How to Get That Gig: 16 Do’s and Don’ts To Get The Job You Want
by Tracy Johnson
You know you have the ability. The talent is there. Now the trick is to get the attention of decision makers. Or, maybe more importantly, how to avoid screwing up a shot at a dream job. What is the best way to get that gig when there are far more available personalities than there are great positions? It starts with the demo package.
Every personality has gone through the pain of sifting through hours and hours of audio in search of perfect breaks that show off the awesomeness.
Finally, the tedious searching, skimming and editing is complete. You have IT. The perfect demo. It represents what you sound like, and puts your best foot forward. You send it off and wait.
How do you get noticed? Here’s what you need to know to get that gig, starting with the demo package.
16 Tips to Get That Gig: The Demo Package
There’s no fool-proof method, but personalities can increase the chance to get attention.
Here are 16 Do’s and Don’ts to help you get that gig:
Do: Keep the introduction short and to the point. Nobody has time to read your life story. A long one just gets in the way. Send a short paragraph or two. Be brief and considerate of the decision-maker’s time. Ideally, they already know who you are. If not, the audio is your entry point to make them interested.
Don’t: Make it generic. Every detail matters. Each word said and each word written makes a statement about your personality. Use that to your advantage. A great introduction by email, text or letter can build anticipation. Put that decision-maker in a great mood to look forward to hearing the demo package. And dress it up. Another resume looks that looks like all the rest gets lost in the clutter. Use color and emphasize highlights of the important stops in your career path.
Do: Make the first contact personal. Take a minute to find out what the station name is (not just call letters), and know a little bit (at least) about the station’s history. A generic application that could be for any station makes the PD think you don’t really want to work there. You just need a gig. Demonstrate you’ve done the homework and are not just sending a million applications hoping something sticks.
Don’t: Start the e-mail with “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Program Director.” That shows you’re lazy or just want a job, but don’t really want this job.
Quick to Audio
Do: You’re applying for an on-air role. That’s audio. Make it easy and fast to get to the audio, featuring YOU. Attach a small mp3 file or a link to one air check online. Send the single best representation, but not a break that’s so perfect you can’t back it up. If it takes the PD too long to figure out where and how to listen, they may move on without consideration.
Don’t: Send multiple breaks, each in its own audio file. It’s too many hoops to jump through. Make it easy for the decision maker to hear it, like it and get to know you. Don’t make them have to “work” for it. It’s just like attracting a listener. Make it easy. Keep it simple!
How Long Should It Be?
Do: Send an air check that’s between two and four minutes long. No matter how good it is, chances are the PD won’t listen to all of it. And if they look at the length or size of file and see that it’s long, there’s a good chance they won’t listen at all. Think about your response to a long video on YouTube. It seems like too much work, and you bail out.
Don’t: Send a full show. Or even an air check that’s tightly edited to 6-8 minutes long. The goal in the initial contact should be to get attention, and make the initial cut. The intro audio is only to get in the discussion. Nobody wins the job on the first audition tape. That’s just an introduction. It’s like the hook of an on-air segment. Just get the audience to the content!
Do: Send a series of breaks, edited tightly together. They want to hear a range of ability that represents what you’re all about. It’s like a sample at Costco.
Narration? NO! You Won’t Get That Gig
Don’t: Send a narrated version of career history. It’s boring and boring air checks cause PD’s to think you’re a boring personality. There’s nothing wrong with a video on your personal website that includes all the details, but keep it out of the demo package.
Do: Start the air check demonstrating the core of what you sound like. And put the very best segment up-front. If it’s buried deeper, the PD may never hear the best moments. And, when he/she (hopefully) plays it for other decision makers, they’ll have even less patience to get to the “good stuff”.
Don’t: Begin the air check with production. They’re not hiring a production director or imaging person. Any job worth having will be from a PD who won’t be tricked by slick bells and whistles.
Do: Repeat: Put the best break first. ALWAYS. Saving it or the grand finale is a quick way to insure it will not be heard.
Don’t: Make the first break something that sounds like it could be anyone else. Capture attention immediately with something completely unique. You wouldn’t believe how many air checks never get past the first 10 seconds.
Campaign to Get That Gig
Do: Follow up. But give it a day or two before becoming a pest. And in the follow up, have a point. You may not get this gig, but it’ll make points with the PD and it may lead to a great recommendation or consideration in the future. And, you never know….you may learn something that will help you as a personality.
Don’t: E-mail the next day and ask “Did you get my stuff?” That’s pointless. Have a plan or strategy to discuss the audio, not the job. Ask for help, advice and feedback. It will flatter the PD and stand out among all the others calling to say, “Did you get my stuff?”
So this is the dream gig, and it’s a perfect fit! The demo package is in place, and it feels great. Don’t stop promoting. There are many things that can get the attention of a PD. Don’t sit back and wait for it to magically happen.
Campaign for it. This is marketing. In most situations, there’s not a clear applicant that stands out above all others. Usually there are a few that are close. The difference is subjective and the candidate that comes off as most likable and enthusiastic has a huge advantage.
Demonstrate that you have what it takes to win, and are smart and resourceful enough to win the support of all those involved with the decision.
Work the GM, the promotions department, the APD, MD and consultant. Even the DOS. Just make sure not to go behind the PD”s back. That’s a sure way to get on the “naughty” list. But do it the right way, and the campaign will build a groundswell of support internally. That can be an important tie-breaker at crunch time.
Ask This Question
Finally, here’s one of the greatest gig-getting questions of all time. It impresses every boss, and indicates that you want to be an active contributor to the company.
Ask this one question. Then insist on an answer.
What does it take to be successful here?
If they give a thoughtful answer and offer guidance, the decision maker will become invested in your success, career and future. They take a personal stake in seeing you succeed. You’ve just recruited an unofficial mentor.
The demo package is where the campaign begins. It’s the critical first step in getting into the game. Invest time in it. Then follow it with a creative campaign to win the gig.
Believe me, a creative approach to marketing will break ties.
Great on-air gigs are rare and there’s a lot of competition. When an opportunity arises, go for it. But invest the time to do it right. And start prepping materials for it now. Don’t wait until the job is posted, then scramble to apply.
No get out there and get that gig.
Thanks to R-Dub (Randy Williams) for inspiration and content in creating this article.
Photo credit: Freepik.com
Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.