How YOU Are All You Need To Land The BIG GIG!
May 13, 2014
I learned early on in my career that a creative cover letter can get you interviewed even when your demo is sub-par. I had little experience at the time; some college, an internship at B96/Chicago and a part-time on-air job at Top 40 WYBR/Rockford, which is now WXRX, and has been since 1987.
Greg Thunder was the night jock at WYBR at the time, and he was already amazing! His career would prove that quickly, too, as he became an easy hire for most of the major markets.
There was an opening at a station in Kansas City for a night jock and my cover letter used lyrics from all of the hits at that time. I don't remember the exact verbiage, but I remember when the phone rang, I quickly learned that you shouldn't underestimate the power of the creative cover letter. It's a tool, an opportunity to get them to see you.
DO THE HUMPTY HUMP
It happened again when the Humpty Dance was big. I was on-air and promotions at the Power Pig, 93-3 FLZ in Tampa at the time, and my on-air name was the Ragman, and I remember changing Humpty to Ragman, using words like Larry Hagman and making references to not having a Jeannie to call, y'all!
The phone rang again. I still didn't get the job, but I got them calling.
From there, I had changed my cover letter to a love story about a guy, Me, who had met a woman on a flight from (insert town I'm living in at the moment) to (insert town I want to work in someday), so at the time, I was on a flight from Syracuse to Los Angeles when turbulence rocks the plane so hard it would have registered a 7.1 on the Richter scale.
The girl on the plane seated next to me grabs my hand for reassurance, and when things calm down we get to talking and she looks in my eyes and I look in hers, and you know that twinkle that the kids get in their eyes on those cheesy Disney TV shows? Well, we both had them.
LOVE ON A PLANE, BETTER THAN SNAKES
We knew this was love and that nothing could stop us from being together, except the fact that she was from a (small town), near whatever job I was going for at the time, so in this case, Lyman, SC, as I was attempting to get a job in Greenville, SC.
The story ends where the girl gives me an ultimatum. If I am going to prove my love, I have to leave my job in Syracuse and move to her hometown. I was torn between two women at this time, the woman who will never be faithful; the woman named RADIO, and this beauty I had just met on the plane. But at baggage claim her bags showed up immediately and she had to leave. I missed her immediately, and while waiting for my luggage thought of ways I could get to her hometown. After an hour of waiting, it was obvious my luggage got lost.
Here's how this seemingly long cover letter ended.
It turned out that my luggage was sent to, of all places, Charlotte, NC. So, since I have to come to the Carolinas to pick up my luggage anyway, can I have the PD job at B93.7, WFBC?
DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU'RE HERE?
When Jim Kirkland, the OM in Greenville at the time, had flown me into, of all places, Charlotte, for the job interview, he took me into his office and his first question to me was this...
"Do you know why I've called you here?" Kirkland asked.
Before I could answer with something stupid, he said I had to meet the person who wrote this, and with that he lifted the cover letter from his desk.
I could pinpoint many places where my career really started. It could have been four years prior to this when I was given the job as marketing director of the ultra-creative, edgy and groundbreaking Power Pig in Tampa during its most successful run. It could have been two years prior to this, when Dave Edwards, the PD at 93Q in Syracuse, gave me the night show, when it seemed like my on-air opportunities just weren't going to materialize, but honestly, I think it was when a story I wrote from my heart resonated with the person who was in the hiring position, quickly taking an unknown radio entity and giving him an opportunity many strive for.
TELL THE TRUTH
The story of the incident on the plane was a lie, but the contents of the guy wanting to fall deeply in love were not, and the REAL quality of a guy in search of Mrs. Right, became the catalyst to open doors for years to come.
With e-mails, cover letters have become a thing of the past, which is why I think they're more important NOW than they were then, because you will stand out when the person seeks to get to know you more.
Social media is the new door opener, as businesses will check out your social media and see how you interact with the world. When you're posting something JUST TO POST, you might want to consider that every post not thought out will hurt you when the prospective new boss comes to find someone creative, someone who works even when it's not TRULY part of the job, but it is.
A post that says you "Ran 5 Miles," isn't going to resonate as much as "Pains in your tummy at mile 5, but not giving up."
THIS IS WHERE YOUR STORY BEGINS...
People are truly just looking for people who have a story to tell, and grabbing them with creativity allows you to get that interview, which gives you the ability to share that story.
In New York, when Nick Cannon's morning show was looking for a producer, I found that creative spark on a Facebook page of a guy who had given up on radio. His name is Ryan Johnson, once on the producer team with Ace & TJ, a team that KNOWS how to utilize creativity through stories to captivate the end user.
Ryan's Facebook post simply said, "Just gave out my business card to the coolest person ever!
His post had ONE like, but that one like, was Jesus giving Ryan the thumbs up. I laughed. Ryan got a call from me. Ryan got the job.
Here's that post, but now, after working with Nick, he added to it as you can see.
Tell a story, wherever someone will read your story. If you've got a similar story, please share it with us at StraightPathMandE@gmail.com.