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.

Job Hunting Bill Of Rights

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Feb 052015

Job hunting journalists need to know that they have the right to ask for information during interviews to determine whether the station/job is right for them. I say this because lately I am hearing about some rather interesting station and company policies that are counter to this concept.

So here’s a bill of rights job candidates should keep on hand. If these things do not happen during the interview process, walk away.

Job Hunting Bill Of Rights:

You have the right to be flown/brought in for an interview
You have the right to reimbursement for cab fares/lodging/gas during the interview
You have the right to entertain many job opportunities
You have a right to meet staff you will be working with
You have a right to make a counter offer

Let’s start at the beginning. How can you decide if you want a job, if the station is unwilling to bring you in to see the station and meet potential co-workers? One large broadcasting company with plenty of cash, has decided that stations should not routinely fly candidates in. One of its stations even gets crappy about paying for gas reimbursement if a candidate drives to the station. This is simply unacceptable. If they care so little about making sure you see what the company is about, why invest your time, passion for news and career with such a group? Pass.

Station/company: If you tell a candidate they will have to pay upfront for cab fare, hotel rooms and or gas during the interview, then reimburse the expense right away. Ask the candidate to collect their receipts and provide them during the interview. Then as they leave, hand over a check or at least get one in the mail within 10 days of the interview. It is just common courtesy to not spend someone else’s money. Remember these candidates can go elsewhere, including the station across the street that is already kicking your a*s! That 30 dollar cab fare you screwed the person on, can and will become the stuff of urban legend in networking circles. Don’t be cheap. Choose classy. Job Candidate: If you are stuck with the bill and no reimbursement, do not be embarrassed about hounding the station’s human resources department for the cash. You are in the right!

Another station, in a top 5 market, has decided to require candidates to “commit” before the interview process is completed. When I say before, I’m talking before even being flown in to see the place. This is a huge sign that you need to just pass. If a station bullies before you even get in the door, the treatment will only become worse once you are there. This station wants to prevent candidates from entertaining several job opportunities. In fact the ND even has been known to threaten candidates who say they are looking at several options, mentioning that “it’s a small biz” and “strings can be pulled.” Years ago another group tried to pull something similar on friends of mine. Job candidates: Never fear a scenario where stations have to vie for your services. If they are not even willing to try to woo, you need to say bye-bye.

You have a right to meet the staff you will be working with. Let’s say you interviewed to work nightside, then you get a call with an offer for dayside. Problem is you did not meet a single dayside staffer. Say that you are flattered, and ask that some of those staff members call you. Also if you are flown in for an interview on a weekend for a weekday gig, it is not unreasonable to expect that at least the manager you would work with, shows up for the interview. Again, I emphasize, this is what you should expect, AT THE LEAST. It is crucial that you are able to relate well with your co-workers. News requires too many long work hours, and too many pressure cooker situations to work around people with whom you do not relate. Team cohesiveness is crucial. Demand to get access and see if it’s a group with whom you want to be aligned.

Lastly, you have a right to counter offer. Many stations are getting better about coming to the table with the top money they can give. Many more intentionally go lower to see how little they can spend to get you in the door. This part of job hunting can be a real game and candidates often feel they just cannot ask for more. Ask! If you don’t get the most you can, coming in the door, you will never get much once you are there. Even if the deal sounds great, ask for more. Make sure the station is doing the most it can to show it values you, the position and the impact you will have. Don’t sell yourself short. If you are not confident in yourself, no one else will be confident in you either. Make a counter offer even if the ND says the initial offer is the best they can do. You have to call the potential bluff. Managers expect to negotiate.

Now that you have a job hunting bill of rights, hold stations and broadcasting companies to them. Each time each you do you not only improve things for yourself, but you help pave the way for everyone else. This is a crucial time to make sure broadcasting companies remember who is the most important in their newsrooms. It’s the people busting it every day. And it all begins with your first impression. Be strong!

When Job Hunting Tactics Go Horribly Wrong. Strange But True Stories.

