You probably clicked on this post thinking we were going to warn against writing generic cover letters because you might make an error and use the wrong business name somewhere in the document. While that’s a big mistake (and one that will probably cost you an interview), it’s only part of the reason you should write a new cover letter for every job application.
We always recommend starting cover letters from scratch, instead of using a template. This allows you to tailor each cover letter to the specific job so you can show employers why you want to work there and why you’d be a good fit. If you start writing and can’t figure out what to say, it’s probably a sign that this isn’t the right job for you. You have to be able to convince yourself first. Do your qualifications match what’s being asked for in the posting? Does this job sound fun? Is it a company you’re passionate about?
Write honestly, and make it personal. It’s pretty obvious when employers get a recycled cover letter. If you can sound like an actual human, you’re a lot more likely to get a call. And the best way to do that is to open up a fresh email or Word document and start typing.
Hollywood Resumes Co-Founder Angela Silak wrote a guest blog for the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism's MCM blog. Check it out here.
You know those internships where the supervisor doesn’t really have enough work to give you, so you wind up filing or shredding papers all day? Not only are you bored to tears, but when you go to write your resume, you feel like you have no job responsibilities worth listing!
The good news is, there is a way to use your experience to show that you do have valuable skills and that you learned something (without lying). If all you did was file during an internship, that’s ok, but you’ll have to find a way to phrase it better. Think about the overall purpose of filing -- you were probably helping the department stay organized in some way. “Created an organizational system for tracking projects” or “Oversaw office organization and handled sensitive documents” sounds a whole lot better than “Filed papers.”
Filing may seem like a silly administrative task, but if you can use it to prove that you are organized (an essential skill for any employee), it can give your resume a boost instead of holding you back. The same is true for simple assignments like making office runs as a PA or handling company mail as an assistant. If you think big about these minor responsibilities, your resume will sound much more impressive.
Like many other industries, Hollywood has its own set of skills that are favored over others, and these depend on the position you're applying for. For an intern, most hiring managers want someone who is smart and reliable, and this can be conveyed in many different ways on a resume. But once you’re ready for an assistant position, your resume needs to change -- there are some very specific skills that should to be on your resume to keep it from getting thrown in the trash.
In particular, administrative duties like answering phones and scheduling must be on there. Although they seem like menial and easy tasks, they will be the core of your job as an assistant, and your potential boss will want to know he's going to be covered if he hires you. It’s all about proving that you know how to manage a desk.
Even if you've got more to offer, you need to think about the actual requirements of the position you’re applying for and make sure you’re highlighting the skills that are going to be valued most. And when you’re ready to make the jump from assistant to coordinator (or any position going forward), you’ll need to overhaul your resume again -- so you’ve mastered phones and calendars, cool, but what else can you do beyond that? Bottom line, make sure your resume matches the job posting.