Friday, November 26, 2010

Merry Christmas, here's your pink slip

Well, now that sweeps are over you're going to see a whole lot of movement in the job market. Already we're seeing a few News Directors have gotten the boot, and as the ratings come in for various markets, that trend will continue.

As for non-management openings, you'll see more of those as well, as we head into December. Usually anchors get more pink slips than reporters, as they are the "face" of the station... and if said station tanks in the ratings, the anchors are often held to be at fault.

Throw in the fact that many reporters have contracts that end after November sweeps and you've got an open job market. By the way, the fact that many contracts ending after November is no accident; corporations know it's harder to find a job around the holidays, so they make it harder for you to leave.

But that holiday job hunting myth is fading. This past month I've had a few clients go on job interviews during sweeps. That happened last year as well. And last year I had a few people hired in December. This kind of stuff used to be rare; now, it seems, the rules are out the window.

One thing to keep in mind this time of year; don't wait for job openings to be posted. Many stations have a good idea what they're going to do today even though the ratings for some markets won't be in for a few weeks. Best to get the jump on things and have a tape in place when openings occur. And there are plenty of people out there who will either leave or make a move during the next few weeks.

The period between May and November sweeps was long held to be the best time to look for a job. While that's still probably true, nowadays you can look for a job anytime. So don't say, "I'll start sending tapes after Christmas." Do it now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Moving for the sake of moving

It happens to just about everyone in the business. You reach a point in a job where you know you've been there too long. You're not learning anything new and your work has plateaued. Other people are beginning to leave, moving on to better places.

And suddenly you just have to get out. Right. Now.

And what often happens is you jump on the first available train out of town. Doesn't matter that the train might be a broken down old locomotive, doesn't matter where it's heading. Anywhere but here.

That happened to me once. A bad situation made it imperative that I bail at the first chance I got. I'd been there too long, friends were leaving. And so I jumped at the first offer that came my way.

And ended up in a situation that was actually worse than the one I'd left. It was one of the worst career decisions I'd ever made, and actually set me back a few years.

Patience may be the most difficult virtue for creative people to develop. We send out a great tape and expect News Directors to ring our phones off the hook. And when it doesn't happen we get desperate, like a teenager who dreads the thought of a Saturday night without a date.

When considering any move, you need to do two things. Take off the rose colored glasses that make any offer look terrific, and seek the honest opinions of people who know you well. Remember, a News Director is like a guy on a first date when conducting an interview. If he really wants to hire you, he tries his best to hide all the warts of the station and put his best foot forward. When considering any offer you need to step back, take a breath, and honestly assess whether moving is going to do your career some long term good... or if you're just taking the job to get the hell out of Dodge.