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Aug 192013

Sometimes, the best way to describe how to do something, is to show the opposite.  Here are some examples of ways, real, aspiring journalists have really shot themselves in the proverbial foot when job hunting.  We are poking some fun, but please know it is to help prevent more of these scenarios.

One ND I worked for describes getting a pizza box from a young reporter wanting a gig.  Inside the box was a tape, resume and cover letter saying the reporter knew how to “deliver” on a story.  The trouble was, the call letters for the station were wrong on the letter and the reporter misspelled the manager’s name.  This ND’s quote, “so much for delivery.”

Many ND’s and AND’s love to share stories about the “idiots” who get their names wrong.  I mean, they get the names VERY wrong, then are put off and send fiery emails when the ND doesn’t give them an interview.

Speaking of fiery responses, I once had an anchor candidate call and bless me out (I was  an EP) because my station never called to interview him.  One of my producers told me about him and I agreed only to hand the ND the anchor’s information.  This anchor then thought he had an “in” with me and kept calling asking for status updates.  When he read that we hired someone else, he called and told me what a crap station we were and that we all sucked.  Yes, I still remember.  And, no, I will never help you again.

Then there’s the reporter who sent a manager I know a resume and reel and actually put checkboxes at the end of the email, so the manager could check if he was interested or not, right then and there.  His question, why wasn’t there a “could have been, had you not done this” option?

My last interesting scenario, a reporter who sent a long email explaining why a station’s decision not to hire them was a horrible mistake.  This was like a manifesto.  You would be surprised how many managers get emails like this, where the person has to justify to you that you are messed up, that the person knows he/she is wonderful at their profession.  Just remember email, like the internet, never truly disappears.

Oh and keep in mind, if you cannot get a manager’s name and the station’s call letters right, you will not get a call back, no matter how “brilliant” you are. Strange, but true!

 

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.

The one thing you should ask about in a job interview, but probably don’t

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Oct 032012

We have talked a lot about ways to feel out a station when job interviewing.  We have discussed not judging a place by its market size.  Now let’s talk about the one thing you should ask about in a job interview, but probably don’t.  It is: How does your boss juggle work and family life (and what does he/she do to promote family life for employees)?

Stations continue cutting back on resources and many are chronically short staffed because of budget cuts and the constant threat of layoffs.  So, this may seem like a crazy question to ask in a job interview.  It’s not though.  The reason:  You have to be able to balance your life wherever you end up.  If you have a workaholic, eat three meals a day at the office desk, sleep on a cot when necessary kind of boss, then you can pretty much kiss quality family time goodbye.  If the boss doesn’t get it, you don’t get it either.

Of course all of us understand that TV news is far from a 9 to 5, punch in and out, kind of job.  (If you don’t you are going to be very frustrated!)  Still, some managers take gross advantage of salaried status and work us to death.  Often it isn’t even because of short staffing.  It is simply poor organization.  If you read through our section “Picking a Shop” you will see this is a big theme.  Poor organization, means poor management, means premature greying and a possible heart attack or bleeding ulcer for you.

Sitting in a job interview and asking a potential mentor how he/she manages to juggle work and family is a fair question.  You are getting advice.  You are also getting great insight into how this manager ticks.  Is this a person who will be reasonable when a life crisis happens?  Is this a person who will consider a crews safety during dangerous stories, like natural disasters?  The simple, “How do you juggle family/work?” question helps you naturally delve into these types of scenarios.  You will get great intel on your potential future boss.

If family is very important to you, it is best to be upfront about that from the get go.  If this is a run and gun, take no prisoners, work until you drop type station then you are going to be miserable.  It is possible to balance family life and be a successful highly productive journalist.  It requires organization.  And not just from you either.  Team effort is crucial.  You are not being selfish wanting to protect your family life.  You are maintaining a balance, so you can excel while at your job, because you know your family is fine at home.  A lot of managers get this, but even more need to be reminded.  Small rewards, like occasionally letting you head home early when your work is done, lead to big gains.  When the breaker happens on your day off, you are going to be more apt to call in and offer to help.  Managers, who respect you, get respect and extra effort in return.  It’s only natural.   So, go ahead, ask the question.  Your personal success is at stake.

 

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