Writing an Impactful Cover Letter

How to write a cover letter for entertainment industry jobs

No one decides to get into the entertainment industry because it’s boring. After the utilitarian safety of your resume, your cover letter is your chance to show you have a personality — and that you’re exactly the right person for the job.

You don’t have a lot of time, and you’re probably in competition with dozens, if not hundreds of other applicants, so you’ve got to make your cover letter stand out — quickly. From formatting to your sign off, use these cover letter writing tips to give yourself the best chance of landing that interview.

Formatting your cover letter

Where many resumes are read by computers, cover letters are usually read by a human. This is good! But remember, computers don’t get tired, humans do. So keep it short and to the point — three to four paragraphs and always a single page. No fancy colors. No images or graphics. Keep the paragraphs short and utilize white space. Respect those tired eyes.

And always, always, always make sure your single page is fully error-free. They’re looking for reasons to thin the ranks - sloppy editing gives them an easy pass.

Make each cover letter unique

While you may have a standard resume or two that you tweak for each job, each cover letter you write (Every. Single. One.) should be specifically tailored to the job and the company offering that job. Always use the company’s name, preferably in the first paragraph. Do some research (LinkedIn and the company’s site are good places to start) to find out who the hiring manager might be and use their name in your greeting.

Even if you know next to nothing about the company (other than the fact that they have a job opening) take a minute to research them. See if they’ve worked on a project you’ve seen or heard of. Scan their website for a technique, culture, or way of working that appeals to you, then mention that. Everyone enjoys a compliment and if you can demonstrate knowledge of the company, it will set you apart from people spamming the city with anonymous pleas for a job.

Make it clear

Just like a resume, you have mere seconds to impress. Make it very clear that you have the experience and skills they need. Go through the job description and identify which of their needs seems most important, then reiterate how you fill those needs with your experience or schooling. It doesn’t hurt to be direct, “I see you need X, which I can do because of X.”

If you don’t have a certain experience because you’re trying to shift into a new role or you’re just starting out, talk about the skills you do possess that will help you do the job they need.

Explain any red flags

Is there anything in your resume that would raise a question? Now’s your chance to explain. If you had a large gap in employment, you can say why. If your address says you live in Poughkeepsie, but you’re moving to Burbank in two weeks, say so. Or if you’re aiming for a production job but you’ve been in casting for three years, explain the shift.

Show a little personality

The cover letter should be the best representation of you. It’s okay to not sound like a textbook. You can include a brief anecdote, maybe about your journey to the entertainment industry or perhaps a particular accomplishment you’re proud of. As long as it relates to your passion for the job at hand, a brief (brief) story can help make your cover letter unique.

As for your greeting, instead of the terrible “To whom it may concern” or “Dear sir or madam” you can say:

  • Hello Ms. X, (because you used your internet skills to find the hiring manager)
  • Hello News Producer search team,
  • Hello KTLA-TV hiring team,

Your sign off should anticipate a next step: instead of the obvious “I look forward to hearing from you” you can say:

  • I’m excited to talk to you about becoming your newest production assistant.
  • I can’t wait to show you how I can help your animation department run smoother than ever.
  • I’m ready to show how I can make life easier for your marketing team.

A cover letter is almost as much about the people hiring you as it is about you. Show you understand that they need a person who can make their lives easier, who will make their organization more successful. And tell them why you - unique, individual you - are the best person for that job.