I’ve hired a lot of folks over the past 35 years in broadcasting, and thankfully most have been good hires, some excellent, and some even extraordinary. I count in that latter group Robert Krulwich, Robert Siegel, Noah Adams, Scott Simon, David Brancaccio, David Brown, and many others.
But I have also encountered job applicants who left me with a bad taste in my mouth — not because of who they were, but rather because of what they did during the application process. For the benefit of future applicants, I thought I’d detail some of what I consider the “cardinal sins” of applying for a job.
- The obvious time-wasters: those who haven’t read the detailed job description or lifted a finger to research the company or station doing the hiring. Those who know they don’t qualify. Those who know they don’t want to move to the station’s location and try to convince me to let them “telecommute” while doing a local reporting or producing job. Those whose salary needs greatly exceed the posted salary.
- The job-seekers with hidden liabilities: those who won’t pass a reference check. This applies especially to former bosses they don’t list as references—a sure sign that I need to call those bosses. Those who were fired for cause and think they can hide it. Those who lie about their experience and/or credentials. For example, everybody uses Facebook, but not all Facebook users are knowledgeable about how to exploit “social media.”
- The con men and women: These are the applicants who aren’t at all interested in your job but will take up your and your staff’s time solely to use your interest to get a raise or a job elsewhere! These folks are playing you off against their current or real prospective employer. Some are so bold about this that they’ll even come out and say it, with no feeling of shame or guilt: “I like your job, but if WXYZ offers me a job, I’ll take theirs.”
If you fall into any of these three categories, stop cold in your tracks.
Our industry is a small one, and word of your transgressions will get around. Even more to your discredit and reputational damage, though, is the lack of respect that playing such games reveals.
The folks in the trenches at public radio stations around the country work really hard and are chronically under-resourced. The time they give up to recruit, interview and vet applicants is precious. Their generosity with their time and the opportunities they offer need to be respected and appreciated.