A number of people have asked me if there is a right way and a wrong way to apply for the job. I can’t speak for everyone, but there are a few universal truths you should know. Among them:
- Be clear: Don’t make me have to read six paragraphs to find out why you’re applying. I’ve received several cover letters that fail to mention the position at all.
- Be brief: Your cover letter shouldn’t be long at all. Let me know who you are, what you’re applying for, and what makes you the ideal candidate for the job. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. If I’m interested, I’ll move on to the resume and your DVD.
- Include no more than three references: If you’ve done your research and have a common contact, list him or her. I generally call people I trust for references. I may even call your competitor.
- Don’t show up without making an appointment: I absolutely hate it when people show up without making an appointment. I can’t drop everything to meet with someone I don’t know.
- If you’re invited for an interview, prepare to meet with several people: I want to see how you’d fit into our newsroom culture.
- Avoid gimmicks: I’ve received gift-wrapped DVDs, chocolate, and 8X10 glossies of various candidates. No one who has done this has been taken seriously by me.
- Do your homework: What is my station’s philosophy? What can you do to help move us forward?
- Spell-check: Need I say more?
- Leave negativity at the door: I don’t want to hear negative things about your past employers. Terminations happen for various reasons. I don’t hold them against anyone unless the person has demonstrated a pattern of unethical or criminal behavior.
- Be candid: Be honest about your shortcomings and strengths. In general, if you’re invited in for an interview, I’ve done my homework and know what your strengths and weaknesses are. I want to see what you’ve learned.
Remember, this business is a journey. Some of it will be wonderful, other parts of it will be bumpy. After 20 years, I’ve basically seen and been part of it all. I’m looking for passionate, energetic, and positive people. If I hire you, I want you to be part of my family. Family members never let each other down. Demonstrate to me that you won’t let me down – deliver on your promise – and you’ll be in forever (even when you ultimately move on to greener pastures).