5 nuggets for veteran sportscasting job seekers

“ESPN and Fox are hiring much younger these days.” That is one frustration shared with me by a long-time play-by-play broadcaster. Another veteran who is struggling to find work laments that sportscasting “is a young man’s game now.”

veteran sportscasting

For these sportscasters, both in their late 40s to early 50s, age has become the biggest challenge to advancing their careers. “Being cast as an ‘old school’ broadcaster is probably a detriment,” says one of them.

If your perception is that it is harder for older sportscasters to find work, your feeling is accurate. It IS harder. However, understanding employers’ trepidation about hiring older voices can help you better present yourself in the job market.
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3 keys to selling yourself in your cover letter

Are you sending a form letter with your sportscasting job applications? If your answer is yes, stop it immediately.

3 cover letter keys

If an employer is reading cover letters, your form letter will not get you the job. Instead, invest the time to customize your letters and dramatically increase your chances of receiving a favorable reply.

Here are three keys to successfully selling yourself in your cover letter:
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Minor league broadcasters might be getting a raise

“Overworked, underpaid” is a common lament for broadcasters in minor league sports who double as their team’s media relations director. In-season, 40 hour work weeks are the exception rather than the rule, and small salaries make it hard to pay the bills.

minor league raise

Good news might be on the immediate horizon.

Thanks to a new law going into effect in December, salaried workers earning less than $47,476 will qualify for overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week.
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One guy’s awesome reply to not getting a job interview

A friend of mine recently applied for a sportscasting job for which he thought he was a perfect candidate. He had the necessary experience and ability, and he knew the market inside and out.

not getting job interview

He didn’t even get an interview.

I share this story with you because his response to the disappointment was awesome. He didn’t gripe about bad luck, being treated unfairly, or about how the employer didn’t appreciate his ability. He said, “Sometimes it’s difficult around here having to do every aspect of the job while working a few other places at the same time, but one day it will pay off.”

How awesome is that? “One day it will pay off.”

I shared a story with my friend about when I was at a similar place in my own sportscasting career. I was working several side jobs around my primary gig at XTRA Sports 690 in San Diego in order to pay the bills. After five years, the payoff was getting my own show on ESPN Radio Network.

In sportscasting, the guys who get to the top aren’t always the most talented. They are the ones who persevered.

I told my friend, “Keep doing your best. Your payoff is coming.”

Are Your Reference Calls Killing Your Candidacy?

Recently, I received a call from an employer who wanted to vent. He was deep into the process of hiring a broadcaster and even had a clear-cut favorite. However that favorite was starting to heavily annoy the employer because of all the references he had calling on his behalf.

reference calls

Another time, the director of broadcasting for an NFL team shared with me a similar story. He was being inundated with calls from references on behalf of a particular applicant. Again, it was becoming annoying. That employer told me that one or two calls from credible references could certainly help a person’s candidacy. Any more than that, though, can quickly become counterproductive.
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The clever line that got one guy an NBA radio job

Many years ago, a college basketball and minor league baseball broadcaster learned that an NBA team was seeking a new radio voice. He quickly assembled his demo and resume package and sent it off to the team. Days later, he received a reply, “Thank you, but the application period has closed and we’re already down to our finalists.”

nba radio job

At this point, what would you do if you were this broadcaster?
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Why working hard isn’t enough in the sportscasting job market

When University of Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner was a high school senior, he mailed letters to every NCAA Division I basketball coach. He wanted to be a coach and he was looking for a program that would accept him as a player/coach-in-training. He heard back from just a small handful of folks, but one of them was Lute Olson at the University of Arizona. Pastner went to Tucson, spent four years as an end-of-the-bench player, became a graduate assistant, and the rest is history.

work smarter in the sports broadcasting job market

A lot of sports broadcasters approach the job market much like Pastner approached looking for a school. They send demos and resumes to countless employers hoping to hear back from someone. What works for aspiring basketball coaches, though, almost never works for sportscasters.

You might be working hard in the sports broadcasting job market, but are you working smart?

There is a BIG difference.

Working hard is…

Sending your demo, resume and a form letter to 50 different employers and hoping that someone gets back to you.

Working smart is…

  • Targeting a manageable list of 15 or 20 employers
  • Customizing your cover letters based on your research of each employer
  • Crafting customized demos when appropriate (This is critical when applying for sports talk host and update anchor jobs outside your market).
  • Following-up consistently and creatively with each employer.
  • Building relationships with people who can help you with your search.

Working smart requires considerably more time and effort. That is why the payoff is often great for the people who do it.

Top tips on applying for big-time play-by-play jobs

2016 will be the best year in the past ten for big-time play-by-play jobs. The Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers have all hired new broadcasters.

play-by-play jobs

Applications are already being accepting for the University of Kansas position being vacated by the retiring Bob Davis. Starting today and over the coming weeks, four more DI schools will be using STAA to receive applications for their radio jobs.

How do you put your best foot forward when applying for these positions?

I have posed that question to the directors of broadcasting of NFL, NBA, MLB and major college teams.

Here are their top tips for your demo, resume, cover letter, and more:
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