Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Home for the holidays? Lay some groundwork

This time of year you may be preoccupied with sweeps, but many of you are looking forward to going home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah. And if you're one of those people who dreams of working in his or her home town, there's a valuable job hunting opportunity you can tack on to your vacation.

While most stations don't do any hiring during the holidays, that doesn't mean they aren't on the lookout for talent. And the days after Thanksgiving until the new year offer the most relaxed atmosphere in a newsroom you'll ever find.

So, if you're heading home soon, now is the time to set up a station visit. Doesn't matter if the station has any openings, your object here is to let them know who you are and drop off a tape.

To start, get a list of the stations back home you'd like to work for. Then compose a letter. Let's say you're from Chicago. It might sound something like this:

Dear ND,

It's always been my dream to work in my hometown of Chicago. Right now I'm working in East Podunk, where I've been doing general assignment reporting and filling in on the anchor desk.

I'm coming home the week before Christmas to visit my parents and would like to bring you a tape and introduce myself.

I realize your time is very valuable, but is there a time I might drop by for a few minutes while I'm home?

Something like that is professional but casual. You're not hammering the ND for a job, just asking for five minutes to shake hands and say hello.

Managers are pretty relaxed this time of year, and more receptive to this kind of stuff than they are at other times.

So take a shot, as you have nothing to lose. You may not get hired, but if they like you they'll keep you in mind. And that's the whole point.

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