I’ll admit that the topic of cover letters probably isn’t going to set your world on fire…but that being said, they are still pretty important and when you’re going in cold, it can be the difference to your CV getting looked at or your email being filed straight to the delete folder.
TV cover letters are not like traditional cover letters you may have been taught in school and it’s not always easy when you’re starting out to know the best approach, so I’ve put together some tips to get you on track in your TV career.
1. COVER LETTER = EMAIL
In TV, your cover letter is essentially an email – never attach a cover letter in document form. Attaching your cover letter as a document creates an extra step in the process for a production manager, so make life easy for everyone and just type your cover letter straight into your email.
2. CREATE A CLEAR AND SEARCHABLE EMAIL TITLE
The title of your email should state your name and your job title ie. Sally Smith – Production Runner (if you are new in TV, your job title is runner). This is the best way to make your details easy to find if a PM is searching key terms in their inbox.
3. START IT RIGHT
Avoid using salutations like “Dear” as it doesn’t really translate to email. Never use “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” – those phrases are very old school and feels very out of place in TV.
I always find the best way to start a job email is: “Hi (insert their name),” (not exactly ground-breaking but still worth noting). Ideally, you will have the name of the person you are writing to, if you don’t then a simple “Hi,” will be fine.
4. SPECIFY YOUR KEY SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE BUT DON’T OVERDO IT
When you introduce yourself, it’s always good to highlight your most recent experience and some key skills you have – essentially, think about what value you can add to a team. Don’t over do it…most of this information will be in your CV but include anything that will make a production manager want to open that CV to find out more!
5. BE PROFESSIONAL BUT AVOID OVERLY FORMAL LANGUAGE
Your cover letter is an email so it’s typical to have a less formal approach than a traditional cover letter. It’s important you still keep your email professional but don’t try too hard with corporate jargon.
6. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Before you contact a production company, you should do your research. A quick look atthe company website will give you an understanding of what shows they produce (if you don’t already know) and will help you to tailor your email to show that you have taken a specific interest in the role/company.
7. TAILOR IT
Speaking of tailoring your cover letter, make sure you do! Copy and pasting emails is never a good look and it can be very obvious if you’ve just flicked through a generic cover letter. If you know the name of the person you are emailing (especially if it’s in their email address) then address them by it, refer to the company by name and detail why you are getting in touch and what interests you about working for the specific company. Be genuine (don’t lie about LOVING their shows if you’ve never watched any) and just demonstrate that this is not just any old job to you.
8. STATE YOUR LOCATION AND AVAILABILITY
Always flag the city you’re based in and your availability so the PM knows immediately whether your timings and location suit the productions they are crewing. If you’re happy to relocate, then that’s also worth mentioning.
9. AVOID IRRELEVANT DETAILS
Your cover letter should be brief – there’s no need to spend time detailing your personal interests if they are not relevant to the job you are applying to. Unless you’re applying for a runner role on a nature documentary, then your passion for bird-watching is probably not worth mentioning.
10. SPELL AND GRAMMAR CHECK
I can’t stress enough…proof your email before you send it! If spelling and grammar is not your thing, then ask someone else to run their eyes over it for you. There’s nothing worse than when someone spells the name of a person wrong in an email when their name is in the email address…and whatever you do, make sure you spell the name of the company correctly!
Well, if you’ve got this far in my post, you obviously care about getting your cover letter right! Good luck with your next application!
If you’re interested in finding out tips for writing your CV, then you can check out my blog post 10 Tips For Writing Your CV For TV That Will Set You Apart and check out CV Template For TV: Entry-Level Roles.