5 Cover Letter Guidelines To Up your chances of getting hired

If your resume is like a Tinder picture, where your only objective is for a future employer to "swipe right" and call you in for an interview, then your cover letter is like your profile or "About Me" section. It is your opportunity to share details about who you, beyond a snapshot and tell why you are right for a specific company or position.

Although it may seem counter intuitive, employers often look at your resume first. If it is organized well, has no clerical errors and has appropriate experience for the position they are trying to fill, they will invest time to read that cover letter.

So before you compose and send your next cover letter, check out these 5 Cover Letter Guidelines so you can up your chances to get hired in the right job for you!

1. Shorter is Better:

Read this blog about the length of your cover letter. It should be long enough to cover the important elements, but short enough to be interesting. If your cover letter is over a page, single spaced, and written in 8 pt font, please reconsider. Only include the essentials like where your heard about the job (drop a name of the friend who told you about it or my name if you are applying to a job I post on my email blast), why you are qualified and interested in the position. Keep in mind, shorter cover letters stand a greater chance of being read.

2. Personality Counts:

One of the best cover letter's I've seen all year came from Columbia College Chicago grad, Bradley Gilligan when he applied for a job at VH-1/MTV. As instructed in the job post, he sent his email to Haley and copied me. He got our attention in the right way and was called in for an interview by demonstrating personality and knowledge of the company in an organic and fun way! Remember, this is entertainment, where a great personality is rewarded and highly sought after.

Haley, Can't tell you how loud I screamed when I saw The Hills was coming back while watching the VMAs, but I'm sure my neighbors filed a noise complaint. That being said, attached is my resume. You may find the format to look similar, because I've been watching Krista's e-mails come in like hawk and realized yours was top notch. Anyway, hope you're having a great day and look forward to hearing from you!


Brad Gilligan


(BONUS TIP: Include your phone number at the bottom of every email in your signature. You are up for a job, so please be easy to reach and answer your phone even from numbers you don't know.)

3. Talk Like a Human

Nothing is more annoying than reading a cover letter that is obviously a template. You've changed the company name and the job title, but the formula is clear. There is no emotion. Especially in entertainment where you have so many smaller production companies, your resume will be read by a human and not just a computer searching for keywords. So talk like a human. Have heart. Express in clear, easy to understand language who you are and why you are interested in the position. Take out MBA jargon and avoid using words that clearly chosen from thesaurus. It doesn't make you sound smart, it shows inexperience. So use simple language and create a new cover letter for every job you go after.

4. Respond to needs of the company (not just your skills)

Let's get back to the dating app analogy. Would you respond to a DM from someone who just reiterated why they were awesome and asked you for a date without having read what YOU were looking for? Don't you want him or her to listen to your needs first and find common interests? Same is true with an employer. I don't care how talented you are, if a job description details that they want a student from an accredited university receiving class credit for an internship opportunity and you apply even though you graduated in 2015, you've wasted everyone's time. You don't qualify. Plain and simple.

If they are looking for someone who if an expert in Excel, make sure that you say it in your cover letter. Better yet, share a story where you were on deadline for a project and how your computer skills helped your boss.

5. If the job is in LA and you are not, include when you are moving

If you are living out of state and applying for a job in Los Angeles, you must specify when you are moving to LA or better yet, just wait until you are here to apply. Most companies will not pay a relocation fee for entry level employees. Also, jobs go quickly and sometimes you are called in to interview that day or even the next. So even though I know you would hop on a plane from Wisconsin at a moment's notice, it just isn't practical. Meetings are moved all of the time and if you flew out to LA for one meeting and it was cancelled an hour before, you'd be really upset.

But let's take it a step further and say you nailed the interview and they want you to start in 2 days. Is it really practical for your to uproot your life to a new city in that short amount of time? Carefully consider how badly you want to work in entertainment and what city you will do it in. There is a thriving entertainment community in LA, NYC, Atlanta, Nashville etc...so decide where your want to be first and apply accordingly.

Krista Parkinson