Pet Peeves
Deadly Mistakes That Job Applicants Make


Check the market size of the station you're applying for. Nothing is worse than having a person from a #95 ADI applying for a non-managment position in a #189 ADI. It wastes our time and your money.


1) Face it, unless you are extremely lucky or have a dynamite resume tape, your first job is going to be with a small-market station or production company in a small city. Most stations base their beginning salaries on their market size and will not play around with starting salaries. What the manager says the position pays is probably all he or she can afford. So if you hold out for a $30-thousand dollar position, you're not getting the job.

2) Education is nice, but experience counts. There's been many a time I've seen a resume of someone who's got a master's in communication, but no experience. That doesn't cut it for me.

3) Please type a label for your resume tape. Place your address and telephone number on it.

4) With many of the federal regulations regarding equal opportunity hiring, a job position may be open for quite a while or it may seem forever for an employer to make a decision. Don't let this stop your job search. A general guideline would be if you don't hear from an employer three weeks after they received your application, they are probably not interested in you. Remember, an employer doesn't have to talk with everybody who applies. Please be patient.

5) The competition is rough. We had a recent opening in our production department and received more than 120 tapes. Put only your best stuff on your reel. Put your best work first. I usually make up my mind about a candidate in the first 30 seconds of that reel.

6) Enough of the music videos. I hire commerical producers. I expect to see commercials or public service announcements. I don't want to see news stories. In other words, make sure your reel reflects the position you're applying for.

7) If you're about ready to graduate have a heart-to-heart with your professor about your work. Projects that may have gotten you an "A" in class won't cut it in the real world. You should be getting your reel started a year before you graduate. Set up an appointment with a local television station or production house and have them review your work and give you hints way in advance of your graduation. Start your job search about a month or two before you graduate.

8) Don't expect your tape back unless you include a self- addressed stamped envelope. Also remember, all expenses you incur while looking for a job are usually tax-deductible.

9) Treat internships like they were a real job. Many of our jobs have been filled by interns who have demonstrated a desire to learn and have shown professionalism.

10) Please don't feel a part-time production assistant job at a local station is beneath you. Many stations promote from within. If you're hired, show interest in other positions. In smaller markets the turnaround in full-time jobs is constant.

11) And finally, enough of the ego. You're applying for a job in a small market -- it's not New York!

Dan McClintock
Creative Services Dir.

Having been on both sides of the coin, my comments can be taken by both empoyer and applicant.

Arrogance kills: Not often, but some news directors & management are so arrogant they forget they once were involved in the same process not long ago. It is hair raising for applicants. Time and understanding are hard to give due to constraints of the job, but an effort is required to help these people learn from the experience in a positive way! BE CONSTRUCTIVE NOT DESTRUCTIVE IN YOUR COMMENTS! Don't be so shallow in your thoughts that an over sight such as color bars on a resume tape or not putting your "title" on the cover letter lets an excellent talent slip away. We all have and do make mistakes! Take a look at some of the typos on this pet peeves page alone!

Applicants, don't tell your perspective empolyer you are the one for the job and to stop looking for other applicants out of what you have read in a help wanted ad! Confidence is one thing, but don't be a used car salesman, or should I say salesperson. Also do not apply for jobs that ask for experience you may not have yet. In time your experience will come. Save you and the empolyers' time and money. Keep in mind people in news rooms are on extremely tight schedules, under heavy pressure, and are often overworked. If they are advertising to fill a position they may be short staffed on top of the above! Reading and viewing resumes and tapes, and getting a reply out to the (literally) 100's of applicants is enogh work in itself! Throw all that on top of their regular duties of running a busy news department, and you can understand why many applicants don't hear anything back. Choose wisely where you send your tape if it is important to you. Good Luck!

