|Writing a Great Cover Letter|
Did you know that many entry-level positions in the television industry are not advertised? One of the best ways to create an opportunity for employment is to create it yourself. This can be done through proactive and persistent effort, and being flexible with regard to your goals and objectives.
Although it takes a bit more effort and a good deal of homework, sending a winning cover letter along with your resume to potential contacts and perspective employers may just be the trick to landing that dream job.
The goal is capture the attention of the busy executive or Human Resources director by being unique and creative, quick and to the point. Above all, avoid bulk mailings and form letters, and take the time to make each interaction distinctive.
If you want to work in production, for example, start by making a list of all of the production companies you’d like to work for. The NATPE Directory is a great place to start, and provides relevant contact details, too. Check out company websites, do keyword searches of the websites of various trade publications like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety and if at all possible, try to speak with current employees. You can also check out the companies online at Hoovers.com and/or Monster.com or Google them to see what else is being said about these companies.
Once you’ve done your homework, try to identify the companies’ areas of need with skills and talents you have to offer. For example, if you know a production company is in pre-production on a documentary series focusing on garden pests and you minored in Entomology, play it up! Remember, there may be dozens of people sending resumes to that one production company, so the more you can distinguish yourself, the better.
Among the key tips to creating a winning cover letter are:
* Keep the style of your letter simple and similar to your resume style.
* Use formal salutations, such as Dear Ms. Jones and try to avoid the standard Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern. If you don’t know the name of the Human Resources executive or other appropriate individual, call the company and ask. The letter should be formal but friendly, but not chummy. After all, this could be your new boss.
* Times is money in production and you should demonstrate your knowledge of this by clearly stating the purpose of your letter (seeking a position of employment) and, if there is a specific position you are applying for, name it. If you’re hoping to create an opportunity, state that as well, and be sure to include the attributes and skills that make you a top candidate for the company. This should all be accomplished in the opening paragraph of your letter.
* The body of your letter is your sales pitch. Be upbeat, positive and enthusiastic but also be brief. Outline why this person should take the time to interview you. Specifically, tell them what you can do for them rather than what you want from them. Try to incorporate at least three selling points that demonstrate your motivation, determination and follow-through and substantiate that with a brief work history, including relevant internships and volunteer work.
* The final paragraph of the letter should convey your interest in meeting the person for an interview. Give them a specific date on which you will call to confirm receipt of your resume and discuss the possibility of an interview. Then thank the person for their time and consideration and close your letter with either a Sincerely or Respectfully and your first and last name.