The Dreaded Cover Letter…

Applications: love or loathe, they are something we all have to navigate.

After a morning helping a friend write a covering letter for an assistant director job, I thought I’d jot down some of the things we figured out together about what makes an approach stand out. And of course I’ve given all the sections song lyric titles because, well – why not.

These can be covered in any order as feels most natural.

  1. ‘This Is Me’

Defining your identity and artistic vision.

Introduce yourself with a clear identity and artistic vision. Who are you and what are you about? What fuels your passion for theatre? What type of work resonates with you, and what kind of projects do you want to create? Are there any personal values that you want to share?

Maybe you want to mention something you saw recently that inspired you – or perhaps you can say more about your personal brand/ values with a quick pitch of a piece of work you have created or are working on.

Keep it short, relevant and clear.

  1. ‘Chalk it all up to experience..’

Map the landscape of your career journey so far.

Provide a clear snapshot of your current position in the professional world. Where are you at? Are you a recent graduate looking for work experience or an established director ready to step into having more responsibility in an Associate Director role? If you’re applying to be an assistant director, consider who will be supporting who in this partnership and whether you are looking to observe and learn, or support a team in realising a vision while learning along the way. What level of independent working are you experienced in, or do you now feel ready to take on?

Previous work and experience. What can you talk about with pride which is relevant to this potential job or collaboration? Remember you don’t have to have already done the job to prove that you can do the job. I only ever knew how to make children’s theatre because I used to dress up as a Princess and run birthday parties at weekends when I was a student.

Be realistic about where you are at, what scale you’ve worked on and where you see yourself going next.

You might want to mention previous collaborations and how the dynamic worked.

  1. ‘I Speak Six Languages..’

Skills Showcase: Beyond the Basics

Talking about skills is not just about listing generic attributes; it’s about showcasing what makes you unique and brilliant.

Are you a geek like me who LOVES excel spreadsheets? Do you read music? Can you craft an impeccable rehearsal schedule with five rooms running at once? Are you adept at handling tricky personalities? Are you a demon notetaker? Do you have a special affinity for working with certain age groups?

Whether it’s a dexterity with PowerPoint or an ability to seamlessly switch tasks a thousand times a day, specificity is key. Most directors are good at directing. What magic will you bring to the team?

  1. ‘Why, God, Why?’

Unveiling Your Motivation

Every approach should answer the fundamental question: Why? What’s the thing that compels you to spend time sitting and writing this letter – is it a chance to learn from an experienced director, a desire for artistic growth, a means to earn a living, a piece that really speaks to you?

A good framework might be to highlight what you hope to contribute to the collaboration and what you anticipate gaining from it. You can make a link about how this specific job or collaboration resonates with your aspirations.

Frame it all with polite salutations and a suitable sign off – and you’re good to go!

Hope this has been useful – and if there are any ideas or essentials we’ve missed out please hit me up for a hasty edit and co-credit.