Patrick Breen
CAP Productions
Executive Producer

  • I really get frustrated when applicants send "bits and pieces" of packages they have done instead of sending the entire piece from that newscast's aircheck which includes anchor intro.
  • It really annoys me when someone calls and says, "This is John Doe with KDKA-TV", when in fact they are just interning there yet are able to get through to me by identifying themselves as someone from a major market station interested in a position with my shop. This is deceptive and a signal to me that this individual is not the kind of journalist I would be interested in.
  • I am finding that better than 50 percent of those applying with my station are misrepresenting their previous work experience. Don't lie on a resume or cover letter to get a job as a journalist. When I see this the resume goes in "file 13".
  • Young applicants are also applying for jobs with no experience when an ad says 3-5 years experience needed. This leaves me with scores of tapes from unqualified people to weed through to get to the tapes of those who actually are qualified.

    Steve Crabtree
    News Director

    Petpeeves: For photographer and editor jobs: We really, really hate tapes that...

    1. Start with bars or tone.
    2. Start with a countdown.
    3. Start with a newscast open. (None of these help me see what your work is like.)

      I also don't like tapes that...

    4. Start with an on-camera bio of you.
    5. Have a celebrity or sports figure tell me to hire you.
    6. Aren't cued up.
    7. Start with a music/video montage. We're not MTV. We don't do this stuff. I want to see if you can shoot and edit a news story.

      Good Luck!

    1. Generic cover letters
    2. Implying that logging feeds at ESPN makes one ready for on-air work in a small market
    3. Phone calls right before newscasts
    4. Passing someone else's work off as their own
    5. People who don't do their homework --i.e - "I've always wanted to live in the desert!"

      Nick Matesi
      KNAZ-TV, Flagstaff, AZ
      News Director

    1. Applicants being over formal in their use of language. For goodness sake, put a little human touch into it. Let the potential employer know you're got a personality. But beware - too much, and you could be perceived as being a little too sure of yourself. Strike the balance.

      Emile Guertin

    1. Poor use of grammar (Spellcheck won't catch these mistakes)
    2. Copying "skills" directly from the objectives sections of their textbooks
    3. Lying--creating positions never actually held as work experience
    4. "References available upon request" is a waste of time. Always include a copy of your references with your resume. It saves you, and your prospective employer, time.
    5. Even if an job ad doesn't ask for a reel, send one anyway, but only if you have a great one. Sending a reel shows that you're willing to go beyond what is "required" to get the job.

      Rich Carnahan
      WTOV-TV/Steubenville, OH
      Creative Service Producer

    1. Any cover letter addressed to, "Dear Sir or Madame". (I have a name that can easily be located.)
    2. An applicant that tells me, "Working at your station has always been my ultimate dream". (They need to get a life or some integrity.)
    3. Listing hobbies on a resume with which upon interviewing them it becomes obvious the person has no experience.
    4. Any resume tape submitted on the MII format.

    1. Tapes which aren't cued up.
    2. Implying internships were actually real paying jobs.
    3. Not mentioning in the cover letter what job they are applying for. This is a problem when you have several openings at the same time.

      Greg Boyce
      News Director

    1. Misspellings on resumes and cover letters. (You'd be surprised how common this is.)
    2. Not spelling (or even getting) the news director's name right.
    3. Tapes that have head clogs and are unwatchable. (Check your tapes before you send them.)
    4. Telling me my "search is over, I have found my new (anchor, reporter, etc.)"
    5. From the producer: Calling 15 minutes to air to ask the news director if he got your tape.

      Cheri McGraw
      Former News Director

    1. Taking credit for someone's elses work on your reel.
    2. Indicating you have experience on/with equipment you've only "seen" in action/use.
    3. Using the line, "FILMED a VIDEO about...." in your resume.
    4. I receive resumes from people who simply copied someone's resume and filled in the blanks.
    5. Be original! We see a great deal of potential employees that don't make the cut because they were in too big a hurry to send out their resume and try to score the gig.

      Mike Healey
      LCC/Monroe, LA
      Operations/Production Mgr.

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