The Bain of My Existence: Cover Letters
While I love resumes, the opposite can be said when it comes to cover letters.
They are tedious and take quite a bit of work.
And after if you spend all this time and energy, the employer still might look at your resume, decide you aren't qualified, and move on to the next candidate without even glimpsing at the cover letter you spent hours slaving over.
But nevertheless they exist and we have to do them anyway. So - because you all requested it - I'm sharing a little insight on cover letters as hiring season really gets underway!
5 Tips for The Theatre Cover Letter
1. Don't copy and paste!
I wrote about this on my overall job hunting advice blog post! However, it is so important I figured it was worth mentioning again. You can absolutely use the same structure and formatting, but if you copy and paste you are bound to make a major mistake.
While I have never fell victim to forgetting to change the name of the theatre, I have come close to sending in a cover letter for an indoor theatre stating how the challenge of working in an outdoor theatre excites me.
Learn from my past (almost) mistake.
Don't copy and paste.
Obviously every cover letter is different. There are so many examples and templates online for normal people jobs. However, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to theatre cover letters.
So here's a basic idea of how I set mine up for a starting point:
Dear _____ or To Whom it May Concern ( Some people still list the address above this but I have stopped because it's a little outdated. However, listing the date is still helpful! )
Introduction & Position you are applying for.
Let them know who you are, what job you are applying for, and where you saw the job listing (This last one is not required but sometimes helpful and shows them you are specific.)
The first paragraph is also where I name drop if I have a name to drop. Do at the beginning so that way they keep reading the rest of your cover letter. Make sure you ask the person (& check that they are in good standing with the theatre) before you name drop them. Also if you name drop, make sure it's relevant and you know the person will speak highly of you if asked.
The second (and sometimes third) paragraph is where I go into my experience. I essentially pick the most applicable previous jobs and list some of my job tasks for said jobs. I also might throw in an anecdote or story about when something went wrong and how I was able to fix it efficiently and effectively. Employers like to know how you do under pressure and also like fast thinkers.
The fourth paragraph is why I want the job and why I believe the company and I would be a good fit for each other.
The final sentence or two is an "invitation" to interview and a thank you. It goes something like this:
"I would love to speak with you to discuss more about ____Theatre and how I can be an asset to you all during the ____season. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Finally sign off with your name, email, phone number, and website if you have one.
3. Be informed.
Do your research. The best piece of advice I have is to know the mission statement. Both the company's mission statement and your own. Find out how their artistic vision lines up with your artistic goals and write about it. When you're passionate about a company it comes across in your cover letter and employers love passionate artists.
4. Be specific.
Take this research you just did and use it to your advantage. If you know who you are applying to, get rid of "To Whom it May Concern" and address the person by name. This gets a little trickier in 2019 because of gender pronouns and not wanting to offend anyone, but use your best judgement.
Read the job description over and over and make sure your cover letter responds to it. Does it say experience with kids a plus? Tell them about the time you were a child wrangler for Annie and it was double cast. Your letter doesn't have to be a bullet for bullet checklist, but pick and choose your stories based on the job description.
5. Be balanced.
This is a hard one and one I still struggle with it every single time I sit down to write a cover letter. For one thing, it can be hard to find the right length for a cover letter. Mine tend to be on the lengthier side, but then when I edit people's cover letters I envy how succinct they have managed to get their cover letters. Another struggle is finding the balance between cockiness and confidence. A cover letter is selling yourself, but it can be hard to talk about your successes, especially when you are first starting out. My best advice would be to just keep at it. Balance is something you find in time.
So there you have it! Another #TheatreThursday post in the bo-interwebs! If this post was helpful feel free to share it with your tribe as well.
Oh and one last tip,
Or if you do, make sure you PROOFREAD before sending it in.
Much love always,