Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Put your resume on the back of your business card, and three other tips for journalists seeking work

Shannon Bentley, Francis D'Souza, Howard Glassman, Todd Shapiro, Fred Patterson at Career Day 2014

At the Ontario Association of Broadcasters 2014 Career Day extravaganza yesterday in Toronto at the Rogers building, City TV's Francis D'Souza gave out what I consider one of the most mind-blowing, but so-obvious-I-wish-I'd-thought-of-it piece of advice to the assembled journalism students in the audience: when you hand out your business card to a potential employer, don't waste the space on the back of the card.

D'Souza now works in management as well as on air for City, and says he loves getting business cards from job seekers, but is so busy that he probably won't look at your url for your website, because that would mean he would actually have to log on to his computer or cellphone to look at it. Instead, he suggested you shrink your achievements down to a legible-size font, and put your career highlights on the back of your snazzy business card.

It's a way to get noticed.

Another way to get noticed, we heard yesterday, is to take a chance and introduce yourself to high profile broadcasters or journalists who you admire.

That's how Sportsnet's Evanka Osmak got hired as an anchor here in Toronto.   Osmak and broadcaster Rob Faulds met with my Centennial journalism students (and some from Humber College) in a Sportsnet boardroom yesterday as part of the Career Day. She told them how she got hired seven years ago.

Students with Rob Faulds (l) and Evanka Osmak (r) at Sportsnet

Osmak, a civil engineering graduate (and she still proudly wears her iron ring) decided she was bored with the field, and went to Seneca College for a 4 month course in broadcasting (I used to teach performance there, but she wasn't one of my students).  Afterwords, she took a job in Yuma, Arizona at a local NBC affiliate tv station there. One day, the station sent her to Toronto to do a story on a baseball player named Bengie Molina, and she found herself at the Sky Dome rubbing shoulders with Jamie Campbell, a Blue Jays reporter on Sportsnet. Campbell is from Oakville. Osmak is also from Oakville.

She says she went up to him, and introduced herself, and asked him if he would look at her demo tapes sometime. He said he would, but Osmak says she never followed up on it. Nevertheless, a few months later, a bigwig at Sportsnet asked Campbell if he knew any female sports reporters, and Campbell didn't remember Osmak's name, but when he Googled Arizona sports stations, he found her picture, and the rest is history.

Radio hosts Humble and Fred (aka Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson) issued an urgent appeal for interns for their radio show (now also being heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio) "We're at DEFCON 5, people!" Earlier, Glassman told the students in the Velma Rogers Theatre to actually show up in person, and be persistent, to try to get the program director or hiring manager to give you a shot. According to Patterson, who ran two stations in Peterborough for Corus Radio, most radio station program directors in smaller markets actually have the time to chat for a few minutes if you just turn up (after sending in your resume, and, he cautioned, don't be creepy and stalk them!). And even if there isn't an immediate opportunity, as soon as something comes up, if they can put a face to your name, that's when the call happens in the future. Follow up is key, they both agreed. And say "Thank you" for the meeting and the opportunity. Old fashioned manners get you noticed, they agreed.

And know how to spell, urged Shannon Bentley, former Discovery TV tech reporter who now runs her own media production company specializing in extreme sports and marketing. She hates getting resumes from folks who can't spell or misspell her name.
At Sportsnet with Humber students and Centennial students and Theo Fleury and me!

Centennial Journalism's Nina Raynars with CHCH TV manager  (Another student, Preston Dozsa in the background).