How to Overlook Television's

Best Candidates

July 29, 2018

The last brainless HR idea on our list is the idea that you can hire great people by treating them like dirt, subjecting them to insulting online application forms and then using a keyword-searching algorithm to screen resumes for you. Employers who can’t evolve beyond Applicant Tracking Systems and keyword-based resume screening will lose out on the best talent — just as the laws of supply and demand predict.

It’s a new day in the workplace. Smart and capable people are in demand, but only if they know their own value!

                                                                                                -Liz Ryan, Forbes


In my opinion, internal media recruiters have an impossible job. They are hampered by key word searches and time. Most recruiters spend 6 seconds with a resume. Many never even read your cover letter. Most have never been in a position that was remotely similar to the one they must fill and, for the most part, they are underpaid. The result is that many times the best candidates are never seen by the hiring manager.


Wow! That would work really well in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. You would end with a college-like team that could write, but not play in the pros.


Think about it for a moment. The best candidates have unusual traits that don’t conform to norms. Let me give you an example: Many years ago when I was News Director at WABC, Channel 7 was never beaten on breaking news. I take no credit for that. The people who were responsible were there before I was. The assignment desk dispatched a crew based on a tip, or on what was heard on the police scanners. This was done BEFORE anyone called to verify that what they heard on the scanner was true. In several instances, our crew arrived at an active scene before the police or fire department. Sometimes that gamble cost us a good story, because the crew was reassigned to what turned out to be a non-story. However, most of the time we were live a good 15 minutes before our competitors. That is called risk taking, and it takes guts. The biggest gamble I saw anyone take is when the Senior Executive Producer heard on a scanner that a train failed to stop and crashed into the terminal at Penn Station. He calmly got on the radio, and pulled every crew from its story, and headed all 14 of them in live vans towards Penn Station. As minutes ticked by, he started redirecting some crews to hospitals, and others to where we knew that traffic would come to a halt. The time was 3:30 PM. The crews that had been reassigned were working on stories for the station’s 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM newscasts. I asked our Executive Producer how he intended to fill two hours if the initial police radio transmission turned out to be wrong. He replied, “I will figure it out.” That is called confidence, and I had complete confidence in my team. They were the best. As it turned out, a train had crashed. There were multiple fatalities. ABC7 was live from 3 locations for 30 minutes before anyone else got its first live report.


Fast forward to today. If you were that Senior Executive Producer, how would you write your resume? Would you say, “I am a risk taker, who makes split second decisions based on few facts, and I’m right 99% of the time.”? While it may be true, it does not sound credible. It also sounds arrogant.


In my opinion, the key word searches should end immediately. And, our industry needs more recruiters who have real world experience and are better paid. Or, we should eliminate recruiters all together. Nexstar apparently agrees. It eliminated its HR department. My guess is that it was a budget cutting move. Nevertheless, Nexstar has hired some strong GMs. There is a reason that TV stations have many average managers, and few management stars. Good decision making and cultures start at the top. They are not led by HR or recruiters.



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