In Hollywood, many job openings require that you apply via email. For these types of job applications, you should always send a cover email -- that is, a short email indicating your intention in applying and interest in the role. While a cover email is not a formally required piece of a job application (you’ll never see it requested in the application instructions), it is one of the most important factors in getting your resume opened by a hiring manager. Especially for freelance or entry-level roles that are posted widely, hiring managers receive so many job applications that they tend to consider only the candidates who have articulated their intention in applying in a concise and friendly way in the body of the email.
The good news is, writing a cover email is a quick and simple process! Ideally, you’ll address the email to an actual person (“Hi Jane,”), but if the email address is generic, “Hi,” or “Dear Hiring Manager,” is appropriate. Then, you’ll write a short paragraph stating your interest in a particular role, who you are/what you are doing now, any key selling points, and then indicate your desire to schedule an interview. In total, the cover email should be about 3-4 sentences. You can write conversationally – keep it professional of course, but the tone you would use in a regular work email will work here too.
We’ve found that a good cover email makes all the difference in your chances of getting an interview – no one likes opening an email from a total stranger that just has an attachment, or the very stand-offish "Resume attached." Make sure you don't skip this step when you apply for roles via email, even if you're also attaching a formal cover letter per the application instructions.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan