One of the fastest possible ways to eliminate yourself from contention for jobs is to send the exact same resume and cover letter each time you apply for a job. Trust me – studio recruiters and HR staff can tell your cover letter is generic almost immediately. And what does that generic message tell the studio about you? That you can’t be bothered to do any research about either the company or the specific role that you’re applying for. You might be intimately familiar with that studio, a huge fan of their games and a great fit for the role, but it’s too late – you’ve been weeded out. You won’t even get the chance to show them that in an interview.
We’ve covered this topic briefly before, with a quick tip from Deep Silver’s Erica Haack. Her main point about cover letters was this – “I want to know why you want to work for us and specific experiences you have relating to the position.”
I also came across a couple of interesting posts this morning on Fast Company. The first post, which discusses some common cover letter problems, include this great point:
Whenever an entry-level gig opens up, she’s soon inundated by applications not only riddled with misspellings and typos, but more terrifyingly, “what appears to be a fundamental lack of understanding of how to sell oneself to a prospective employer.”
I feel like people don’t realize how many other applicants they’re up against when they’re applying for a job, especially the more junior positions. Your margin for error is razor thin. Errors are obviously unacceptable, but a generic, un-targeted cover letter is almost as bad. The studio could be looking at dozens, maybe even hundreds of applications for that position, and you have a very small amount of time to convince them that you’re at least worth talking to about the job.
The second post offers up some tips for making sure your cover letter holds the reader’s attention:
…you can use the cover letter to show your employer-crush why your experience is just right for the job description. Do not, do not, do not let it look like a template. Would you hire someone who sent you a template? No. So don’t send one.
Notice the 3 “do nots” to emphasize not using a template cover letter. Don’t do it.
Writing a new cover letter for every job takes time. It will slow you down. The alternative, however, is risking having your application thrown out immediately. Take the time to personalize the message when applying. Keep it short, honest, on point, and let the studio know how your skills and experience are just what they’re looking for.