Thursday, September 1, 2011

Are your tapes in the mail?

Just a reminder that the fall hiring season unofficially starts in earnest on Monday.

It's September first... do you know where your tapes are?


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One-way phone tag


ND says they want to see some of your work for an opening they have.
You get it to them... couple of weeks go by... no response?
They forget about you? How should you handle that?

Perhaps the most common complaint I hear from job hunters, and one I made when I was a reporter, is the return call situation with News Directors. The above comment is typical.

You can run into one of the following situations:

-News Director calls, likes your work, says he'll get back to you. Weeks pass with no call.

-News Director calls, tells you he likes your stuff. Tells you to call him on a certain day. You do, but never get a return call.

-News Director calls and says he'll have a decision for you one way or another by a certain day. Day passes. A week passes. Agita ensues.

In my personal experience, two situations stick out. In one, I flew in for an interview Friday and was told by the ND as he dropped me at the airport that he would definitely make a decision on Monday. THREE WEEKS LATER he calls (while I'm on vacation) and offers me the job. In the second situation, I get a call from a News Director about a tape I had sent TWO YEARS EARLIER.

As mentioned before, lots of things can put hiring on the back burner. News gets in the way, stations want to save money, etc. Nowadays we live in a society in which no one wants to make a decision, which makes things even worse.

So waddaya do?

Well, if you're asked for samples of your work and hear nothing, it could mean those higher than the ND didn't like your work, the hiring got delayed, or any number of things. Wait patiently. I know, this is difficult, but everytime you call, your salary offer goes down. You can't appear too eager.

If you're asked to call and don't hear back, try again every few days. But after three tries, just wait.

If you're told a decision is coming on a certain day and it doesn't, do nothing. This happens more often than not.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mailbag: Let's play lowball!

I was sending out some tapes today and I thought to myself, if I was to get a job offer how would I even know if I was getting a good deal? Is their a certain salary that you should expect at certain markets. For instance, Market 180 -I wouldn't expect much, maybe 20,000 - If I'm lucky. But what If I get an offer for a reporter position in the 50-80 range yet I'm fresh out of college and they low ball me... Any advice on salary range, asking for "outs" in your contract, etc...?

Lowball is a really cool game... in poker. Makes you think out of the box. My old roommate used to always call lowball when it was his deal in our Friday nite poker games. The object is to get the worst possible hand (Ace, two, three, four, six is a perfect lowball hand.)

In television news, the News Director's object is to hire someone for the lowest possible salary. It's not that the ND wants to have a staff full of poor people, but he has this thing called a budget that the beancounters keep an eye on at all times.

It's a lot like a salary cap in the NFL. You only have so much you can spend.

So let's say a reporter leaves who was making 35 thousand dollars, and at the time he left I had no more money in the budget. I have a reporter I'd like to hire who I know is making 20 grand in some station in Palookaville. So I know that 25 grand is going to sound like a nice raise. That's my first offer. I start playing lowball becuase I know I have ten grand to play with, and I can come up a bit and make it look like I'm a good guy. In reality, I can spend 35 grand, but I'd like to have a little cash for a rainy day.... or maybe some new equipment.

Now, let's say I want to go no higher than 25 grand but the reporter wants to negotiate. I can throw in some perks that aren't part of the salary budget.... things like hair and makeup, a health club membership, etc. These are things often "traded out" by a station for commercial time, and are kinda sorta off the books as far as the news budget is concerned. So if I go this route I've still saved 10 grand.

Back to our intrepid young reporter's question... if you're fresh out of college you have basically little or no bargaining position. Nada, bupkes. You will get lowballed. But you have a better chance of getting perks than cash... as long as you ask politely. Outs don't cost a News Director money, but they are often reluctant to give them to rookies. Do a little homework and find out if other people within a company have outs. Very often a ND will say, "This company doesn't give outs," which is often not true.

By the way, don't equate market size with salary. Some small markets pay better than some medium ones. A lot has to do with the company, cost of living, etc. There's no formula that tells you what market 100 would pay as compared to market 50.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano