Write a Winning Cover Letter to Get the Media Job You Want
Starting a conversation with the person who may be your next boss all begins with writing an effective media cover letter. Even experienced media professionals make critical errors, usually by being in a rush to get their resume posted and thinking their video, audio or print clips are all that matter.
Time Required: 45 Minutes
- Start with the basics of applying for a media job. Call the station or publication to make sure the editor or news director still works there. Also verify spellings and the company's address.
- Double check your letter for typos and grammatical mistakes. Any errors a hiring manager sees may be interpreted as thinking you're a sloppy employee or are not detail-oriented.
Remember, you're in an industry where the details count. To an editor or news director, typos in a cover letter mean typos in their print or on-air products.
- Grab attention with your first sentence or two. "I am interested in the reporter opening I saw posted on your station's website" is how most candidates will start their cover letter. Think of something different. Saying how much you "really want/need this job" is also a turnoff. If you didn't want the job, you wouldn't be applying. Whatever is the most compelling reason that you should be hired, put it at the top of your letter. The editor or news director won't make it to the end if the beginning is boring.
- Look at the content. Make sure you sell yourself with each paragraph. Decide which information is relevant to the company and eliminate the rest. For example, if you have 20 years in the business, there's no need to include awards you received in college.
Add to the information the news director sees from your actual media resume. Avoid simply repeating it.
- The most effective cover letters are also brief. To make sure yours is read, keep it less than one page and make good use of white space. Break up your letter into short paragraphs and don't be afraid to use bullet points or other visual aids to draw the eye to the most important points you want to make. Truth is, an editor or news director will likely only skim your letter. Skim it yourself to see what you pick up in less than 30 seconds. Rearrange sentences or paragraphs to improve your visual impact.
- Customize each cover letter to the job description. The more you draw out the details from the ad, the more you look like the right candidate to fill the position.
- Do your homework. Study the publication or station and use that information in your cover letter. For example, a TV station's big community outreach project could be a canned food drive at Christmas. Mention this in your cover letter to demonstrate that you know something about that particular media outlet. That alone won't get you the job but it sets you apart from all of the other candidates sending generic cover letters.
- If you and your potential boss have a mutual acquaintance, mention that person as long as you're sure they would give you a good reference. The media business is a small world so use the people you've come in contact with over the years to help position yourself as a less risky job candidate than someone who's completely unknown to the editor or news director.
- Include the best time to contact you. Media professionals work crazy hours. You may currently work on the night shift and aren't at your best to take a phone call from your next boss at 8 a.m.
- Have a friend read your cover letter. A fresh set of eyes can catch errors you may have missed or clunky wording that distracts from your cover letter's power.
15 Jones Street
Jonestown NSW 2222
T: (02) 3456 6543
M: 0441 123 321
HR Manager, MyTube
GPO Box 000
Sydney NSW 2000
Dear Ms Brown
Re: Associate Producer position
I wish to apply for the position of Associate Producer advertised recently on the MyTube website.
I am passionate about digital media and have geared my tertiary education, internships and recent work experience towards a career in this exciting and rapidly growing industry. I completed a Bachelor of Multimedia at the University of Jonestown in 2007 and have since been working as a part-time production assistant at the web and content development company Big Bang Media.
My key responsibilities include formatting and proofreading website content before publication, creating and maintaining publishing schedules, and sourcing and cropping photos and other graphical content. I also update text and images on client websites using a proprietary content management system (CMS).
In addition, I have completed two internships with organisations at the forefront of digital media – the Jonestown Courier and Digital Solutions. Each full-time work placement lasted four weeks, giving me the opportunity to not only develop skills in a range of areas, including proofreading, HTML coding and video editing, but also to learn first-hand the importance of teamwork in a fast-paced environment.
Furthermore, I have taught myself Dreamweaver 8 in order to build a website to showcase my video work and the articles I have written for the online magazine DigiFuture (www.digifuture.com).
I am hard working, flexible and thrive in a team environment and believe my skills would greatly benefit a dynamic and innovative company like MyTube.
My resume is attached and I look forward to discussing this position at an interview.