Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mailbag: The cluegun for McFly

This is more of a question than a comment...Hopefully you can help me figure my little resume tape issue out. I graduated about 9 months ago and thought I shouldn't go into reporting because all I ever heard was how impossible it was...Well I tried the 9-5 job thing and it's not working out for me. I wanna be a reporter! I have a bunch of dv tapes filled with my college stories and about 8 standups I did - fake ones that I planned to use for my montage. Well, there not that great. There not bad either. Should I even bother making my resume tape with the footage I have or should I buy a camcorder and start over? Also, I have a pretty good story about something we called "second hand porn" in my town. A local issue about libraries allowing people to go to porn sites. Would that be inappropriate to put on my resume tape, as the first story even?

So let me get this straight... you spend four years in college and God knows how much of your parents money so that you can do something you really want to do... and then at the age of 22 you give up because you hear it might be tough?

Cluegun, locked and loaded! Bada bing!

Listen, grasshopper, I don't know if you're one of those kids who has been coddled by your parents, but welcome to the real world. Guess what, you don't get a ribbon for participating and told how wonderful you are. We're playing for keeps here. If you want something, you've gotta fight for it.

And you don't give up your dream less than a year out of college because people tell you it's impossible.

Okay, enough of the sarcastic lecture, because it is really aimed at the people who have drilled the notion into young people that you can't get in this business or you have to start at the very bottom in market 210. I'm to the point that I may as well tape my phone conversations with new clients because I have the same speech for every single one of them who honestly believe that market 50 is some sort of utopia and that getting a job in this business is harder than getting elected President.

Some things you need to know:

-Getting a first job is easier than ever. Huh? Grape, have you gone nuts? Have you read about the economy? Yep. And here's what many of you are missing. Employers are replacing expensive people (my generation) with cheaper people (can you guess which generation I'm talking about?) Markets that used to require bushels of experience are now open to kids with limited experience. Potential, in fact, is often more important than experience. Are there a lot of job openings? No. But it is so much easier for a young person to crack a big market than it used to be.

-A fifty market is nothing special. Some are good, some are horrible. Many feature entry level people. My first reporting job was in market 62, and that was a long time ago. I've had clients under 24 crack top 30 markets, so please don't tell me it cannot be done. And we've all seen stories of people right out of college in top 10 markets. Ever hear of a guy named Geraldo Rivera? He started in New York. Take all the myths you've heard and throw them out the window, because the only thing that matters is your career, and it is mutually exclusive.

-You'll never get a great job if you don't apply for it. Yep, it's just like the Publishers Clearing House... you can't win if you don't enter. Send your tapes everywhere.

-Giving up your dream before you're 30 will leave you kicking yourself for the rest of your life. I'm sorry if the economy is bad, and the business is in a sorry state. But once again, it is the fault of my generation that has been so overprotective of children that when young people have to deal with the real world they give up so easily. If reporting is in your blood, if you burn to do it, then do it. And don't give up if it takes a while to get your first job.

Back to the original question: you've got tapes, you've got a decent package, so slap them together, make a resume tape and send the thing out. At your level you have no idea how good or bad your work is, so send it out. News Directors who hire young people for entry level jobs do so based on potential, and they know college tapes have a certain look. Bad video, bad lighting, whatever. Doesn't matter. They're looking for that spark, that flicker of talent, the gleam in the eye that tells them this kid could be something special.

Many young people have asked me if News Directors will "think bad of me if I send a tape that's not good enough." Hey, NDs don't remember the first thing about tapes they don't like. There are no "resume tape police" who send out notices that read, "Hey! Johhny Smith just sent out a bad resume tape!" Trust me, I've watched thousands of tapes and, except for those that were unbelieveably bizarre, I cannot remember a single one belonging to a person I didn't hire or consider for a job. Neither does any other ND.

But they're never gonna remember a good tape if you don't send it.

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