Decoding applications: How to apply for jobs.

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!



Wanted a new job: Will your social media account help or hurt 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.