Job hunting tips from the experts

Staff Writer

It often seems as though there are fewer radio roles available each year as the industry finds more ways to multi-task, identifies more synergies between across stations, or as networking becomes more entrenched than ever.

Whether those statements are completely or partially correct, or perhaps perception, ultimately if you’re looking for a new role, or for your first role in radio, you have two choices:

Either you either complain about state of the business and lament for the ‘good old days’, or you get on with ensuring that you’re one of the people who stand out from the crowd when you’re hunting for a role.

So who better to ask than the people who oversee the various Human Resources departments. These are generally the first port of call for your resume, irrespective of the kind of role you’re going for. At times, even if it’s an on-air role, the majority of companies will direct you through HR in the first instance these days.

So how do you stand out from the crowd?

ABC's Sophie Watson

Sophie Watson is the ABC’s HR Projects Consultant, and one of the ‘gatekeepers’ if you are looking for a role with ABC Radio.

‘There’s no secret, just make sure you highlight the skills and experience you can bring to the job you are applying for. Always do a spell check and proof read and never write in the third person.’

And Alana Howe, Head of HR at Nova Entertainment agreed;

“Definitely keep it (your resume) short and to the point. Find ways to summarise your experience that is most linked to the selection criteria for the role. Listing your specific achievements is also a good idea.

Always ensure that your Resume is tailored to the role and company you are applying for”.

Increasingly, in a digital world there are all sorts of creative ways to build a resume. Does this make a difference and help applicants stand out from the pack?

Nicole Macdonald, SCA’s Talent and Recruitment Manager;

There is definitely an increase in the number of digital resumes and we love these. As companies further embark on their digital journey we want to see the people applying for these role put their best digital foot forward also.

It is a way to stand out from the crowd. As more and more people go down the digital resume path though, the more inventive applicants will have to get. It’s such an exciting time!”

ABC’s Sophie Watson said that this is increasing all the time;“We are seeing more digital resumes, social media profiles and websites. A traditional resume still has its place though”.

NZME's Michelle Hamilton

The Director of Culture at NZME is Michelle Hamilton, who added a word of caution about your digital footprint when getting creative;

“This approach is gaining popularity but is not yet the norm. Lots of people are linking to their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles, although some of them clearly haven’t thought that one through in terms of what their social media activity or history says about them.

So it looks as though used carefully, a digital approach showing your creativity can work, but what about other creative ideas?

We’ve all seen a job application arrive with a bunch of balloons, or a box of cupcakes, with an aircheck or letter pinned to it.

“Yum, I have never received a box of cupcakes but if I did, other than being super grateful for the snacks, the only call you’d probably get was from me to say thanks”  commented SCA’s Nicole Macdonald.

If you’re not right for the role, you’re not right for the role. It could also be seen as a bit of a desperate act. In media and specifically digital media, I would be more impressed with a live reel of your work, or an interactive resume. Think outside the box but don’t throw yourself at the company.

Melanie McTaggart is ARN‘s Human Resources Manager, and agreed that creativity can play a role in some circumstances; “It is dependant on the industry and the role being applied for. Creativity definitely has it’s place in radio”

NZME’s Michelle Hamilton is a fan of a creative approach; “Absolutely, it makes my day to receive a top secret envelope that promises to self-destruct if not opened by lunchtime. Those applicants are always remembered and in a creative industry like radio why not bring what you’ve got from the get go”.

Nova Entertainments Alana Howe added;

“I believe they do (have a place) if the detail in the application is still strongly linked to the skills and experience we’re recruiting for. If there isn’t a strong link then these types of tactics are far less valid.

Making an effort to create an engaging application generally does demonstrate your commitment to the role and company and I view that quite favourably”

Hays Recruitment director Jane McNeill told News Limited in an article last week that employers made a judgment on a candidate within eight seconds of an interview beginning.

If that’s the case, in a written form how do you grab their attention quickly and ‘sell yourself’. Is it best to cut to the chase and go straight to your resume, or is a well crafted cover letter still important?

“Application letters and emails are important as it’s these that give some insight into the ‘real’ person” said ARN’s Melanie McTaggart, “This is where an applicant can gain our attention and make us want to meet them to find out more”.

NZME’s Michelle Hamilton added;

“I’ve asked a lot of people this question myself and it seems to be that hiring managers love a good letter of introduction but HR people in general will cut straight to the chase, skim the letter at best, probably for grammar and attention to detail, ie: does the cover letter match the job applied for? And move on to the resume”

Nicole Macdonald from SCA agreed;

SCA's Nicole Macdonald

I always request a cover letter in addition to the resume. It is another opportunity for you to sell yourself above and beyond your resume.

What can you tell me about yourself that I can’t see on your resume? Make me want to meet you! If the advertiser is asking for you to address certain things in your cover letter then I would recommend answering those questions. It is a great first impression to have ticked all the application boxes.”

Sophie Watson from ABC has a slightly different approach;

I cut straight to the resume, HR managers are time poor and can sometimes be sifting through hundreds of resumes for one job. That being said when I find a good resume I always go back and read the cover letter so for me it’s still crucial you write a good one”.

And finally references….are they important? Are they old school? And should you list your referees and their contact details, or say that they are ‘available on request’?

Does ARN’s Melanie McTaggart believe they are important?

“Absolutely! We’re also in the fortunate position in Radio that quite a few applicants remain in the industry so in addition to referees we can call on networking contacts to provide feedback. We always request at least 2 referees and will contact both in addition to our own research”.

Nova’s Alana Howe felt the same;

“They are a key contact for the Company to validate your experience and performance in past roles, as a predictor of your success in the role you’ve applied for.

We’re also able to get a view on your general approach to work from an independent source. I’m more than happy for them to be ‘on request’ as this also ensures that the candidate has an opportunity to let their referees know to expect our call.

And Sophie Watson from the ABC believes they are critical;

“Referees can often be the deciding factor. Just make sure you brief your referees properly about the job, it’s also important that they are expecting the call and are not caught off guard. Also make sure they are available to take the call, waiting on reference checks can seriously delay an offer”.

Michelle Hamilton from NZME isn’t a fan of written references, saying;

“Reference letters aren’t worth the paper they are written on but a quality conversation with an engaged referee is worth its weight in gold”.

Whilst Nicole Macdonald from SCA said it’s just too dangerous not to reference check applicants;

“It is a commercial risk to hire without being able to get positive references on a candidate, so we don’t do it”.  

So with all information, you should be prepared to develop the great resume and killer application to get the gig you want.

Perhaps as a final word of advice we’ll leave you with this from ARN’s Melanie McTaggart on what she believes makes a great resume;

“Passion and a point of difference. Genuine passion, and the desire to work in the industry will come through in an application”.

If you’ve got any tips that you can share, let us know in the comments below. And good luck with the job hunting!

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