The most classic job posting story goes back to the early 1980's, when videotape was replacing film. 3/4" tapes were expensive back then. One station was known for running bogus job ads when there were no openings. The reason? To build up a stock of videotape without having to pay for it. Tacky, huh?
Of course that doesn't make sense in the era of DVDs, but the mystery behind job postings continues. What are the rules, what do the postings actually mean, what does it mean when they disappear...and re-appear?
You can drive yourself nuts trying to figure this stuff out, and the big piece of advice here is...don't try to figure it out. Because there are no rules, and postings mean different things at different stations.
Postings fall into all sorts of categories, and I'll try to give you some of the more common ones:
-The job posting with an expiration date: The most common posting, and often reflects the rules of the corporation. For instance, the beancounters in charge may have dictated that jobs remain posted for two weeks. So let's say the job posting reads November 1-15. Does this mean you can't apply after November 15th? Of course not. Does it mean this particular station adheres to the hard and fast rules of the dates set forth by corporate? Maybe, but probably not. So send a tape.
-The blind ad job posting: Usually used by small markets in undesirable places to live, but sometimes by News Directors who are trying to avoid phone calls. So send a tape.
-The now-you-see-it, now-you-don't job posting. You've been watching one particular station and a job that you've applied for. Then, one day, the posting disappears. Does this mean the position has been filled? Maybe, maybe not. In many cases postings have expiration dates. Sometimes the ND has gotten enough tapes and pulls the post. Sometimes the budget changes and the job no longer exists. Sometimes a secretary screws up and deletes it by mistake. So send a tape.
-The I-sent-a-tape, the-posting-disappeared, then-came-back job post. So you're thinking, "Okay, I sent a tape, they didn't like it (or anyone else's) so they re-posted the job." Again, not necessarily. Maybe corporate has a rule to keep the job posted until the new person starts the job. Maybe the ND is still looking. Maybe the secretary screwed up again. So send a tape.
-The posting for the job you applied for months ago. So, you sent a tape and didn't get the job in the spring. There's an opening in the fall and you don't send a tape because you figure, "I didn't get the job last time, why would they hire me now?" Hello, McFly! Every situation is different. Did it ever occur to you that maybe you came in second for that last job and might be the first choice this time around? Maybe they wanted a lifestyle reporter and you did hard news, but they want a hard news person this time. Maybe they needed a guy last time and now they need a gal. So send a tape.
-The posting requiring a ridiculous amount of experience for the market size. Do you really think News Directors in tiny markets get a lot of applicants with three years experience? If you're right out of college and have talent, you've got a good shot. So send a tape.
Get the picture? There's really no way to figure out what's behind every job posting.
So....wait for it.... send a tape!