Production and Editing Internship Cover Letter Advice
I am currently a college senior struggling to create an attention grabbing cover letter. This is my first time creating one and every where I look online says something different.
I am majoring in television production and concentrating on the producing/post production aspects of it. I am applying to an internship at NFL films for the spring. The online info about the position says not to emphasize on sports knowledge and to focus on what skills we have and how we can help
Im wondering if anyone has any advice on one or the following:
1) what goes into each paragraph?
2) what to emphasize
3) how to reference your resume but not repeat it
4) any other tips in relation to cover letters/resume
I think I've written about this before on the COW, but I'll repeat myself. I've had great luck helping others write winning cover letters. My style is a little old, but solid.
A good cover letter is an ad for taking the time to look deeper at the candidate and their resume. It's the first taste they get of any "personality" that comes thru in your written "voice". You need to make a flash impression that's unique, attractive, but not obnoxious, you emphasize that you meet their qualifications, and then you close the sale by emphasizing the resume for details and arranging to meet for the interview. Always ask for the interview, and always demonstrate good manners. If you say you will call, be specific as to the time and date, and make the call as promised, no matter what. After the interview, ALWAYS send a short, polite thank-you note, thanking them for the time and opportunity to meet (mentioning the specific opening you met to discuss), and again offering additional information if they need it.
These days, at any large business, the first level of filters your correspondence and application go thru is typically a robot or computer program designed to scan for keywords and score you for how many of those keywords you had, and deducting from that score for obvious errors in spelling or grammar or even sometimes grade level of the language you used. Only then does a passing grade get forwarded to a human. But in smaller outfits, the human touch is still in vogue, so you're aiming to please both human reader and machine readers. No cutesy fonts or oddball stationary or paper colors. Overly weird formatting on the page may translate thru the machine into a jumble. Next stop, trash can. I can't over-stress how VITAL it is that you spell and grammar-check everything, and have a human look it over before you send it. As far as keywords, you want to up your "SEO" in the resume and cover letter by making sure that if they ask for a specific brand name in their ads, you mention it on your response. If they are asking for an Avid editor, for example, By Golly, you had better specifically mention Avid, by name, and more than once. Follow any instructions you were given, TO THE LETTER. I immediately reject anybody who can't follow instructions from the beginning.
In case people still file hard copies or scans, format your cover letter like a regular business letter; Your name and address/contact info, top flush right. The intended recipient's name, title, and address, flush left and lower than your name and address. Use plenty of white space for margins and top and bottom. The four paragraphs should sit right about the center of the page, single-spaced or 1.5 spaces max. Indenting the first sentence of the paragraphs is up to you, but be consistent.
A heading/topic slug goes either under your address or after theirs, or best, across the very top, left-hand side, first thing a scanning eye or old fashioned file-drawer user will read, small type:
"Re: June 14th Sports Camera Operator opening"
I keep it to a greeting line, and four paragraphs, and a closing. The paragraphs should not really go longer than 5 sentences, unless the info is really important, and everything in the paragraph needs to relate somehow to the opening sentence of that paragraph... or you are making another paragraph! A paragraph needs a premise sentence, a couple of lines to back that up and detail it, and a conclusion sentence, and it should cover one organized thought.
Paragraph one briefly restates which specific job you're looking to apply for. I urge you to customize EVERY resume and cover letter you send to be as job-specific as possible. Paragraph one goes on to state that you think you're a good fit because you meet or exceed so many of the specific stated requirements. And/or, if you lack obvious qualifications, you begin here to make a case that you have something special to offer, that they may not have considered until now.
You should write in an "active voice", not passive. Google those and know the difference.
(you use the actual name, because you show you bothered to research that in this day and age, instead of making it an anonymous "to whom it may concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam". On the off chance you just can't get a specific name, flatter the reader by giving them a promotion to "Dear Human Resources Executive". (Or something like that)
"As a qualified sports videographer, I think you'll be happy to see my enclosed resume for the camera operator opening advertised in (place and date). In it, you'll see I am a close match to your stated requirements, having operated the same cameras you use, but I also offer additional, complimentary skills to that job."
