Applying to ESPN? 3 tips for making a great impression

Many TV play-by-play broadcasters will eventually apply for work at ESPN. Hundreds, maybe thousands, do every year.

What are you going to do to set yourself apart from so many competitors? Here are some suggestions from the people who work there.

1. Have a great website

Getting your foot in the door at ESPN starts with your brand. Your brand is everything.

Your brand must wow because you are only going to get five minutes at first. When a coordinating producer clicks on your website to review your demo, what will they see?

The quality of your website shows ESPN and other employers that you care. If you don’t know how to build a website, find someone who can or learn it yourself.

Your site should represent your personality. Don’t use randomly sized and colored fonts. Skip the dark and gloomy background

Use those first five minutes to make a great first impression and sell yourself. The impression is all about you – your appearance, your voice, what it is that you’re saying and how you present it.

Invest the time. Invest the effort. Show you care.

2. Send the right demo

If the only play-by-play you have is old, it’s better than nothing. More often than not, ESPN will take the time to see if you have potential and talent.

Send demo samples that will resonate with the person you’re contacting. If you’re contacting someone in charge of hiring volleyball talent, don’t send basketball. That doesn’t help them. They need to know that you understand the sport.

Make your first shot your best shot.

Barraging executives with links and DVDs and follow-up calls and emails does not necessarily help you make a great impression.

ESPN executives are all very busy. Be mindful that each executive producer is going to reply to the dozens of daily emails they receive from their employees and co-workers before they reply to you. If you don’t hear back right away, stay patient.

3. Be ready for the next step

When you get your five minutes and an ESPN executive producer calls you, be ready for the next step.

The worst thing that happens for those employers is that they request a full game from you and there’s hesitation on your end of the phone. Hesitation conveys two things . . .

  1. That you don’t have confidence in your call.
  2. That you’re not willing to expose your weaknesses.

Be confident. When ESPN is looking for new talent they need to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

ESPN will hire you because of the good. They will keep you because they know they can teach you to fix the bad and the ugly. ESPN works as a team. You’ll be surrounded with professionals who will mentor, teach and groom you. It’s part of what makes them elite.

If you don’t have confidence in your ability, major employers like ESPN won’t have time for you.

Let the employer decide if they think that you have the potential to get better. Then let them help you improve.