I'm in the second year of my first job. I still have nine months left on my contract but really want to start looking. I have a list of stations targeted that I want to send tapes/resumes too but I'm very concerned about my contract status. Should I include a note on my resume saying *Under contract until (date)? I'm afraid this will scare anyone off from responding but I'm also concerned about turning any interest into frustration if I don't include my contract status. Any suggestions?
Excellent question. First, I'm glad you're starting to look this far out because as most of you have discovered, decisions aren't made quickly in this business. You should all start your searches at least six months out from the end of your contract.
As for your question, it is very important to let a ND know what your contract status is for several reasons. First and foremost, he's going to find out anyway if he's interested, so you might as well tell him up front. If you can't move for ten months, say so, because you don't want to frustrate a ND who has an immediate opening, makes a call, and then discovers you're not available right now.
That said, it doesn't "scare" any ND to know your contract status. It actually does the opposite and helps him plan for the future.
Suppose your tape wanders in and the ND really likes it. After watching the tape he reads your cover letter and discovers you're going to be available next June. He knows that he has two reporters whose contracts are also ending in June. Perhaps one is really talented and he knows that person will leave, while the other is someone he doesn't want to renew. So now he has a tape he really likes and someone with contract timing that matches his needs. (And timing is often everything in this business.)
I've run into people over the years who have tried to "hide" their contract status or flat out lie about not having a contract. Both scenarios cause problems.
The best thing to do is to be totally up front about everything. And put it in your cover letter; don't bury this little piece of information in your resume. The only thing that scares a News Director is dishonesty.