How To Write A Motivation Letter
When you are looking to get into a master’s program or applying for a job or a scholarship, you may be required to write a motivation letter. A motivation letter explains why you are the best candidate for the position or program you are applying for. It details your skills, suitability, experience, and reasons why you are applying for the position.
It may be attached to your resume if it is a job position that you are looking for or an academic application if it is for a higher education program or scholarship. Motivation letters are not usually used for job applications, as employers or recruiters ask for a cover letter.
However, you may write and submit a motivation letter for a job position for organizations such as purpose-driven and not-for-profit organizations, to become a volunteer or for a paying or non-paying internship. You will often send your motivation letter with the transcripts of your academic performance or a resume.
A motivation letter is also called a statement of purpose. The purpose of a motivation letter is to present a powerful written speech of why you are an excellent fit for that university program or organization.
Difference Between A Motivation Letter And A Cover Letter
A motivation letter and a cover letter may seem similar because you are expounding on why you are the best fit for what you are applying for; however, they are different.
- A cover letter is meant for a job application and will often accompany a resume. It highlights specific features of your resume and expounds them in detail based on the job you are applying for. A motivation letter, on the other hand, will be about you, your passions, desires, and goals, in addition to your suitability for the position.
- A cover letter is an introduction to your resume. On the other hand, a motivation letter explains how well you will fit into a program based on the description of your motivation and goals.
- Recruiters and employers primarily request cover letters. In contrast, a motivation letter is used mainly by university admission offices for educational programs, institutions of higher learning, volunteer programs, internships, non-profit organizations, and others.
Motivation Letter Structure
If you are wondering how to write a motivation letter, there is a structure that you can use to ensure that you have covered everything pertinent to writing a successful letter. You may receive guidelines on how long your letter should be, and you should strive to present all your information within the page limit.
Often, the motivation letter will be one page, and you must fit the most important information in that one page and clearly show your interest in why you are suitable for the organization or institution.
There are two ways to structure your motivation letter. These are:
- The three-paragraph structure where you will have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion
With this general structure, ensure that the introduction is captivating and draws the reader in. The body should have the points you are writing about, while the conclusion neatly ties up everything in your letter, highlighting the main points. The best way to write your letter using this structure is to use a storytelling method instead of highlighting points. This method ensures that each idea flows into the next while mentioning your achievements or points you would like to highlight.
- The five to seven paragraph structure is where you have smaller paragraphs that will carry the main points.
You can also structure the body of your letter so that each achievement or each point you are highlighting will be in a paragraph to explain it with enough depth. You may have to choose the best points of your accomplishments. The letter’s main body will have smaller paragraphs with fewer sentences, typically three, based on the points. It is the more formal way of writing a motivational letter as you will present each point with a brief explanation making it seem more formal and fact-based.
Parts Of A Motivation Letter
For both structures, there are certain features that each part of the letter should have.
Just before the introduction, your contact information should appear at the top of the letter. Be as detailed as possible to give the interviewer many multiple contact options to reach you.
Some of the contact details to include are: Your full names with a first and last name, email address, phone number and relevant professional social media handles such as LinkedIn. Do not provide social-based handles such as Facebook or Instagram as these are not necessary.
The introduction should be short and should begin by telling the reader who you are. You can include personal information such as who you are, what you are currently doing, where you are, and touch on your previous experience or suitability. The introduction is also an excellent place to say what position or program you are applying for and why you are applying. The introduction should not have too much detail because you will give additional detail in the body of the letter.
Even though the introduction should be short, do not make it seem too formal but draw the reader in with a conversational or excited tone. Some of the things that you can include in your introduction can reference a fact about the organization that interests you.
You can include relevant data or research based on the subject or position you are applying for or one of your significant accomplishments pertinent to your application. You can name drop to capture attention or refer to news items about the organization. All these should be done tastefully and should draw the reader in.
The body of the letter is where you give details and explanations. After giving a sort of headline about why you are applying for the position in the introduction, it is time to provide details. The body should include your achievements and highlight those most relevant to what you are applying for.
