Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Job Hunting For Dummies - The Montage

With a couple people leaving this past week and rumors of others, here's a thought about resume tapes.

People in the business will argue whether or not to do a montage at the front of your tape. (A montage, for my non-TV readers, is a compliation of clips of the talent, on camera, in different situations. The purpose is to give a hiring news director an idea of how that person looks, what their voice sounds like etc.) For those who don't think a montage is that important...

When I left Peoria the first time, I had sent a tape to a station in California six months before actually getting hired. After telling the news director I wasn't interested in the job she had open at the time, I said "As long as I have you on the phone, what did you think of the dog poop story?" She tells me that she hadn't seen it. Thing is... it was the first story on my tape.

The story was about a guy, who as a second job decided he'd take money from people to pick up their dog's poop. It was creative, but as you can imagine fairly obnoxious. I put the story on my tape thinking if anyone wanted to hire me after watching it... that was someone I wanted to work for.

But the point is, she had only watched the montage and called me to talk based on 30 seconds of tape. Doing a montage well will get you noticed and put you head and shoulders above the rest... and more importantly in the "good" stack of tapes.

So what's a good montage. It changes some with each job, but when you're first getting started, don't worry about absolutely having standups all come from stories you did. Just shoot some. Be creative. Can you walk and talk, can you point something out that's useful. Make em all different.

Once you're in your first job for a while, it's much easier as you'll have more to choose from. Make sure to show range. Make sure they're memorable. Take them from hard news, features, spot news. Live shots and interaction with anchors is especially important because unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) there is less of a premium on story telling ability and more emphasis on someone who looks good and is strong live.

Note: I'm sure some people in large markets will disagree with that, but my last job (current company) took me around the country. In watching the news in more than two dozen larger markets, that's what I came away with. Not that there weren't good solid reporters in all places, but more often than not I saw "Ken and Barbie live."

These montages can last 30 seconds to a minute, but some news directors will give you 10-15 seconds. Also keep in mind that to get hired, the rest of the tape will need to be good (another topic for another time). Like they say, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."

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