Sometimes a News Director gets awfully close to a coin flip when hiring someone. You can get two candidates who are very close in talent, or their strengths in different areas balance each other out.
And sometimes your decision comes down to something small. And, as you know, something small can often tip the scales in life.
That said, here's a list of little things you can do that might tip those scales in your favor someday:
-Thank you notes. Any time you go out on an interview, you should put one in the mail the next day. It should be old fashioned snail mail. An email takes thirty seconds and gets lost in hundreds of others a manager gets on any given day. But when a News Director gets a handwritten card mailed the old fashioned way, it sticks out. All you have to say is something like, "Thanks for your hospitality during my recent interview. I enjoyed visiting your station and am excited by the possibilities."
-Send references with your resume. If there's one annoying thing that should be retired forever, it's that one line at the bottom of a resume that reads, "References on request." Seriously, why should I look at a tape, read a cover letter, check out a resume.... and then have to make a phone call to get references? There is absolutely no reason to withhold these. Any time you can save a ND a phone call, it helps. Remember, make it as easy as possible for him to hire you. (And make sure the reference phone numbers are correct.)
-Dress professionally on your tape. I realize we seem to be enjoying a perpetual casual Friday these days, even on the networks, but classic clothes and old school class still impress. Guys, I'll say it again: wear a damn necktie.
-Follow directions. If it says don't call, don't. If the ad directs you to send tapes to HR, then do so (but address the cover letter to the ND.)
-Spell the ND's name correctly. Get the call letters right.
-Don't blow smoke up his backside with cover letter phrases like, "Your station has a long history of delivering a quality newscast."
-Keep a list of NDs who are nice to you, say encouraging things about your work, etc. They move as often as everyone else, and when they do, it's time to touch base again.
-Have a professional voicemail greeting. The last thing I want to hear when hiring someone out of college is, "Dude, you've reached Joe. You know what to do, man."
-Return all calls and emails promptly.
-Clean up your internet footprint. Get all the bad photos, comments, and especially opinions off your social networking sites. Keep everything online professional, with nothing too personal.
-Let them hear your smile on the phone. Sound excited when you get a call from a prospective employer.
-Write your name & phone number on your DVD. Boxes get lost all the time, and you don't want a ND to have to load the thing to get your contact info off the tape.