Tuesday, July 13, 2010

News Directors aren't the only ones who should be checking references

Any time you apply for a job, you're asked to provide a list of references. Most of the time a good News Director will spend some time on the phone, checking with these people. Since they are people who obviously like you, they'll be asked questions like, "What's his greatest strength....and biggest weakness?"

And sometimes a ND will dig a little deeper, calling former co-workers who aren't on your list. Many times managers get calls about people who worked for them two or three jobs ago.

Meanwhile, you're the job applicant. You've applied, had an interview, and your references are being checked. So all you can do is sit back and wait, right?

Wrong, McFly. If you're on the short list for a job and you're waiting for an offer, this is the perfect time to check references on your own. Specifically, you want to see what you can dig up on the News Director and the newsroom in general.

Since a ND is not going to give you a list of people to call, you'll have to put your reporting hat on and do a little research. Track down some people who have left recently (note I said "left" not "fired"... people who have been let go won't give you an objective review.) Then do some reference checking on your own.

Some questions to ask:

-What kind of person is the News Director? Is the ND a raving screamer, or one who acts like a normal human being?

-Is the newsroom run like a dictatorship, or is the ND open to story pitches?

-How does the company treat its employees?

-What's the newsroom atmosphere like? Is is filled with supportive people who are members of a team, or a bunch of knife-throwing backstabbers?

-Will you get feedback on your work, and not just hear something when you've done something wrong?

-Finally, ask the person, "Why did you leave?"

It's up to you to pull off the rose colored glasses when job hunting. Determine any potential problems before you're under contract and it's too late.

Actually, you don't have to wait until you get an interview before doing some homework. But whether you wait or not, you owe it to yourself to do the same kind of checking on the station as the station is doing on you.

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