How to Write a Cover Letter
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As the old saying goes – behind every great CV is a great cover letter.
Whether you are applying for jobs online or going from production company to production company handing out your CV in person, you ought to have a cover letter to compliment it.
While your CV should be tailored to the position you are applying for - as Will mentioned in his blog post - the purpose of a cover letter is to specifically state why you (and you alone) are qualified for said position. Often the cover letter will be the first thing an employer looks at, so if it’s not up to scratch then odds are they won’t get to your killer CV.
Although there are no set rules for writing a cover letter, here are 3 top tips that I think will serve you well in your journey to a job …
Stay on topic: Nobody cares about your life story. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but remember you are applying for a job here, so you need to clearly lay out why you’d be a good hire. On the flip side though, you shouldn’t list all of your skills one by one (that’s what the CV is for). Instead look at what the job posting specifically asks for and make sure you mention how you tick those boxes.
Show enthusiasm: This applies to your general demeanour - be formal but friendly. Also research the company you are applying to. Production companies receive heaps of job applications, and obviously they are going to gravitate towards people who show a genuine interest in what they produce. Simply saying ‘I love the work of [insert company name here]’ doesn’t cut it. You needn’t go overboard expressing your undying love and admiration, but a line or 2 of real enthusiasm will make a big difference.
Keep it concise: Employers are only human. When they have 100+ applications to get through they aren’t going to have time to read an essay. Really your text should be no more than 300 words max. Therefore, you are going to need to cut out all waffle. I appreciate that this can be tricky when you have so much to say, but believe me it can be done, and your cover letter will be all the punchier for it.
Below is a rough idea of how I’d approach a cover letter:
Dear [name], / To whom it may concern,
I would love to be considered for the position of [position] at [company].
[Short paragraph detailing your relevant skills.]
[Even shorter paragraph expressing your interest in the company’s work.]
[Sign off sentence.]
All the best, and I look forward to hearing from you soon,
But again, there is no one way to write a cover letter. Have a play around with it, and once you’ve got a solid template in place you can modify it for all future job applications. Providing you demonstrate the relevant skills and inject some of your personality into it you’ll be sorted.
Hopefully this post and Will’s are of some use. We know all too well how arduous the job application process can be. But, speaking from experience, a strong CV and cover letter are the foundation of every success story.
Notes from Will – When it comes to shorter term freelance jobs, your cover letter need only be a few sentences long. Simply give a brief outline of your skills and say that you’d love to be involved in the project. Also make sure that you address your cover letter to the right person. If someone called Sean posts the job but the e-mail address says Janet, you need to be writing ‘Dear Janet’ rather than ‘Dear Sean’. Little things like that can trip you up in a big way.