Getting the job.

There are few things more discouraging than applying for jobs in TV news. You’ve spent the last four years of your college career dreaming of this time. You’ve interned (you better have interned), you’ve watched the news religiously, you’ve practiced reading in front of the mirror. You’re ready to work.

The only real rule these days is that all the “rules” that existed, don’t apply anymore. When the “How To Get A Job In TV News” book was written, social media wasn’t prevalent. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. have changed the landscape of the job search. Today, I “know” people solely through Twitter. I stay connected to people from my internships through Facebook. My resume and demo was submitted (for both of my jobs so far) via e-mail. Things are much different now than they were even just five years ago, and they’ll continue to change.

There are no rules anymore, but there are some guidelines that may help you, the wide-eyed fresh graduate, navigate the vaguely-charted waters of getting a TV news job in 2012.

One mistake fresh grads often make (I made it), is we apply too early. I sent out dozens of DVDs and resumes months before graduation. I’m a planner. I’m futuristic. I was antsy to bypass my last few months of school and jump into my first job. When people asked me, “What are your plans after you graduate?”, I wanted to tell them about a job I’d secured. I’m no expert, but what I have noticed is that when my station has openings, we wanted to fill them yesterday. If you send in your materials, but haven’t graduated yet, you’re not what we’re looking for right now. This isn’t to say you won’t be thrown into a pile, to consider later; but whatever job you’re applying for during March is not the job you’ll be considered for after you graduate in May.

Another mistake, we apply places we don’t want to live. Bottom line, you work less than half of the day. You will have afternoons and/or evenings, and weekends in your new city. Don’t make it the last place you want to be. If you’re miserable in your personal life, you’ll be miserable at work, and it will seep into your work. You’ll become lazy, complacent, and spend half of your day sifting through job openings. Obviously, your first job will not be your final stop. But if you loathe the Midwest, don’t apply there. Yes, this job is a stepping stone; but if you treat your time there as a temporary inconvenience, you will be miserable. Apply in places you’d like to live, and enjoy your time there. Use this as an opportunity to experience something new, and soak it in. On the flip side, don’t limit your job search to just one region or state. Be open minded, and flexible. If you’re neither open minded, nor flexible, you should probably start looking for a new major. TV news isn’t for you.

Mistake number three is one I made at an internship, so I was able to course correct before it came time for my first job. However, since I’ve been working, we’ve had interns and job applicants who’ve made this same mistake as I did.

Q: Why do you want to get into TV news?

A: I want to be an anchor. I’d also love to host my own talk show.

WRONG ANSWER.  Here’s your new script: “I want to be a reporter.”

Most reporters want to be anchors. Granted, there are some reporters that love reporting, and would turn down an anchor job for a chance to be out in the field, but those reporters are extremely rare. Fact is, most reporters want to be anchors. They like to be seen, which is why they’ve chosen TV as opposed to radio; there’s nothing wrong with that. Chances are good that if you truly want to be an anchor, you’ll have an opportunity at some point, in some capacity during your career. Once you’ve secured a job, you’ll be able to fill in on a weekend, a holiday, or while an anchor takes maternity leave. If you’re good, you’ll be considered for an anchor role when a position opens up. Those opportunities are rare, but they do happen.  Be patient, be available, be willing to work the “bitch shifts” and you’ll get your shot. And don’t assume that because you anchored on Christmas, management automatically know you’re interested in the job. Fill out an internal application, and make it known to your boss that you would like to be considered for the vacant anchor job.

Lastly, don’t get discouraged. If you’re meant to work in TV, you’ll find work. If you’re willing to work (for CHEEEEEAAAAAAP!), willing to learn, and a fast learner you’ll find a job eventually. There are lots of burnt-out people in the business, and energetic, eager blood is always a nice change of pace.

So, get those DVDs burned, make sure your Facebook/Twitter accounts are future employer-friendly, and send out your stuff.

Good luck.

Oh, and please wear a suit during your job interview (sounds basic, but you’d be surprised….)


Kenny King is a morning anchor for ABC 6 News in the Rochester, Minn. market. He joined the ABC 6 News team in December 2011, following a stint at KSAX Eyewitness News in Alexandria, Minn.
Follow Kenny on Twitter:
Friend Kenny on Facebook:

Smart Alliances: Relationships that can make your career.

The old saying is especially true in newsrooms:  Guilt by association.  Your alliances are very important, not just for your current job, but for future networking opportunities as well.   That’s why we are providing a series of articles on building smart alliances.  We begin with an overall look at newsroom relationships, then will get more specific based on job description.

Before we begin, stop for a minute and think about your friend base.  In many cases with TV news journalists, it’s all people you work with.  Now think about how those friends in the business are perceived in the newsroom.  We are not saying you cannot be friends with the high maintenance anchor/reporter or temperamental producer/director/assignment editor.  But you do need to consider how much time you spend with your newsroom friends in front of other newsroom employees.  One question managers ask over and over when considering moving a person up internally for promotions is:  “Who are they friends with in the newsroom?”  Managers have a better clue than you might realize who the partiers are, who the gossips are and who keeps a nose to the ground and focuses on getting the job done.

The key to newsroom friends is, you can end up in direct competition for shifts.  People with different job descriptions can still impact how you are perceived in handling your own job.  In upcoming articles we will discuss how to align with people in the newsroom with different job descriptions to help you make the most of your job.  Now we are going to look at the kind of reputation you ideally want as a “friend” in the newsroom.

Ideally you want to either be or align yourself with one of three types of friends at work:  The Diffuser, The Cheerleader and The Funny Guy/Gal.   These people tend to draw positive attention to themselves and get plenty of results.  So let’s delve into each a little more.

The Diffuser is a type of peacemaker who has a solid backbone.  This is the person people look to weigh in when there’s a heated debate over content coverage.  This is also the person who tends to be friendly with all the different personality types in the newsroom.  If this isn’t you, this is the type of person you want to align yourself with.  Chances are the managers are eyeing this person for future promotions.

The Cheerleader puts a positive spin on crappy situations.  This person is not necessarily an ass kisser though.  You will hear cheerleaders complain about a decision or issue, then put a positive spin like:  “I really hate being put on overnights, it really hurts my family life, but at least I have a job.”   This person is usually very good at handling office politics and because he/she is considered a positive person, managers may consult with him/her on and off before making certain decisions impacting a specific shift or group.

The Funny Guy/Gal is really good at lightening the mood.  Even if he/she can be sarcastic, management usually considers the person harmless.  Like a class clown, one of these is expected in a newsroom and most of the time, everyone appreciates the chance to laugh.

Now a closer look at the type of reputation you want to have.  You want to be seen as someone who shoots straight, doesn’t stir the pot and is fair.  This not only helps get management’s attention, it also helps you weigh through the inevitable personal battles waging in newsrooms over shifts, who is backstabbing who, and whether people are more loyal to the bosses than coworkers.  Keep these characteristics in mind when choosing your smart alliances at work.