A critical sportscasting job market mistake – or is it?

Last week, I received an email from a friend who hires play-by-play talent at ESPN. Several STAA clients had been emailing their demos and resumes to various executive producers at the World Wide Leader. My friend advised me to tell our clients to “stay in their lane. They shouldn’t be sending material to ESPN until they think they are ready for national television.”

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The advice looks harsh in print but trust me, it was delivered with respect and helpful intent.

I have always preferred STAA clients not apply for jobs for which they aren’t qualified. My reasons are business-related — I’ll explain why in a moment.

The bigger point is that the “stay in your lane” advice is different from what I’d previously heard from another ESPN executive.

The potential value in taking a chance

ESPN Regional Television Producer Meg Aronowitz was a guest speaker last year at STAA’s One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success seminar. Meg is in charge of hiring talent for the network’s coverage of college softball, soccer, volleyball, Olympic sports and multiple NCAA championships. She was asked at the seminar how wise it is for talent to think they’re ready for ESPN before contacting her. She replied, “You’ve got to have the courage and conviction to take the chance.”

Aronowitz added that you can never get your name out there early enough. “You don’t want to harass people but you want to try and network and get your name in the right hands so that people can see the development,” she says. “I assure you that if we see somebody we think has potential, we’re going to go back and keep looking to see that you’ve updated your site (with new demo material) and see what you’re working on.

It’s okay that you may not think that you’re ready to be Dan Shulman. Let us decide if we think you could be Dan Shulman in five years. Have that courage and the conviction to get out there. That means that you believe that you are ready, and that’s part of the biggest thing — believing in yourself.

The value in waiting

As I mentioned earlier, I have never wanted STAA clients to apply for jobs for which they aren’t ready. I don’t want employers becoming frustrated with STAA because they’re annoyed by a handful of clients who are applying for jobs for which they clearly aren’t qualified. I also don’t want to risk having unqualified applicants making STAA’s talent roster seem inferior.

So, should you apply?

Ultimately, you have to weigh the pros and cons of applying for jobs for which you might not be ready.

The pros:

  1. You might be the diamond in the rough that all employers hope to find
  2. The employer might recommend you to another employer

The cons:

  1. If your initial application is inferior, you might always be thought of as not good enough by that employer. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
  2. You risk the employer attaching a negative connotation to your name if they feel you’ve wasted their time.

The bottom line is to be objective about your ability and career.

Your own objectivity is the most valuable gauge of whether your sportscasting job application will be helping or hurting yourself in the long run.

Photo credit: hans s via photopin cc