It’s resume tape season, so I thought it might be helpful to share some of my thoughts on what makes a great resume tape. You might talk to a dozen news directors on what makes a great tape, and get several different responses back, but I think there are some fundamentals that most can agree on. The problem is that the basics of tape building aren’t taught in many meteorology programs, so most students end up dumping whatever material they have onto a ten minute clip and expect to get a job.
You might be a great broadcast meteorologist, but if your tape stinks, it might be hard for a news director to see that. They will go through dozens of tapes to find the right met for the position, so you need to grab their attention quickly and hold it long enough to show them what you can do. We spend a lot of time in our class these days talking about putting together great tapes. Here are a couple of suggestions that might help you out.
Put your best ten seconds right at the start of your tape. Most tapes start with some sort of montage, and the montage should start with your best ten seconds. Not only do you have to sound good, but you really need to look good too. These are the precious moments where a news director is creating a first impression of you. If the tape quality is poor, or the lighting or graphics or make-up aren’t very good, they are not going to get an accurate, or positive impression of who you are. Sometimes I suggest that if your campus station is really bad, here is where you might put in six to eight seconds of internship tape. Performance-wise, this clip should be as close to the ideal you on camera as you can show. Make them want to watch more.
Use the rest of your montage to show them you are versatile. Show the news director you’ve been busy. After your best ten seconds, spend the next sixty to ninety seconds showing six to eight second clips of everything else. Hopefully you have a variety of things saved up at this point. If you start with an outside shot, go next into something at the wall, then some anchor chat at the desk and maybe then something interesting somewhere else. Try to keep things moving around. Outfits should change and the weather you are talking about should change too. Anchor chat is great if you have it. It gives the news director a little more insight into who you are as a person. Talking to anchors at the desk hopefully gives you a chance to be a little more conversational, whether it be to warn of slippery roads, or promote the big parade this weekend. If you don’t have co-anchors or field equipment at your school, then at least show a range of weather on different days in front of the chroma-key wall. Show that you can handle severe weather with cool concern and then lighter, brighter days with more personality.
Include your best full weather show from start to finish. If the news director makes it all the way through your first minute or two and hasn’t stopped watching, you’re doing well. The problem with montages is that anyone can edit pretty much anything down and make it look good. What you need to do now is show that you can make it through an entire weather hit without flopping. Hopefully you have something close to a three-minute hit where you can go from currents all the way through the extended forecast, and make it look great. Show them that you can tell a good weather story, offer some insight into the forecast and truly connect with the people you are talking to. Find the best weather hit you have, and include it here. Be sure that nothing from this great show is already included in the montage. It should be all fresh material here.
That should be a good start. Everybody ends up with something a little different depending on what you have available and what you are good at. The bottom line is to show your strengths. If you are graduating in May, now is the time to start putting these tapes together. Once you are in your first job, your tape will likely become a constant work in progress, always evolving as your skills grow and continue to improve.
If you have a tape of your own that you’d like me to take a quick look at, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.