Author Topic: One of the things I hate about the biz...  (Read 6878 times)

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jspeaker

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One of the things I hate about the biz...
« on: Oct 22, 2005, 04:09 pm »
is writing cover letters!!  I always feel like an idiot when I'm writing them.  I'm a good stage manager and I would hate for my bad cover letters to be keeping me from interviews much less jobs.

Does anyone have any pointers? examples?  helpful websites?
Jess W. Speaker, III
Equity Stage Manager
DC Area AEA Liaison
(301) 335-1498
 
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Mac Calder

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One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #1 on: Oct 22, 2005, 08:13 pm »
Keep it short (half a page to a page) and to the point. Use a formal layout, with both of your addresses/phone numbers at the top, date it. Then begin.

Dear sir/madame/other form of address

Please find enclosed my application for the possition of xxx advertised in yyy on the dd of mmm.

For the last xyz years I have Stage Managed a number of shows including a (directed by b), c (directed by d) & e (directed by f), within with such notable companies as h,i&j. I find myself eager to work on your production of qqq as (INSERT REASONS HERE).

I feel I can bring a number of things to the team due to:
* Bullet list of attributes like organisation skills
* past experiance
* having worked with the director before
* what ever

<insert whatever else>

Thankyou for taking the time to read through my application and I look forward to further correspondence

Regards

<INSERT YOUR NAME HERE>

nook

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One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #2 on: Nov 24, 2005, 07:17 pm »
I'm going through a similar thought process right now.  I think the general format that mc listed fits and works well, as long as you can find a way to include some of your personality in it.  For me, it comes through in my writing style.

The most helpful thing I've found is to do some research on the theatre you are writing to (even if it's just looking at the website and looking through the names of the important players to see if you've worked with someone before).  If I was hiring, I would appriciate the time by a potential hiree if they made an effort to find my name (website or calling) and addressed the letter directly to me.

Name dropping too heavily in terms of my career feels forced and cheap (to me), but anything to get noticed right?  Hopefully your resume has that information and can be impressive enough.

Another thing I like to do is have someone else read my letter before I send it out.  If you have a roommate, or someone else close, they'll give you the best feedback on the general flow and content of the letter.  If something doesn't make sense to them, most often it's not just because they "don't work in theatre," but it's because your sentence structure needs looking at.

Hope that helps.

Jon

SingingPixie

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One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #3 on: Mar 16, 2006, 02:37 pm »
One thing that helps me is to make sure I tailor each letter to which job I'm applying for. Since I'm in the DC area too, I'll use this example. For the past year I've been ASM at GMU Center for the Arts in Fairfax. I've also worked with Theater of the First Amendment a bit. In my application to the Clarice Smith Center at U of MD I made sure to highlight the parallels between my experience and their space to show that I might be able to offer a different kind of experience than someone else who has worked more specifically on seeing a show from rehearsals to closing, one night at a time. When talking to the Folger about my next job there, I talked more about theater J and the Mason shows I've SMed. The personality thing is helpful too. I don't talk like a banker, so my letters don't sound that way either. There are ways to sound professional without sounding stuffy- which is helpful in a business where you'll have to deal with personalities extensively. Well, hope that made some sense! -Meg

jazminhupp

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« Reply #4 on: Mar 17, 2006, 12:35 am »
I do hiring at my current job and get to see all sorts of awful cover letters/resumes.  We keep a joke file of the worst examples.  First off, if you are send cover letters/resumes electronically you MUST make sure that your e-mail will open on almost any computer.  Send your files in .doc or .pdf formats.  If I get something that is anything else, half the time I can't open it or won't because it's actually a virus.  Send the e-mail to your friends and make sure they can open the file first.  

Form cover letters are boring and only show how little you care about the position I'm hiring for.  Create a few cover letters that hightlight your areas of expertise (i.e. dance cover letter, assistant cover letter, etc.)  Then add at least one sentence about why you want to work for that specific company for EVERY letter.  If you don't spend a few minutes preparing your application, why should I spend my time considering you?

If you or a friend is graphic savy, create some custom letterhead to use on your resume and cover letter.  They should coordinate and look professional.  If you can't lay out and organize a job application clearly how do I expect you to organize a show.

Get a real e-mail address if you are putting it on your resume or applying with it.  I am not going to hire satan666@aol.com or assplay69@yahoo.com.  Those are extreme but you get my point.  Have an e-mail address that is simple and professional.  I don't even really like scenicd04@hotmail.com.  Try just your name.  

Just my 2 cents.

centaura

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good point
« Reply #5 on: Mar 17, 2006, 12:12 pm »
That's a good point about the name on an email address - I hadn't really thought about it.  Though, I would wonder if I saw something offensive as someone's email.  I've never been on the hiring end, but I have worked at companies that pass around 'joke' applications.  We saw one where the person spelled their own name wrong.  (they used more than one spelling for their name in the application - so we assumed one of them had to be wrong)

I have always tried to be personal in my cover letter, referencing something from the theatre if I can.  I read quite a bit from the website of my current theatre before I applied, and was able to quote things in my interview.  Something that I did impressed them, as I have the job.  I felt good about the interview afterwards - they had liked the fact that I had read all their tech info online and could be specific (i.e. "I can program an Insight 3 - which I saw was your light board here")

-Centaura

MatthewShiner

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e-mail rant
« Reply #6 on: Mar 17, 2006, 07:07 pm »
I hate anything other then name in e-mail address.

For example:

1) No sexual reference
2) No reference to cute animals
3) No reference to being the "best" SM or anything.

Just be professional.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Debo123

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more on poor email addresses
« Reply #7 on: Mar 19, 2006, 02:43 am »
lol...
so bigmaglite69@yahoo is also out of the question?

Mac Calder

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One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #8 on: Mar 19, 2006, 05:13 am »
Usually you are fairly right if you use first.last@______ and they look mildly professional. Here is the worst one I have seen i__a_m__j_o_h_n__s_m_i_t_h@hotmail.com The damn thing had double _'s between words and the resume was printed, so the email bounced because I did not realise that. I only found it out when I got an email from him a week later asking about whether he got the position.

hilary25

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One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #9 on: Mar 19, 2006, 02:48 pm »
when i started applying to colleges, i immediatley changed my email address to my name. i couldnt imagine giving out my email address as the same one i've had since 3rd grade or even my current AIM name... im glad to see it does make a difference :P

bethanyb5

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Re: One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #10 on: Jun 18, 2009, 04:34 pm »
a couple of questions on this subject.

what is best? having a "cover letter" in the body of the email or attached?
if you attach it what do you say in the body of the email?

ScooterSM

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Re: One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #11 on: Jun 18, 2009, 04:56 pm »
a couple of questions on this subject.

what is best? having a "cover letter" in the body of the email or attached?
if you attach it what do you say in the body of the email?

I would recommend putting it in the body of the email.  It gives me an idea of who you are right away, gives me a reason to look at your resume, and is one less step that I have to go through to see what you have sent.  (It sounds harsh, but on the 50th email/resume that I receive downloading one more file to look at your cover letter can get frustrating...)

I would also HIGHLY support the having an easy to read email address, and to include your name in the file name of your resume (BSmithresume.pdf for example)
“I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.” Tony Church

MatthewShiner

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Re: One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #12 on: Jun 18, 2009, 05:08 pm »
Put  the cover letter in the e-mail.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

bethanyb5

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Re: One of the things I hate about the biz...
« Reply #13 on: Jun 18, 2009, 08:29 pm »
Thanks guys. That's what I had been leaning towards.

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