Resume Reel Guidelines
This page cover the following topics (scroll down to learn more):
- Resume Reel Examples
- Resume Reel Structures for News Reporters
- Sports Reels
- Producing Reels
- Social Media Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Building an E-Portfolio
Resume Reel Examples
To start, here are a few examples from NewsTeam alums
Kylie Bearse (class of 2011) Weather/Reporter Reel
Paul Harris (class of 2011) Resume Reel
Katie LaSalle (Class of 2013) Resume Reel
This is a compilation of Katie's Anchor, Reporter and Weather excerpts
Joanna Small (Class of 2008) Reporter Reel
This reel has some classy standups!
can bring to the table. The following tips apply to the typical resume reel for a reporter position. The structure may vary, but many news directors will accept resumes that contain the basics:
The Resume (Demo) Reel
To get that job, you will need a resume (demo) reel. There are several kinds -- reporter reels, anchor, weather, sports, and even producer reels. You'll get plenty of opportunities in NewsTeam to beef up that reel, which you can then show to prospective employers. In fact, your final assignment this semester will be to produce a demo reel that showcases your best work (which can also include the work you do in internships and elsewhere) and embed it on your own professional website.
As the semester progresses, be sure that you're saving your work, including written materials like scripts, Web stories and rundowns (for producing jobs). Don't wait until the semester is nearly over to start collecting the work you've done; save as you go is the better recommendation.
Here's what prospective employers mostly look for in a reporter's demo reel (disclaimer -- requirements may vary):
- At least four engaging, interactive stand-ups.
- 2 really compelling and visually interesting packages.
- Good writing.
- Originality. News directors want to see enterprising stories. Your job is to dig up stories and new angles on existing stories, not duplicate what other reporters have already done.
- Anchoring clips will not get you a job, but your reporting will. However, most resume reels end with an anchoring montage that lasts 20 to 60 seconds, and also shows some bantering with your co-anchors.
- The length of the entire reel is 6 to 8 minutes tops.
Resume Reel Structures for News Reporters
1) Begin with a slate
The slate has your name, phone number and permanent email address. No need for mailing addresses as they likely change after a shorter period of time.
NOTE: If you upload your resume reel to YouTube or some other public video server, you might want to remove your phone number. Otherwise, you're inviting anyone in the public to ring you up. Instead, list your phone number only on correspondence that reaches the eyes of the news director.
2) Montage (or Round Robin)
The first thing on the resume reel is 45 seconds or so of your best clips – stand-ups, anchoring, weather, etc., but only the BEST. News people will argue about the merits of a montage. But one thing they can all agree on – a resume is not just one big montage. Each clip should be quite brief. For students just getting out of college, the montage length could be at minimum 15 seconds.
News directors look for your on-camera presence under different situations, different stories. But don't overdo it. Use approximately four of your best stand-ups, making sure they are your most compelling, interactive work. The opening montage is your hook that grabs the prospective employer's attention.
That's the average time a news director spends watching any one particular segment of a resume reel. Your best footage goes first.
Good stand-ups include:
- a variety of settings
- the look of confidence on camera
- a combination of hard and soft news
- creativity and innovation
3) Next, insert 2 of your best packages (when applying for a reporting job)
Or, if applying for anchoring positions, you can transition to your best anchor segment, your best weather or best sports. But keep in mind...
Your anchoring will not get you that first job.
Prospective employers will not hire you based solely on your ability to anchor. They want to know if you're a good reporter.
Prospective employers want to know: Can you tell good stories?
- Each package should be different in tone and style. Use at least one hard news story.
- Standard length for packages is from 1 minute to 1:30 (an incentive for keeping them short). Project stories may be about 3 minutes and investigative stories closer to 5 minutes.
- The first package should be what you consider to be your very best.
Be ready for the call that might ask you to submit another story. Always have other packages in reserve. The reel has got to include some hard news. Mostly the news director wants to know if you can cover the lead story, therefore, they’ll need some serious content.
Questions that news directors want to know about your storytelling:
- do you have instincts about writing?
- are the sound bites compelling?
- did you make the story interesting and worthwhile?
As far as packages are concerned it all comes down to whether it’s interesting and engaging. It makes no difference whether the story looks amazing; news directors want to know if you can write in a way that pulls them in to the story.
4) Lastly, include a montage of your anchoring, even if you’re applying for a reporting job.
News directors want to see how you handle anchoring in case you’re needed to fill in. Almost all anchors are also now doing some reporting.
5) End with the slate you started with and then FADE TO BLACK.
These reels are similar to the news reporter reels, but they have a bigger emphasis on live reporting, and sports anchoring. However, news directors are still looking for your ability to tell stories in packages. For sports, it's not all about highlights and game summaries. You need to show that you can tell an original story, the stories that you don't often find on TV. One guaranteed way to make a good impression to a prospective employer is to show that you can tell stories no one else is doing. Even as a sports reporter, your job is to dig up stories.
This structure is a bit more mysterious. It’s hard for news directors to gauge all you’ve done on a show. Regardless what you send them, make it look good. Send something that’s watchable. News directors will often ask:
- How does the newscast begin?
- Did you do anything clever or innovative?
- Is it clean?
- Is the writing good?
Make sure the writing is clear, conversational and accurate. It's common to submit an entire A block for a reel. This block shows news directors what stories you picked as the top stories, how you covered breaking news, the transitions between stories, and also the tease.
A few more thoughts about putting a resume reel together...
- Ask yourself what skills you’re willing to master.
- The more you can do the better.
- News directors are impressed with stories that required you to dig for information, that took some work. That’s what gets their attention.
