Ok with a bit of background we can start to get into the more tactical elements to getting you a job. This starts with your own introduction.
Now I have had my fair share of sending my own cover letters and also receiving them from other sound crew that want to work with me. This is a unique insight that changed how I thought about them.
The Internet Handshake
Redefining the cover letter as a hand shake give you a whole new perspective to your introductions. If someone introduced you at a party to someone who could be your client in future and asked you to introduce yourself what would you say?
This leads on to a few tips on getting the most out of any cover letter. This is never a guarantee to getting a job but we are looking to maximise your personality, attitude and work ethic. These intangible elements are going to put you on a level playing field with someone with more experience who seems a bit dull.
Let’s get into the factors that will really sell your cover letter:
#1 – Short and Sharp
Both from the cover letters I have received to the ones I have given I have always loved the ones that where short. Imagine the person you are writing to had 500 responses. Even if they read the first couple all the way though, eventually we all skim read if it gets repetitive.
A typical cover letter is several paragraphs, this is probably too much depending on the project. You need to find your own sweet spot for getting across the relevant and leaving something to the imagination.
Remember we are treating this as a handshake and so you are going are trying to start a conversation. Ask yourself if you are talking too much about yourself or information that is not to the point, more on that in the next tip.
#2 – Relevant?
This follows nicely on from short and sharp. Keeping relevant is going to mean that the person reading is going to take in everything you say. This is likely to lead them to take to you even more.
There is of course the need to talk about yourself in some regard. You would never say “Yeah i’m OK but not really got much experience” but at the same time not oversell yourself. This balance of modesty may take some tweaking but let me give you an example of 2 cover letters I have received and one I have given.
**Typical Cover Letter I Have Received **(made up with fake names)
“ Hey Matt,
My name is Bob and I am a passionate sound recordist. I would love to work with you on your project. I originally went to film school ABC and got a bachelors in XYZ. This fuels my passion for sound.
I would be a really good asset on your project because of my experience on several films, including a BAFTA nominated short film which I did the location sound on. I look to do even more work like this and think your project would be perfect…..”
You get the idea. The problem is not the text itself per se, but that after reading even 5 of a similar structure, the persons brain is going to skip.
A good example
This is an example of a cover letter that got me on a 6 week feature film across Europe back in 2011. We will talk more about what else allowed me to get it through the interview process but imagine you have read 50 of the ones above.
I’m Matt Price from soundrolling.com. I have completed over X hours and X projects including feature films, short films and documentaries. I also have my own gear which allows me to get the best results I can on set.
For more relevant information have a look at my site http://soundrolling.com. You can find my CV of 400+ projects and showreel there, along with my £50,000 gear list.
Would love to hear more about the project, is it possible to get a script?
This version was short, straight to the point for many jobs. If i had more details I would sprinkle more relevant context towards if it was a certain genre or style.
Even with being fairly generic your brain is processing the numbers and nice bite size chunks of information that qualify me as both a competent individual and with my own gear will have had some success in the past.
I then lead them on the get more information on my website, which is all about me. This is an area that I am in control of, away from the generic email client.
I also add an additional question to prompt a response. Many just end with goodbye and so no more action is incentivised. You can save the conversation of where you went and worked for the next call when you have them hooked.
#3 – Conversational Structure
This is seen with the questions and relaxed writing. You want to treat it like you just met this person at a party and they say “Oh we are looking for X for our project in 2 weeks”
Being able to rattle off key points and also write with confidence that you know what you are talking about gives you an extra edge. Attitude of being relaxed and a team player is all very intangible unless you blatantly say “i have a great attitude”
Instead you want to be able to demonstrate as much as possible.