You Need a Cover Letter

After sharing a job posting on TAPA yesterday yesterday, the HR person at the unnamed firm sent me an email:

If you could please add “and cover letter” in the last line I would really appreciate it 🙂

What this says to me is, at least one of my readers (probably more than one) sent a blank email with a resume attached.

This is a terrible idea.

Resumes are great, factual accounts of what you’ve done in the past, and often give an idea of what you plan to accomplish in the future. But they don’t give a sense of personality. They don’t tell people who you are.

That’s what the cover letter is for. You don’t want to be too jokey or familiar, but a finely crafted cover letter can make you stand out from the crowd. It’s your chance to say, “Hey, other PAs (or assistants) might have similar experiences, but I’m somebody who you can totally spend 60 hours a week with and not go crazy.”

Plus, it’s a chance to highlight specific elements of your experience that relate to this job in particular. That could mean you went to the same school as the person you’ll be assisting, or you both started out at the same agency, or whatever. Anything that separates you from the hundred other candidates is a good thing.

Now, don’t go too crazy writing the perfect letter. You should still have a template sitting in your drafts folder. The basic outline of your cover letter doesn’t change; modify a line or two on any give job application.

By the way, if you’re having trouble with your cover letter, I can help you with that.

Unless the job notice specifically says, in so many words, “Don’t include a cover letter,” always always always include a cover letter. It’s well worth your time.

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4 Responses

  1. I can’t tell you how many resumes I get that have an overly familiar, joking type of “cover letter” where the writer tries to be witty. Things like “Coming soon to a set near you!” and the entire cover letter is themed like that. I had one submitted like a script where they wrote out how their job interview would go.

    They go straight into the trash.

    It’s nice you have a sense of humor, but we need to know you’re serious about a job first.

    The best submissions have the position listed in the subject line, a cover letter that introduces the person with a bit of background (that applies to the position!) and has a resume attached. I tend to keep those ones on file for future productions too.

  2. I realize that the entertainment industry is a whole other animal in a lot of ways. But sending a blank email without even an introductory “howdy” is no way to get yourself noticed, in ANY field. That so many people don’t know this is shocking and disheartening. (BTW, this is a great blog! Thanks for all you do.)

  3. How do you feel about the body of your email as the cover letter – or should it always be a separate attachment?

    1. It’s NEVER a separate document, unless specifically asked for. Always write it as the body of your email.

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