Abi, a student of Media Practise, recently asked me how she should go about moving from being an unpaid work experience in television to a paid runner and whether it was possible to do this whilst at university. It was such a good question I reckoned there’d be many of you out there wondering the same thing. The last article was about the difference between work experience and exploitation but here we concentrate on how you move onto that first paying job in TV.

Basically once you have done a placement or two – assume they amount to around two or more weeks worth – then you are probably ready to start applying for paying jobs as a runner. The work experience should have given you an insight into how the workplace operates and once you have got that experience and know what is expected of you in an entry-level job (I’m assuming a runner position for most of you) then you can start seeing yourself as a credible applicant.

Can you call yourself a Runner?

Do you understand the role of a runner? Has your work experience or college course given you a chance to do a running job? Are you over 18? Do you have common sense? Can you take instructions? If yes to all those then you have the potential to be a runner.

You now need to be confident in selling yourself as a runner and sound like one. You need to be honest about what you have done and don’t take credit for anything you haven’t but when writing your CV you should make any running experience you have had prominent to give yourself a better chance of getting an interview. Have you got a driving licence? If not you will be at a disadvantage but there are running jobs that don’t require it.

How to sell yourself in a CV

Many students naturally put their academic qualifications at the top of their CV. But this is not the most important element for an employer. First they want to know if you can do the job and in particular if you have already done a similar role. So put your work experience up front or better still a simple list of your relevant skills, such as:

  • Experienced in studio running duties (and/or location running)
  • Proficient with Z1 camera
  • Full UK Driving Licence
  • Good office and admin skills
  • Experience of managing TV contestants/contributors
  • CRB checked (useful if you are interested in working with kids)

Those are just some examples. Have a good think about what you are capable of doing and don’t underestimate the value of your skills, whether fluency in a foreign language, a passion for pottery or diploma in crocodile-wrangling (well you never know who might need such skills, now do you?!). Then move on to details of your work experience.

If you have done running duties and you’re thinking and acting like a runner then there is no reason why you should not give yourself that title at the head of your CV:

John Smith – Runner. 

It is simply a clear message to a potential employer of what you are qualified to do and what you are applying for. Say it, think it, believe it and eventually you will be it! I am NOT recommending you lie or exaggerate any part of your CV. I am saying that you should have confidence in what you are capable and qualified to do.

Can you get a Runner Job during college holidays?

There is no reason why you shouldn’t get paid runner work during the university or college holidays if you can find it and it fits in with your dates. Many runner jobs are short contracts, some of them even a few days. As long as the dates of a job are within your holidays and you can finish the contract then you should apply. Never suggest you are available for longer than you are. Letting down a production is not a good idea!

In the holidays you should see yourself as a runner first and a student second! And don’t forget that payment for a runner job should be at least the minimum wage.

If you think an employer will be put off by the fact that you are still studying then you don’t need to highlight that in your application but you should explain the situation if you get to an interview. Getting an interview is really your first goal. You then hope they will fall for your charm, intelligence, personality and obvious qualifications!

So don’t hang around – look for those runner jobs and apply for them. Even if they say no you are getting experience applying for jobs and you can always ask them for feedback if you don’t get a job – a simple explanation of why you didn’t get the job. Mostly it will be lack of experience but someone has to give a runner their first job sometime!

Coming up soon, more advice on finding work experience, a very entertaining account of working with a ‘challenging’ boss and much more! Don’t miss a word of it – subscribe now to get articles direct to your inbox.


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