A Step-By-Step Guide To
Properly Applying For TV News Jobs

A Step-By-Step Guide
To Properly Applying
For TV News Jobs

Written by Soul Witness
🕒 January 16, 2019

Okay, so you came across the perfect job online.

You filled out the information on the online application, sent your resume reel in… and now you wait. And wait. And wait.

You might be thinking, ‘Why didn’t I get a call for a preliminary interview, or heck, even a rejection letter?!’ Well, I’ll tell you…and I’ll be real.

So let’s start with all that information you filled in. The online application process can be a lengthy one, but, if you do it properly, it might just give you a jump on the hundreds of other applicants.

You’d be surprised at how many people take “the basics” for granted. I’m talking about your name, email address and phone number. Make sure you’ve filled in those blanks correctly.

Things like putting your first-name last or your last-name first is one common mistake. It may seem like a mistake that someone could just “get over”, but it really shows that you aren’t paying attention to detail or following simple tasks.

Always fill in your contact information, even if it asks for it three times. Don’t just assume that whoever is reviewing your application will watch your reel or take the time to track you down.

When it comes to the trickier questions, like how much money you’re expecting, be realistic.

Part of the burden that falls on your shoulders is researching the market and station you’re applying to. If you’re just out of college, don’t expect to make $80,000 a year.

The average starting salary for a reporter or MMJ/MSJ, in a starter market, is around $26,000 a year. For anchors, it’s between $28,000 and $30,000 a year. It takes several years, and several market moves, to make a decent amount of money.

If you fill in the “expected salary” blank with an astronomical number, or one that just doesn’t fit the market, that could lead to an automatic disqualification. Don’t lowball yourself, but be reasonable at the same time.

Make sure the link to your reel, or website, works. This is another common error that leads to frustration, and will quickly get you an “I’ll pass” from someone looking over your application.

A safe bet is to include multiple links, if that’s an option. One to your website (if you have one), then one that goes directly to your reel. I wouldn’t recommend a Dropbox or sharing a link to some sort of site that you must log in to see your content.

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Put your reel on YouTube or another recognizable, easily accessible video sharing website.

When it comes to the reel itself, you can put your contact information with a headshot at the beginning; but I’d suggest not having it last longer than about three seconds. They can always pause the video to get that information, and you can also put it at the end of your reel. Go ahead and get right to your best work, and hold their attention.

They want to see action packed stuff, creativity, and YOU. If you’re applying for an on-air position, make sure your reel has you in it. If you’re a student and your school has a newscast, but you didn’t get much, or any, time in front of the camera, cover something else and create your own content. This requires extra work, but it will be worth it.

Basically, if you want to be on-air, you need to be seen on camera. As far as the creativity, and action-packed content, sometimes this can be difficult; especially if you’re a student, or you’re currently at a small-town station. But don’t be discouraged. This is where you can thrive on showing your creativity.

How can you cover that city council meeting in a way that no one has done before? How can you turn a stand-up for a “boring” story into TV gold? How can you make this live shot that you’re doing all by yourself “cool” and interactive? If you can answer those questions and pull it off on camera, put it on your reel. Those are the things they want to see.

Extra tip: DON’T DO THE ANCHOR VOICE! The purpose of a reel is to showcase your best work and your personality. Your natural self. Don’t feel like you have to change your voice into the canned, stereotypical, as-seen-on-TV anchor voice.

Granted if you have a strong accent (like I do) yes, you may want to tone it down a little, but don’t change you. The main goal: be professional on camera.

You can be professional, and still have a personality at the same time.

Okay, your application is sent off with everything done correctly. Your reel is great, the link works, now what….. Time to clean up your act! Let me explain.

Your future employers WILL stalk you on social media. They will find you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, they’ll Google you, all of it. Even if all of your settings are set to extremely private…they’ll still find you. Trust me.

So you just share memes that make fun of something or make jokes at a politician, you’ve only ranted about your current boss one time, you really don’t curse that much, it’s all harmless. Right? Wrong. All of that will be taken into consideration.

Even photos you post while you’re on vacation. If you look like a “party animal,” your future bosses will take note of that. You’re in the real world, the grown-up world now. This is your career. You will be representing a company. A very public company.

If you’re hired, you will be recognized out in the public, and people will search for you on social media just like your future employers are now. We all know the power of social media. It can make or break someone. Don’t let it break your chances of being hired. Keep it clean, keep it professional, keep it unbiased.

Now that the stalking is completed, it’s time to call your references.

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You included at least three on your resume, right? Great! They will be getting a call from your future employers. Of course you want to pick people who will sing your praises, but don’t include any family members or friends.

They want to see your past managers, professors, someone you’ve worked closely with, but isn’t your BFF. For example, I have one of my former News Directors, a Marketing Director with an organization I’ve worked extensively with for years, and a high-ranking law enforcement official with a statewide agency. Side note: Make sure all of your references have given consent to be your reference.

Congratulations! You’ve done everything on this list. Only one thing left! Reach out. Email the News Director, or Assistant News Director, at the station you’re applying to, or give them a call.

Let them know you’ve applied, and you’re excited and looking forward to hearing from them in the near future. Thank them for their time and for considering you as a great fit for the news team. Don’t feel like you’re being annoying if you do this. Little things like this can make you stand out.

If you don’t hear back immediately, don’t worry. The hiring process can sometimes take months.

Check in with them every couple of weeks via email. Tell them you’re still very interested in the position, and ask if they need anything else on your end.

If you have an updated reel, or a package that you’re proud of, send that to them…. then wait. It can be the toughest part, but whatever happens, happens for a reason.

Let’s say you hear back, but it’s not the answer you wanted. It’s okay. Rejection happens to all of us, and it happens many times. Don’t get discouraged. Send them a follow up email, and thank them for their time again.

Also ask what you could do to improve, and/or why you weren’t chosen for the position at this time. This will show you not only want to get better, but you can handle rejection as well.

Just by sending that follow up email, you’re proving you’re in this for the long haul, and, yet again, making yourself stand out among your competitors.

Best of luck! It’s a tough business, but you’re strong and resilient and you will get the right job at the right time!

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