Top 5 Cover Letter Tips for Landing Your Next Gig

Posted on: Feb 22, 2020

A production worker in a flannel shirt writing her cover letter on her laptop.Photo Credit: Yaroslav Astakhov /

When trying to land a job in television or film production, your cover letter could be your saving grace. You might have the experience and the know-how, but without a well-crafted cover letter the employer might not take a second look at your credentials. Before you hit send, run down this checklist of tips to make sure your cover letter will actually get read so that you stand out to the person hiring.

1. Use spell check, twice!

This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often a typo or spacing issue pops up in a cover letter. As a rule of thumb, make sure you’ve hit spell check on your cover letter after you’ve finalized it, fix any changes you might need to make, and spellcheck again just for peace of mind. You can also save yourself some time by using tools like Grammarly when reviewing your work for potential errors.

2. Write for the job you are applying to, not the one you want

In your cover letter, you tell the person interviewing you that you want the very job you’re applying for, not the job one level up. For example, if you’re applying to be an assistant, talk about how good you’ll be at assisting, not how you want to direct or how your college film won an award.

One HR professional told us an applicant Associate Producer/Booker applicant listed his collection of Canon lenses in his cover letter. He also recalled a time when someone applying to be an assistant editor talked about how many films he’d cut when the job needed someone good at digitizing and media management who could work overnight. All the hiring manager wanted to hear was that this applicant was good at the job itself and liked coffee. When your talking points stray from the actual job you applied to, this tells a company you actually want a different job than the one they need filled.

3. Keep it short

You should be able to say everything that you need to say in under two paragraphs. When a hiring manager looks at your cover letter they’re interested in your relevant job experience, what you can bring to the gig, and maybe some references. The production world is busy and not everyone has time to read hundreds of long cover letters. One quick glance will tell the line producer if they have time to even read your cover letter, so make it short and sweet.

4. Show your personality

Production jobs are supposed to be fun, and your cover letter should reflect that. The person reading your cover letter doesn’t want something that reads like the technical manual for your new air conditioner – that’s what your resume is for. Give your cover letter some oomph if you want to be considered and make sure your personality shines. In an industry that is based on networking, showing your personality helps employers gauge if you will work well with their team.

5. Use language from the job post

If the job description requests that you have a car, let them know that you have a car. If the job description states that the gig is for a local candidate, then tell them that you can work as a local. If the post says that they are looking for an “organized self-starter,” explain to them that you are the “organized self-starter” that they are looking for in your cover letter. The biggest complaint that we hear is that the majority of applicants don’t seem to have even read the description of the job they are actually applying for.

An even bigger point to make: be honest when stating these things in your cover letter. Going back to the job that requires you to have a car, don’t apply or tell them you have a car when you really don’t. They’ll find out, and not only will you not get the job, it will damage your reputation in this network-based industry.

Cover letters can be a tricky thing, but we’ve provided some arrows for your job hunting quiver so that they don’t have to be any longer. To recap, the five cover letter tips that will help you the most can be summed up as follows:

  1. Double tap your spell check.
  2. Cater your cover letter for the job you’re applying to.
  3. Keep it to two paragraphs or less.
  4. Show your personality in your cover letter.
  5. Use language from the job post in your cover letter.

Apply all five of these cover letter tips in your job search, and you’ll be crewing someone’s project in no time!

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