If, for instance, you are applying for a volunteer position in an environmental conservation organization, highlight your experience and achievements in that area. Any work you have done that is environmentally based would be most relevant. Any other volunteer experience and achievements are also relevant here.
Describe your academic and professional journey picking out the most relevant points and going into detail about them. Detail the skills you have acquired, why they would help in the program or position you are applying for, and your motivations based on the organization and institution’s vision.
Your motivations and aspirations must align with the organization you are putting in your application to convince the reader you will be a good fit for them. It is also imperative not to lie or exaggerate your skill set or professional or academic achievements as these can easily be proven or disapproved.
If the interviewer finds you lying, the chances are that you may not proceed to the next stage of interviews or consideration. Be authentic, concise, and consistent.
Some helpful guidelines to ensure that you include the most pertinent information include:
- Write about your passion for the subject matter
- Your aspirations based on your application
- What your most significant achievements have been and why they were a considerable part of your academic or professional journey
- What you have learned along your professional journey and hoping to learn or achieve in the position or program
- What interests you most in what you are applying for
- What sets you apart from other people based on your skill set, experience, and motivations
Your conclusion should summarise the main points of the body and why you are a great addition to the program or organization, and your goals once you join the institution. When writing a motivation letter, you should have a call to action to the reader without coming off as too pushy.
The conclusion should have a grateful statement and thank the reader for the opportunity and their time. A call to action is a statement such as ‘I look forward to hearing from you while ‘Thank you’ before signing off is sufficient for a grateful statement.
Helpful Guidelines On How To Write A Motivation Letter
You can use some tips to ensure that your motivation letter stands out from the many that the readers receive.
- Follow the guidelines. If there are page limits, it is best to adhere to them and not surpass the limit, or your letter is way shorter than the limit. For example, if you have to write two pages, do not submit half a page of the letter.
If there are font specifications, spacing guidelines, and others, follow them to the letter. If the institution you are applying to has not provided the font and spacing guidelines, go for an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman or Arial in font size 12.
- Write short sentences in an active voice. Short sentences are easier to read than long ones. Explain ideas in simple language rather than complex words or using jargon. Where you use acronyms, ensure that you write them out in full for clarity.
Do not use flowery language or filler too many filler words. Ensure that your thoughts flow coherently. For instance, if you are using storytelling, ensure that the timelines are consistent and there are no gaps in the story or areas where the reader is left with unanswered questions.
- Communicate your personality, interest, and excitement in your writing as you explain your motivations, experiences, and achievements. Do not be too formal without any personality. However, do not be informal. Don’t use slang or jargon. Do not copy other people’s letters as it will feel unreal. Write about your experiences and motivations as these are unique.
Use your tone as this will set you apart from other applicants. An excellent way to write in your tone is to write as if you were speaking about the letter’s contents to the reader.
- Write about the most critical and pertinent strengths, achievements and aspirations. With limited space, you may not have the space to fit in everything you want to, so choose the best points you wish to highlight. Also, focus more on your strengths than weaknesses. You want to present yourself in the best light but not a false one.
- Proofread your letter preferably after some time. Do not proofread it immediately after you finish it, as you may miss some errors. Take some time, then proofread it. Correct any grammatical errors, unclear sentences, wrong spellings, and punctuation. You may also tighten some sentences and add or delete some information. If you can get someone else to review and proofread the letter for you, it will also help catch any mistakes you may have missed.
Best Formatting For A Motivation Letter
Formatting your letter will make it easy to read and presentable. Some general guidelines you can use to format your letter are:
- Use a 12-point size font with a professional font type such as Times New Roman or Arial.
- Have consistent formatting throughout the letter. If you are double spacing, have double spacing throughout. For single spacing, the same.
- Experts recommend that you use I-inch or 1.15-inch spacing between sentences and double spacing between the paragraphs. This spacing is the most pleasing formatting to the eye.
- It is best to have one-inch margins on all sides of the document.
You can look out for some previously shared motivation letters for some creative ideas.