Thursday, March 28, 2013

Getting over the fear of sending tapes

I'm not sure if this is a generational thing, but I suspect it is. Back in the day we didn't hesitate to send tapes anywhere. Job open at the network? Take a shot. Major market? Off to the post office. News Director is a legend? Fuhgeddaboudit. Send the tape.

These days I hear the following:

"What will they think of me if they don't like me?"

"I'm sure my tape is not good enough."

"If they don't like my current tape, I'll lose any chance of ever getting in that market."

"News Directors will talk about me if they hate my tape."

The result is that you don't send the tape. The aggressive attitude you have as a reporter or anchor flat out disappears when it comes to a job search. You crawl back into your little hole, comfortable in the fact that your current station likes you. You play it safe.

(Oh, hang on. I hear sirens. They're getting closer. Uh-oh. There's a knock at the door. It's the resume tape police and I have to answer the door. It's a big burly cop holding up a DVD. He wants to know if I know the whereabouts of the sender. "No officer, I have no idea where you can  find the person who sent me this tape. Yes, I understand there's a manhunt and the reporter will be thrown in jail, flogged, and made to watch reality television for ten years. Yes, I know that the penalty for sending out a tape that a News Director doesn't like is banishment from the industry."

Okay, they're gone. But you guys better lay low, 'cause they're out there looking for you.)

Back to our discussion. Let's blow up each of the statements:

"What will they think of me if they don't like me?"
Answer: They won't think anything, because they won't remember you. News Directors watch thousands of tapes each year. They remember the ones they like, not the ones they don't. They eject those in fifteen seconds. If I made you watch fifteen seconds of 1,000 tapes, how many names could you remember?

"I'm sure my tape is not good enough."
Answer: This one's right up there with, "I'm not sure if she'll go out with me," or "I'm not sure this college will accept me." So, let me get this straight. You're unsure as to the quality of your tape, so you're going to answer this question by... wait for it... leaving it in your desk drawer. The only way you'll know if your tape is good enough is by sending it out. A lot. No response after 50 tapes? Then start thinking about changing it.

"If they don't like my current tape, I'll lose any chance of getting in that market."
Answer: That's right, because you'll never, ever improve. You'll have the same quality tape five years from now as you do today. They may hit the eject button this time, but next time they might like you. There's nothing that says you get only one chance for any job. You can always apply again.

"News Directors will talk about me if they hate my tape."
Answer: (Oh, sorry, phone's ringing. I see it's a News Director friend of mine and I need to take this. "Hello?"
"Hey, Randy, I've got that list of names of eighty-five bad resume tapes I watched this week. You got something to write with? And if you've got time I'd like to discuss each one with you.")

Please guys, get over your fear. This is real life and not everyone gets a trophy for participating. But if you don't participate, you have zero chance of getting the trophy.

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