If you want your resume and cover letter to grab attention and succeed in landing you an interview, and if you want that interview to go well, you must research the company and the people involved.
This advice applies to every kind of job, not just in entertainment. It happens that in entertainment, the research is relatively easy to come by.
Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book “Work In Production Part II: How to write a killer cover letter that the UPM will actually want to read”.
Start with their website. Broadly, discover whether the company vision is compatible with the kind of work you want to do. It may be problematic in the future to join a company that is known for slick commercials and web series when your heart’s desire is to work on gritty documentary features. (At least have an exit strategy and time frame in mind, such as a certain number of years, or see if they will allow you an annual sabbatical/hiatus to work on other dream projects.)
Consider the style of the site, the language use – casual, friendly, formal, technical – and how the company describes itself. Examine the images on the site, especially any shots that show people at work, which give you an excellent sense of the company culture and dress code. Try to determine the company’s avatar – that is to say, ideal client or audience demographic.
Read the bios of the principle stakeholders. This is the writing style you should emulate. Then go to IMDb and read about the credits of both company and people. Get a sense of the genres and types of projects they appreciate.
Search online for news about the company and people. Searching in Google Books will bring up magazine articles, as well as books. Also look at sites like Glassdoor.com for reviews of the company by employees and interviewees. See if the company name pops up in the context of other people’s past work. Did any luminaries in the industry get their start at that company? Examine their social media presence. Know that they will check out yours, if you apply to them.
Gain as full an understanding of the company as you can, so you can make sure you are a fit with the company, AND ensure that they see that you are a fit.
Look for unusual features of the company. I had one client, who could use an unusual skill to make her application stand out. The website showed a ping pong table in the company common room, and mentioned that it was an activity they encouraged. My client was a college champion, and took the opportunity mention in her letter that she looked forward to challenging everyone to a match.