Get a Job
November 18, 2011
So you've been fired, huh? Canned, let go, released, made a free agent, contract expired, made redundant, seeking new opportunities, now available, exited, left by mutual agreement, whatever term you want to use, it's the same: You were employed, and now you're not.
Every once in a while, I like to run through the advice I give people who ask me what to do when they're looking for work in the radio business. This seems like a good time to do that, considering that the Grim Reaper's been making his way across the country lately. Besides, job hunting books like "What Color Is Your Parachute," while helpful, don't really address the specific quirks of the radio industry. If you're one of the folks who've gotten the bad news, let me offer some ideas, and if you don't like them, at least they're free. Here:
1. Network. This is something you should have been doing all along, and if you're presently employed, you should be doing it now. If "it's who you know" has ever been the case, it is now. When openings occur, a PD or consultant is going to immediately go through the mental contact list of everyone he or she knows to see if there are any likely candidates there. You need to be on that list, and just being a Facebook friend is not enough. Work your network. Get people to introduce you to more people. Go to events where PDs are likely to congregate, like conventions (I know, I'm always whining about my convention experiences, but that's where you can get face time with the right people). Email or call and ask for advice. Stay in touch with people. (And if you only get in touch when you need something, that might work against you)
2. Be open to everything. If you really want to work in radio, you can't be too locked to things like market size. Besides, you might find that a smaller market offers you a better working experience. If you decide -- and I did this myself -- that you don't want to move anymore, be prepared to work in another business, because concentrating on one market reduces your chances for continued radio employment a lot. Whether it's from scouring the All Access job listings or seeing a story about another host being fired or a station changing format, you need to apply for anything that you can see yourself accepting. Remember, too, that even if you don't get that job, you never know who will hear your stuff and keep you in mind for future openings.
(2a. Don't wait for a job to be advertised. Read Net News several times a day, and when you see an opening happen, jump on it. Maybe they already have a replacement in mind, but maybe they don't. You won't know unless you try)
3. Stay fresh. You have the tools to keep doing shows even if you're not on the air. Do a podcast, or record material just for yourself; just make sure that you have fresh material, both for the practice and to have something if a potential employer asks for something recent.
4. Consider a career change. This is the tough one, the Plan B option. Ask yourself what you'd do if radio ceased to exist today. What would you do? What would you WANT to do? Your options include adapting your skills to a different field -- writing, marketing, voiceovers, Internet -- or getting retrained for a new vocation, or going back to school. That's not to suggest that you should give up now, but, let's face it, there are fewer opportunities in radio. It doesn't hurt to expand your job hunt to other fields. Even the best and most talented people aren't guaranteed that there'll be jobs for them in the radio industry. Don't restrict yourself, especially in this economy. Pride doesn't pay the rent or put food on your table. And even if you take a job outside the business, there's always a possibility you'll be back.
5. Have faith in yourself and your future. Getting discouraged is natural, but getting a job, or getting the right job, involves so many variables that you can't always blame yourself if things don't go the way you want them to go. Yeah, the industry's in the doldrums. Yeah, the economy sucks. Yeah, it's hard to get a job in the business. Yeah, it's awful to be looking for work during the holidays. But jobs in radio do exist and someone has to do them. As I've told you here before, it might as well be you.
Good luck with the job hunt. And if you're presently employed, get going with the networking and making yourself too valuable to get the ax. This isn't a good time to take anything for granted.
Whether you're employed or "at leisure," there's something interesting for you at Talk Topics, the show prep column at All Access News-Talk-Sports, which has hundreds of ideas and stories for your talk radio needs; find it here, and on Twitter at @talktopics. There's also this week's "10 Questions With..." WCHV/Charlottesville PD/morning host and syndicated "The Afternon Constitutional" host Joe Thomas. And as always, you'll find the best radio and music industry coverage at Net News, with the top stories tweeted at @allaccess. And, unrelated to All Access, you can follow me on Twitter at @pmsimon, read my stuff at Nerdist.com, and check out my personal website at pmsimon.com.
Next week, we'll skip the column due to Thanksgiving in the U.S. Have a great holiday. I'd tell you not to eat too much, but eating too much is pretty much what the holiday's all about.