- The way you speak, your rhythm, ability to use your face are considered, but above all it’s the quality of your story that matters most.
News directors want to know that you've been active on several social media platforms. Show them that the content you produce is engaging and informative. If all you do is Tweet messages that say, "1 minute to NewsTeam," then you're likely going to be skipped over in the job application process.
Ten FREE things that ALL journalism students
should be doing right now
1. Google Profile: Everyone should have a Google Profile. This is the first thing that shows up in a Google Search of your name. You want to make sure you have a professional picture and description of your self. This is important because companies do Google your name and you want to make a good first impression.
2. LinkedIn: This is also something that shows up very high in a Google search. Students should make sure to have 100 percent of their profile filled out. Most journalism companies are now checking your LinkedIn before you are hired. Try to connect with journalists who fit your interests, past employers, teachers, and your peers.
3. Facebook Page: Almost everyone has a Facebook Profile but not everyone has a Facebook Page. This was once only for celebrities and entertainment but now anyone can make a page. You can use this page to collect and post links to all of your stories and work that you create. Try to start building an audience of people who ‘like’ your page and follow your stories. Make sure to mark yourself as a “Journalist” and use a recognizable picture of yourself.
4. Twitter: A must have for a journalist! You should be following reporters and media that relate to the type of ‘brand’ you are trying to create for yourself.
o You should be engaging in discussions with them by re-tweeting and adding intelligent comments.
o DO NOT just hit the automatic re-tweet button! This gets annoying for your followers and makes it difficult for the original tweeter to identify you.
o Use the manual RT method when re-tweeting. Example: (Your Comments) RT: @john_smith (original tweet)
o You should always have a hash tag, link, or picture with EVERY tweet to lead your followers to content. The more ‘blue’ links the better!
o Share your own content and stories through twitter!
o Try live tweeting an event
o Start building followers with the content you tweet
o Make sure your avatar picture is very clear that it is you
o Your Twitter handle (name) should be very short and clear that it is you
5. Google+: Journalists and Technology professionals are the main users of this social media site. Make a professional account and add these people to your ‘circles.’ This is just another way to spread your work and connect with potential employers.
6. Wordpress: Create your own professional blog to showcase your work and post your resume. Make sure you put the link to your website in all of your other social media websites and resume.
7. Foursquare: This comes in handy for when you are covering an event and you want to see whom else ‘checked in’ to your specific location. You could then contact them and ask for a potential interview or make a professional connection.
8. YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Dailybooth, Soundcloud: These are all great sites to post your video, photo, and audio projects. You can then embed them to your other social media sites and your personal home page.
9. Tweetdeck, Hootsuite: Feeling overwhelmed with all these social media sites? These websites allow you to control multiple social media platforms all at once.
10. Flavors, Aboutme: These sites are fun to play with and allow you to personalize and create your own ‘online profile.’
Posting Your Resume Reel Video
Talent Dynamics is a company that has the most sophisticated digital library and database in the industry to provide clients with video clips of on-air newscast personnel. For three decades, Talent Dynamics has been the number one resource for networks and local television stations when they have questions or need information about qualified broadcasters.
You can also use Talent Dynamics to search for job openings in the broadcast profession or for talent coaching.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I use dissolves or other fancy transitions between segments in my resume reel?
A: Within your montage, straight cuts are preferred. You can use a straight cut or a dissolve going into the packages. But fancy transitions don’t impress. The golden rule is to keep it simple and straightforward. What will impress a news director most is your on-camera presence and ability to tell a story.
Q: Is it OK to call the news director and ask if they saw your reel?
A: Best not to call out of the blue. If it says “no phone calls” then don’t call. To call or not to call depends on the relationship you have with the station. Rather than calling a news director you don’t know, do some networking.
Q: Is the competition harsh?
A: Yes, so relationship building is important especially among your classmates. Your reputation goes wherever you’ve been. Do your best to have a good batting average, even while you're in school. News directors will check references, and they might even have already hired some CU alums who know you. If an applicant is considered difficult to work with, needy and arrogant, then what’s the point in hiring them?
Q: What’s the average length of a resume?
A: It varies, but the maximum length should be 10 minutes. If it’s only 5 minutes, then news directors might think you didn’t do enough.
Q: Should I know Web design skills and multimedia production?
A: Knowledge of Web design is a plus. If you have a knack for it and know what looks good, then you’re in good shape. There are more jobs in television having to do with the Internet. Media outlets are dying for video to put on their websites. The question is whether they’ll prefer long-format or 8-second clips?
Q: Should I send my resume reel just to small markets?
A: Usually, larger markets require at least 2 years of experience. Therefore, it’s better to start small and work your way up. Build your skills in a smaller market, getting most of your mistakes out of your system. But it’s important that you enjoy the work now. The rewards will follow later.
Building Your Website Portfolio
Your website MUST BE PROFESSIONAL with no personal photographs or stories that are not relevant to getting the job. News directors could care less what you do on weekends or that you won a beauty contest or that you’re the best baseball player on your team.
On the homepage: your most pertinent information should be clearly visible. Don’t force the news director to click away from the homepage to see your work. The news director should only click to something else if they want to learn more about you and your work.
The homepage should be the equivalent of “one-stop shopping”
- Your name and contact info
- Use only professional head shots (a screen grab from a show is OK, depending on the lighting).
- a summary of your qualifications – keep it brief
- your resume reel itself embedded onto the page
- navigation menu with additional items that include a printable CV, writing samples and additional video examples as long as they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Sending a Cover Letter
Always include your Web address and a business card that displays a the Web address. Make it very easy for them to “see you” online.