Paragraph two details just a few of your best highlights from the resume.
"In particular, my work for the (school name) sports department, not only covered football: I have equal skill in covering soccer, baseball, basketball, and doing detailed, biomedical video photography for sports medicine and training applications in those same sports (see resume).
Paragraph three expands a bit on your best skills and again calls attention to the resume for more detail. If you've done research on the target, here is where you might add a reference as to how hiring you can help their goals. Let's say you know this is an expansion team building up their in-house Av staff, and they probably need a lot of "jack of all trades" types to cover a variety of needs. You tailor paragraph three to sell that idea back to them.
"Besides my extensive experience in live sports photography for TV and the web, my resume shows I am also well-versed in several different video editing systems and sports post-production, with an emphasis on building attractive and complex graphics and stats screens for broadcast as well as stadium audience presentation. That makes me what they call a "triple-threat": I have the skill sets of three staffers in one, ready to accommodate a variety of your athletic video needs.
Paragraph four wraps up and ASKS FOR THE MEETING.
I would like to arrange to meet with you at your convenience, to have a chance to learn more about your needs, and to see how I might best fit into your team. Since your ad asked that people not call, my contact information is instead attached on this letter and the resume. I'm available to meet any time you'd like this week. References and links to an online portfolio of my work are available upon request. I can bring them to you whenever you'd like to meet.
(phone number again, why not, capitalize on their impulse)
That is how I would still do it, if I were doing one for myself.
My advice...make sure it is Waaaaayyyyyy shorter than Mark's reply.
In this business I look at a reel and not so much the letter. So it depends on who you are reaching out to. I like less formal, well laid out and abbreviated cover letters....especially if they add that they looked at most of our work and liked what they saw! : )
Sound like you are familiar with who you are writing to, which means no boiler plate copy!
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
[Rich Rubasch] "...make sure it is Waaaaayyyyyy shorter than Mark's reply."
Well that's just good advice all 'round... for almost anything.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Go ahead and roast me: I can take it.
I speed read cover letters/emails looking for bullet points of skills that I would find useable for my productions. If I see a lot of copy then I have to search for your benefits, so definitely get to the point with bullets. Such as:
• Detailed note taker.
• Download and manage media on location.
• Strong editor with Premier and FCPX.
• Basic make up & hair skills.
• Own large SUV for prop transport.
• Experienced with craft services that keep the crew happy.
• Can operate teleprompter.
Remember this cruel fact of after college adulthood: No one cares about you. The recipient only cares what you can do for them, their operation, in terms of saving them money, making them look good, impressing the client, being efficient, etc. So in sum, keep all the details about you such as GPA, charity work, etc. to a minimum and laden the cover letter and resume with benefits to them.
Everything else is filler. Keep the paragraphs short. This is not your average industry, it's creative, so be creative with your pitching materials.
I personally use only freelancers so if a cover letter implies that the person is looking for a staff job I immediately throw it out. Shot themselves in the foot.
If you have a friendly phone persona I would suggest using it to your advantage. Often people like yourself will be hired to do a lot of phone work so if the recipient realizes you have a great business phone persona that is a feather in your cap that a paper resume can't get across. Tailor your cover letter specifically to the industry it is addressed to, so if it's sports related the recipient should learn that you live and breathe SPORTS, even if it's an exaggeration. Be extremely careful with grammar, spelling and punctuation in your follow up emails. I look at young people's incoming emails to me and ask myself if I want to have them communicating with my clients.
Lastly, now that you are about to leave academia create a more professional email address with your name in it, separate from your personal/friends email address. Have a real signature in your emails with your cell phone listed so it's easier to call you. Make a very professional, mature sounding OGM. Definitely enclose a business card, even if it's just your name and phone and says Video Production because most people will pitch your paper work yet keep your bc in a pile on their desk. I know that's what I do.
thank you SO much for all of the advice!! Ill let you know if I receive an interview!