We’re exploring all about CVs and Cover letters – but are there differences between different industries? In this blog miniseries, Dominic from NextShoot tells us how he views CVs and cover letters, what catches his eye as a recruiter, and how students can perfect their applications for top jobs in the video production industry!
NextShoot is a corporate video production company in London making business video content for well-known brands. We advertise jobs and also receive many speculative applications including for work-experience and entry-level jobs.
As a result, we see a lot of Covering Letters and CVs including from undergraduates and recent graduates. In this blog, I’m going to share what resonates with me in a Covering Letter and CV by answering some common questions and suggest how to tweak your application to increase your chances of getting an interview.
What is your initial process when reviewing a CV and Covering Letter?
First impressions – I heard on the BBC this week that recruiters spend an average of 7 seconds looking at a CV. That doesn’t surprise me. The first decision I make with any application is whether to discard it, based on a couple of key signifiers: bad grammar and poorly structured text, and overly elaborate presentation that puts style over substance.
My next step would depend on whether the application relates to an advertised role or is a speculative approach. If it’s for a position we’ve advertised I would be looking to narrow down the CVs to a short-list of 3-5 favoured applicants. Of course, this is a considered process involving other team members. If the application is speculative, then I tend to look quickly at their specific degree, any work experience they may have and links to their work. With the applications that I feel fit best with NextShoot, I flag them and file them in an email folder so that when an opportunity opens up for work experience, entry-level or freelance work, I can find them easily.
The takeaway here is that first impressions are important, but also that while your services may not be needed now you want to encourage the recipient to keep your details for later.
NextShoot are running a masterclass webinar for King’s students interested in Film & video production during our Future Advantage Festival, starting 28 September. Click to book your space on the virtual event via King’s CareersConnect.
What elements in a CV and Covering Letter do you pay most attention to?
If a position opened up for a student or recent graduate, I would review my filed CVs and Covering Letters. The applicant’s email text is also important and any observations about the Covering Letter would apply to this.
Name – I‘m a strong advocate for getting a name to put on your Covering Letter, and where possible using a specific email address. LinkedIn may give you the information you require, but it might involve getting on the phone and doing some detective work. If you use your initiative and find the person in charge of recruitment and address them directly in an email and a Covering Letter, then that should work to your advantage.
Presentation – a Covering Letter should be a one-pager of well-spaced text in readable font size. A CV can be two pages, but when you’re starting out one page is probably enough. They should feel clean and orderly. A potential employer has little time to read your information, so keep it tight and make each word count. Apps are available to help you with spelling and sentence structure (eg Grammarly or Hemmingway). And think about what you put first – in your email text, Covering Letter and CV. Remember, if you have 7 seconds to make an impression, cut to the chase.
Tailored – I react positively to applicants who have taken the time to tailor their application to us.
Creating one generic template and sending out 500 email shots is the spam approach. Tailoring your email text and Covering Letter for each application is time-consuming, but more likely to result in a job. You can reference something you’ve read in the paper about them, a recent campaign or LinkedIn post. It demonstrates your initiative and suggests you understand their business.
King’s Careers’ Take: When creating your CV, it often helps having someone else review it and give you feedback. King’s Careers & Employability have a CV Pathways and CV Checker tools designed to help you get ideas on how to build a great CV and even get direct feedback (all via King’s CareersConnect). In addition to this, our CV workshops throughout the Autumn term are great ways to learn practical CV tips, as well as a chat with a Careers Consultant about any questions you might have.
Tune in to the next blog where we find out what aspect of a recent CV and cover letter impressed Dominic, and how can students describe their employable skills and attributes even if you don’t have professional experience yet!