Runner CVs & Cover Letters.

This is a follow up to last week's post Starting Out In The Industry: Advice for Runners & Newcomers. Thank you to everyone who tweeted, commented and offered suggestions, it was great to hear your feedback. One of the things people asked me to blog about is how to actually get Runner work, which is a big question! But before you start applying for jobs, I think its important to have an excellent CV and cover email template (and update for every job you apply for), so I'm going to focus on this today and tackle the big question next week.


CVs.


CV in the TV & film world are quite different to the type of CV you'll write at university or in other industries. For a start it needs to be short, just 1 page ideally, and there's a lot of information you probably don't need to include. I've received lots of Runners CV that are 3, 4 or even 5 pages long and frankly its all wasted space and irrelevant information. 


Here's what you should include:



  • Your name, contact details, where your based and your job role.
  • A brief personal statement, which should include whether or not you drive and/or have a car.
  • A list of recent credits including details of the production title, production company, dates you worked and (if they are happy with this) the name of the person you reported to during the job.
  • A list of any other work experience you may have.
  • A brief summary of your education and training qualifications.
  • Any references you have or politely state 'references available upon request.'
All the information should be precise and relevant. Don't feel as though you have to bulk up your CV with unnecessary information. If you worked as a waitress for 3 years then that's great as it shows you have hospitality skills so I'd definitely include that. However, if you took part in Duke of Edinburgh when you were in Sixth Form, that's not relevant and doesn't tell the employer anything about your potential as a Runner (unless you're applying for a job on an outdoorsy programme, then by all means include it)! 

I'd also suggest that you don't need to over explain what work experience you do have. On a previous draft of my CV, I described some of the tasks I undertook as a Production Runner on various past jobs but was told by a Line Producer that it simply wasn't needed. She explained that she, and other people who might employ me, know exactly what a Production Runner does so I don't need to specify on all my Runner jobs that I made tea, picked up talent and distributed paperwork. Besides, if the employer has any specific questions about your previous jobs, they will ask you.

Making the most of your formatting will also save space on the page, so make sure you don't have any gaps or blank spaces. 

If you want to play around with the style of your CV to make it interesting then do so but with limitations. You don't have to use a bog-standard format, but please don't use colourful fonts or crazy graphics. I once received a CV that was had a black background, white text and pictures of clapperboards as the header and footer of each page... it looked tacky and unprofessional.

Similarly, don't include a photo. A passport picture looks creepy and a selfie looks unprofessional. 

Its up to you if you want to stage your age or DOB, but personally, I don't think you need to as if you include dates with your education its easy enough to figure out how old you are.

An obvious one but check, double and triple check your spelling. This is especially relevant if you're looking to work in the production department as you'll be writing, reading and distributing lots of documents.

Here's a made up example of what I think is a great Runner's CV...



(excuse the red squiggly lines, this is just a screen grab from a Word doc!)

You probably think I've gone on too long about CVs - and to be honest I am a bit obsessed with them as I read them almost every day - but I genuinely think they're vital in getting work.

To push this point further, I'll tell you a little anecdote about a friend of mine who hopefully won't mind me sharing this...

I was working with a Runner who knew I was very keen on CVs and he asked me to look at his. I had a read of it and frankly it was terrible, and went against most of the things I've listed above. I told him this and he admitted that he'd been meaning to change it for a while, as during his last job interview the employer told him she would never have invited him to the interview based on his CV and had in fact only decided to meet with him because a colleague of hers had recommended him. In this case, the good recommendation overpowered the poor CV, but without that he wouldn't have even had a chance. 

Cover Letters.

The most important thing about cover letters? 

AMEND THEM FOR EVERY JOB.

Always personalise the cover letter to suit the job role and the company, as this shows you've put effort into finding out about the company and have genuinely considered how you might be suitable for the role. 

Never, ever copy and paste a generic covering letter because it makes you look lazy and like you don't really care about the job you're applying for, that instead you're just applying for any and every job. Its obvious and employers always know. The giveaways are usually statements like "I'm really interested in your company" when you could easily use the actual name of the company or "I think I'm right for the position you advertised" when you could have stated the specific job title. 

The main body of information the employer will need to know should be in your CV, so keep your cover letter brief and to the point. Don't go on about yourself, your hobbies, instead make a few relevant statements regarding yourself and the job.

If you know the employer's name then address them by their name - more often than not, its in the person's email address. Dear Sir or Madam" is very 1980's business school and media types, in general don't like it. If you don't know the employer's name and have no way of finding it out, then go for something polite but casual like "Hi there". 

Cue fictional cover letter, here's a great example...


Again, your cover letter is important as its your first chance to make a good impression. I've received emails addressed to "Mr John", even though my email clearly states my full name and I'm neither male nor is my surname John. If you incorrectly address the employer, use a generic and obviously copy & pasted cover email or waffle on without addressing the key information regarding the job role, its highly unlikely you'll be considered for any work. In fact, if your cover letter is particularly poor they probably wont even read your CV. 

So...

Whether you're applying for a job vacancy or just putting yourself out there, you need to do everything you can to make yourself stand out. Having a strong CV, no matter how much experience you may or may not have, is vital. Introducing that CV with a clear, concise cover email is important too. Both documents require time and attention, which you simply have to put in.

Coming next week... How To Get Work as a Runner: The Plan of Attack!

I’m always happy to receive feedback or try to answer any questions you might have, so please feel free to get in touch.

Comments

  1. This is so helpful for me! Cover letters are the bane of my existence because I never know how to address the company/person or how much to write, but your example really helps narrow it down.
    As for my CV, mine more or less looks like your example (win for me!) but I've been told that the "reference upon request" part should not be included? Is it just a preference?

    Sahar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sahar, thanks for your feedback and I'm really glad to hear it's useful! I don't think it makes too much difference if you write "references upon request" or include the details of your referees, but personally I've always gone for "RUR" as it saves space and in my experience employers have never asked for my references anyway. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. Danielle its your great effort.You know I did not know how to make proper cover letters and resumes.I visit site and its really cool.Good job and keep posting more.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Its very effective article for all those who are looking for best CV formats.I would recommend my students to visit the site for more better details.Good attempt.Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

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