Creating a covering letter
Our Guide to Securing Auditions
Part 2: Writing a covering letter/email/message
If you read our last blog 'A guide to your one page CV', you should now have your one page CV looking smart and ready to send out for potential opera, choral and musical theatre auditions. Your covering email is your opening gambit and needs to inspire the reader to open your CV.
Should I include a covering letter/email/message with my CV?
First impressions are crucial, so don’t neglect this part of the application process. You may sing like the proverbial angel, but getting work is essentially a competition and people may make judgments on character, trustworthiness and intelligence based on your ability to write a good covering letter. We are not saying that this is right or fair, but knowing that it happens, why not avoid a potential reason for your CV to be rejected?
Where to begin?
With the subject line. Some companies will ask you to write your name and the role for which you are applying here.
For example, Josephine Bloggs, Soprano – Unhappy Spirit
This takes seconds and flags up what your email is about, speeding up the sorting process at their end.
To whom should I address the letter/email/message?
Has a contact name been given in the ad, and will your application go directly to that person? If so, address it to that person and spell their name correctly. Remembering a person’s name is a simple thing to do and goes a long way towards building a rapport.
If the contact to whom to the application should be addressed is not given, are any names of people (director/musical director etc.) involved in running the project included? If so address it to them instead.
If there are no names given and no online research can produce a direct contact name, then ‘Dear Sir/Madam,’ is a good place to start. If you don't know to whom you are speaking (remember your email or letter may go straight to the top!) ‘Hi’ ‘Hello’ or ‘Yo’ might seem a little informal.
What should I include in a covering letter/email/message?
Start by mentioning why you are contacting them. It is amazing how many singers forget to include their voice type (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, etc) or the specific name of the character for which they are hoping to audition, where applicable.
For example, I am a bass-baritone and would like to be considered for the role of ‘Happy Spirit’ in your new work ‘Ghost’ by ‘I. B. Spooked’.
Go back to the advertisement and reread it. More often than not, all the answers will be there.
At Audition Oracle we frequently see breakdowns for projects where the requirements for a covering letter/email/message are laid out. If you do not follow the employers’ requests, you will simply look lazy and as though you are not sufficiently interested in their project to have given your application proper thought.
Do I tell them my life story?
No. Unless they are specifically asking for a paragraph on your life you risk coming across as needy and making excuses for yourself before you have got through the door. Don't give them information with which they may (without realising it) disregard your application. This is a cover letter not an auto-biography cataloguing illness, life catastrophes and every single job you have done.
The advert asks for a paragraph about why I want to be involved in this project. Should I bother?
Yes. This is very important. If you don't include a paragraph about why you are interested, it won't matter how excellent your CV is, it may not even be opened. Likewise, if your CV isn't ideal for the position, then your covering letter is your chance to grab peoples’ attention. Don't waste it.
In this day and age, we are constantly reminded that supply far outstrips demand in the quest for auditions and work. Not only can people have the right singer with the right look, they can also book the one they think is the nicest. Have you noticed how often it is that in the profession you meet someone doing extremely well - and indeed not without talent - but not necessarily the best singer in the room? Nine times out of ten, when you meet said singer, they will be a really lovely person with whom people like to work.
Trotting out the generic ‘I just love working with the community and creating new works is so exciting to me’ is so vague that your sincerity will be called into question. Conversely, write a thesis and you risk looking like a know-it-all and might not be the desired kind of team player that the advert calls for.
So what should I include in this paragraph?
Mentioning that you once auditioned for the role or a similar project is irrelevant. Have you actually done a similar job before? If so include a few relevant experiences.
No relevant experience. What then?
If you don't have relevant experience, why are you interested in gaining it? Perhaps you have done a lot of work with one type of audience and you can see that there are many transferable skills that could work with another audience. Mention that this would be your chance to bring relevant skills to the project and also learn new ones.
Why this project?
Simply saying why you are interested to take part will speak volumes if the project is of genuine interest. If you are struggling to think of anything, ask yourself if this audition is really for you. If not, tear up the application and save your energy for an opera audition for which you are interested. As a jobbing singer, one of the hardest things is to be selective. We all have a habit of grabbing everything for fear of ending up with nothing. Learn to pick your battles.
Have they asked for any attachments? If so, don't forget to include them.
SOUND FILES - Many specifically ask for a link to a sound file rather than a big bulky file that clogs up their inbox. If they ask for it in this format, you can open up a SoundCloud account in a matter of minutes and create a link to your sound files or include a link to the relevant page on your website or your Audition Oracle profile. When applying for a job via the Audition Oracle website, our messages will automatically contain a link to your profiles Audio and Sound files for the employers’ convenience.
CVs - Have you included a relevant CV for the job applied for? If you are applying for an oratorio for example, you may wish to include your concert CV rather than your operatic CV. Tailor your CV to the job for which you are applying. Don't just send a four page CV that includes every last job that you have done, it just looks lazy. Don't feel up to the challenge of writing your own CV? For a refresher on successful CV writing, click HERE for our invaluable tips from a previous blog.
PHOTOS - These days people expect your photo to be on your CV. Occasionally they may ask for a full length photo or an unstyled photo to accompany your application.
APPLICATION FORMS - If an application form has been provided, take the time to fill it in and return it. If the advert requires one to be filled in, they've asked for a reason and may not consider you without it.
Sign your email/letter/message off suitably for the situation in which the application is made. This is a real can of worms for which there are, no doubt many good answers. The age of the internet has definitely altered the boundaries on etiquette. Do a little research on this for yourself as your sign off can be part of your individual charm and even become your trademark. However you sign off, be sure to include the correct punctuation.
Yours Josephine is a little different from
Reread your letter/email/message and make use of the spell check facility.
Extra words have a habit of creeping in and are not necessarily picked up by spelling & grammar tools. Likewise the difference between the words from and form. If you are known for mixing up your minutes with your minuets make another check that you have projected the right meaning even if the spelling is correct.
Most computers and phones seem to have the facility to spell check now. Use it. Remember when sending a message within a website, the spell check may not work. Copy and paste your text into a Word document and double check it. This takes minutes. Do make sure the dictionary defaults to the UK version otherwise you may find that you once performed at a theatER instead of a theatRE!
Creating one takes minutes and adds a professional look to your emails. Look for the appropriate function in your email facility and include the relevant information. We suggest...
- full name
- voice type
- contact phone
- contact email
- website address
So, you have...
- introduced yourself
- said WHAT you are applying for
- said WHY you are applying
- referred the reader to your attached documents
- ...and checked that they are all attached!
- signed off you email, letter or message
- proofread your words
It's time to press send and get back to practicing!
© Audition Oracle