Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer hiring timelines

This time of year, pink slips are flying fast and furious, as the May book can cause the guillotine to fall. All of a sudden the job boards are filled with openings. You send a tape, figuring you're a really good candidate.

And you hear nothing.

Let me explain why hiring is even slower during the summer than at other times during the year.

Imagine you're a News Director, you've just lost or fired a reporter. That reporter made $36,000 per year. So you post an ad and the tapes start flooding in. (Yes, it's a flood.)

Now, the next book is in November, so you have some time. You want your new person in place by October first at the latest, as you don't want to be short staffed for the next ratings period.

What? The ND isn't racing against other NDs to hire quickly and fill that opening?

While some NDs do hire quickly, here's what can happen in many cases. You simply have to do the math.

Okay, I'm the ND with an opening in June and I'm over budget, or I just need to save some money for November election coverage. I can hire a reporter right away, or I can wait till October first and save $12,000.

Remember, our reporter that left was making 36k, or $3,000 per month. Every month that position remains open is $3,000 the ND didn't have to spend. He can save it for later, or perhaps use it to sweeten the pot for the new reporter. He might fall in love with a reporter who needs 40k to move. That's four grand more than the last person made, but the ND has saved 12 thousand, so he's still eight large ahead.

Got it?

Other factors? Many NDs know that viewership is way down during the summer and don't want to expend resources when no one is watching. Though that might change this year due to a few factors: the recession is keeping people home, and the networks actually have some new scripted series on tap for the summer. Add that to some great summer shows on cable, and suddenly viewership isn't all that bad.

So if you get a call right away and then hear nothing for weeks, don't give up. If you don't hear anything for months, that doesn't mean you're out of the running. In many cases it is simply a matter of timing.

By the way, one added note. If you ever have a choice, it is great to have a contract that ends in September. That makes your timing just right to get hired for the November book.

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