesting insight into what managers look for when interviewing you. They want to get to know YOU. They want to know why you do news, what your hobbies are and if you have ties to a particular area. They love to call me and talk about why they were drawn to a particular person when narrowing down their candidate pool for jobs.

Recently I was really struck by a news director’s comment about a potential producer. “( ) never got real with me. I heard canned answers. I want to know ( ).” I think we all forget this sometimes. ND’s want to hire someone they really like, believe in and want to be an advocate for. That requires making yourself a little vulnerable during an interview and giving a hiring manager a taste of what makes you tick. Think of it this way, that ND or AND will have a direct impact on your success or failure. If you two do not click and connect on a personal level to some degree, you could lose a key advocate.

Despite what many think, ND’s often take the fall for their employees (see “Taking Ownership” for an introduction into what that’s like) if they believe in the person. They will go to bat for you time and again. So when ND’s are interviewing you they are looking for someone they can mentor and help. ND’s really do love playing a role in helping someone launch their careers. Many think that part of leading a newsroom is helping the staff grow and make the most of themselves as journalists. They may not always be tactful. They may not always make it obvious. But most are trying to groom you and love bragging out your success later. So get real during job interviews. Say why you went into news. Say what you love most about your job. Explain your favorite types of stories and why. These answers might not only help you land a great new gig, they might also gain you an advocate throughout your career.

A couple of journalists emailed questions about job hunting recently.  Now that sweeps is over, the flood gates will open.

One area that many asked about is the actual application process.  Do you go through Human Resources?  Do you really need a cover letter?  Do you send an application by email, snail mail or both?  Are there any tricks to knowing how to fill out applications for jobs?

So let’s delve into these questions.  First, should you send an application to Human Resources.  Many companies require an application be filed in the corporate HR system before a news director is allowed to contact you.  So if you don’t apply through HR your application may never actually count.  So, fill out the paperwork online then email the ND a cover letter and resume stating that you have applied and are very interested in the specific job.

So the answer to whether you email or snail mail your application is a little of both.  Electronic is the way the corporate world works nowadays.  But it doesn’t hurt to follow up with a letter to an ND making sure the person is aware your application exists.

Do you need a cover letter?  Consider it an opportunity to really explain who you are as an employee.  Where else do you get to describe your work ethic, journalistic goals and strengths clearly?  A well written cover letter still impresses.  Just  make it more than, “Hi, I am so and so and I am applying for _____ job and can be reached at _____ number.”

When filling out applications, really watch for typos.  Keep in mind that many companies use programs to scan for keywords and weed out people without the required experience for a job.  Another good reason to go ahead and send a cover letter and resume.  You just never know.

Finally, as obvious as this may sound, make sure you spell the news director’s name correctly.  If you don’t, nothing else you say or do matters.  I’ve heard many ND’s talk about how often this happens.  A cover letter is sent with their name spelled wrong, a completely different name or the wrong call letters.  If you are sloppy, you will pay for it.

Hope this answers a lot of your questions.  Good luck in your search!

 

I have almost no doubt you have heard plenty of talk about the importance of being social media savvy, especially when job hunting.  But is your account truly ready for potential bosses “checking in?”  Now that I am also researching and in some cases recruiting journalists for jobs, I am finding that social media accounts are a gold mine of information.  A lot of it you may not even realize.  Until now.

What prospective employers are looking at.

  • Your personality
  • Who your friends are
  • Who your friends are not
  • Potential liabilities

Prospective bosses are reading your tweets, FB postings and any other social media sites they can find you on.  If they get your name or a resume reel, they immediately hop online to check you out.  Count on the fact that they will read what you say from then on, regularly.  So if you complain that all the other women in the newsroom hate you, make fun of viewers, or gripe about everything under the sun, you are sending a clear message that you are a pain in the a#! and hiring you should be avoided.  I am not saying that every tweet has to be sunshine and roses.  You can be real.  You just don’t want to come across as bitter, neurotic, high maintenance or just plain difficult.  That will hurt you immensely.  Also, do not make your twitter account your outlet for your hobby only.  This is really meant for major sports buffs.  If almost every tweet is about your favorite team, consistently over several weeks, you won’t be taken as seriously. (I am talking to news people here, not sporto’s.)  Potential bosses are looking for people who provide thought provoking conversations on a variety of subjects.  They are looking to see if you have the ability to network, and how you interact with your “audience.”

Also, you should be aware that potential employers cruise through your list of friends on your social media accounts.  They monitor which groups you hashtag with regularly on twitter.  The reasons are fascinating.  In some cases, they are checking to see if you are already a Twitter pal with people in their own newsroom.  Maybe you are buds with another reporter/producer/anchor candidate up for the same job.  It is a way to see if you have “friends” in common.  Then they know of ways to check you out, besides that reference list you provided.

They also check to see who you are not friends with.  Do you tweet with coworkers at all?  Do you seem to only talk to fellow Giants or 49er fans?  Do you have broad appeal or are you a one subject wonder surrounded by “followers” of the same thinking?  By reading your friends list, a manager can figure out a lot about how well you integrate with all types of people.

Finally, they look for potential liabilities.  Do you tell off the viewer that balls you out on your Twitter feed?  Do you talk about getting drunk last night?  Do you use the f-word or make crass comments. (Yes, this includes posts on any personal accounts.  Assume they will get access one way or another.)  A lot of GM’s and ND’s have interesting Twitter identities you would never guess, just so they can check on unsuspecting employees and/or potential hires.

Now that you know what potential employers are checking out, make sure you give them a clear look at all you have to offer.  Show off your personality, networking abilities and interaction with your viewers.  Your social media accounts, especially Twitter, are an easy way to really give insight into your worth.  Just focus on your strengths, and give yourself an edge over the competition.

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