Home > Breaking In, Writing > Breaking In: Perfect to the Letter

Breaking In: Perfect to the Letter

A short blog topic today, but one that apparently needs to be written. I can’t say the number of applicants I’ve dealt with that should have read this blog, but there are a lot.

When you are trying to break into the industry, I’m dealing with film and television even though this rule applies to every industry, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Thanks to this, most people will show up for their interview in clothes far nicer than they would normally wear, and on far better behavior than they would normally display. That’s all fine and good, but that is not your first impression.

Trust me, your first impression is far before that and, if you mess that up, you’ll never get to the interview stage. Your first impression comes when you submit your resume, spec script, treatment, or anything to your potential employer. But that’s not even the document that makes your first impression! The first impression comes directly from your cover letter.

Because of this, there are a few rules you need to follow when writing a cover letter. They are as follows:

1) When talking about yourself, even if your cover letter is an email, the correct spelling is ‘I’ and not ‘i.’

This seems to be a growing concern in cover letters I read. Communication is becoming more casual as it becomes more accessible, and I’m fine with that. But if you are submitting a professional portfolio, this is the first sign that I shouldn’t call you back.

2) Every word needs to have a space before and after it.

I recently read a letter with not one, not two, but three instances of this. Seriously, you need to make sure to space your letter properly, which leads to…

3) Proof read your letter.

Sounds simple? It is? After you write your letter, put it aside for a while and then come back to it. Depending on the timelines, you could put it aside for 10 minutes, or 10 days. Just be sure to put it aside so you can come back and edit it with fresh eyes. If you don’t, you’ll fall prey to the grammatical and spelling errors that companies looking to hire don’t like.

That’s it. It’s short and it’s sweet. These rules apply everywhere, but I hold writers to a higher standard than most. If you are claiming to be a professional writer, then you should never give me a reason to critique your writing in a cover letter. Your letter doesn’t have to blow my mind, but it does have to show me that you are competent in your chosen profession.

What do you think? What are some of the best cover letters you’ve read? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Zac Hogle is a writer/director who has worked on several nationally broadcast series and documentaries. You can follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/zhogle.

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Categories: Breaking In, Writing
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