Career Q+A: Conflict of interest, A new

As seen in Cynopsis Classified Advantage
Questions from our Readers
Answered by Michael Pollock


Can I have clients on the side?
Q: There is a vague HR policy regarding conflict of interest in terms of doing work on the side. I’ve dreamed of working as an independent for years but since I work full time for this Public TV station I cannot work on developing clients. Now that rumors are indicating layoffs, am I justified to pursue my own clients?

A: If you have signed on to a conflict of interest policy either explicitly or implicitly then you should clear any side gigs with the HR folk.  You don’t want them coming after you later, or calling your clients, who being risk averse would probably walk away.  If your side clients would not be a conflict then your station should not be bothered by this as long as they are getting the usual 110% of your attention for the job they are still paying you for.

However does simply developing clients fall under the policy?  If you are not yet actually working for them and you are not compromising an opportunity for your station, it may not be an issue and you may not need to raise any flags yet – this depends of course on the specifics of the policy your company has in place.

One other thing – it sounds as if you are expecting to be a casualty of the layoffs.  What if you went to your management and said “I know you are going to have to lay people off – would you consider offering a sweeter retirement package if I went voluntarily?”  This might be attractive to them as it could save them costs and potential liabilities and litigation.  Just a thought.

How to get out of the media business
I have been thinking about getting out of the media business all together and starting over, which is not easy but may be necessary if the video business doesn’t pan out. How do I create a cover letter that acknowledges my exclusive experience in video while communicating that those skills do translate in to other fields?

A: You should start by carefully researching the field you want to enter and look at jobs available and the way they are described.  Then review all your work history and other experience through the eyes of someone hiring for these positions.

For this exercise strip away the overarching “broadcast/video” words and see what else there is.  Some examples might be project management, operations, food, sports, history, global, crisis management, PR, advertising, sales, technology etc.

See which niches and experiences relate to the new target business and describe your experience accordingly.   You should say clearly why you are excited to bring these valuable skills to the new field  this would the way to frame your approach.