What Is a Motivation Letter


What is a Letter of Motivation?

A motivation letter is just one page and explains why you are the ideal candidate for a specific position. Examples of your achievements and interests should be included. When you apply for a position, you generally attach a letter of motivation to a resume. You can also use your letter for other options including applying to a university or college, volunteering, an internship, or if you do not have much job experience.

A motivation letter is different than a cover letter because you are not providing examples of your skills and job experience. Your focus should be on your interests, personality, and the reason you are applying for the position. Your letter is an excellent addition to an entry-level, internship or volunteer resume.

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Why a Motivation Letter is Important

Whether you’re applying for a job, for help paying for school, or for a graduate program, you won’t be the only one applying.  You want to stand out amongst the other applicants.  Your goal is to show the decision-makers why you are the best candidate.    You need to stand out and grab their attention while you can.

You need to take every opportunity you can to shine in your application.  A motivation letter is an important part of that.  It gives you a chance to tell your story in your words in a fast and concise manner.  You want to show them that you are the best and not look like every other candidate.

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Motivational Letter Structure

The only way to answer the question of what is a motivation letter is to explain the structure and basic contents. To write a good letter, you need to introduce yourself, tell your story, and display interest in the organization you are applying to. You can structure your letter in two different ways. The classic letter contains three key paragraphs, your introduction, body, and conclusion.

If you prefer a five to seven paragraph structure, your main paragraph is divided into paragraphs containing one to three sentences. The idea is to emphasize your key points. The structure containing seven paragraphs is more beneficial if you intend to be factual. You can use each paragraph to focus on your achievements. If you prefer to tell a story, your best option is three paragraphs to ensure your story is not interrupted. Regardless of the structure you choose, you should include an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Formating Your Letter of Motivation

The format of your letter is important and must appear professional. Your font should be for professional letters including a 12 pt size. The layout you select must show your professionalism. Your letter spacing for all sides should be one inch. Think long and hard about your title to ensure it will capture the attention of the reader immediately. Consider both your personality and the position you are applying for prior to selecting a letter design. Do not send your letter until it has been proofread. You want to eliminate any potentially embarrassing typos.

Writing The Outline for Your Motivation Letter

To make certain your letter is written in the correct order, you should consider writing an outline first. All of the applicable topics listed below should be included.

  • The reason you are interested in volunteering for the program
  • The reason you chose the non-profit organization or school
  • Any skills that will be advantageous for the position

Take the time to consider all of the details. Some motivational letters require more details regarding future plans and experience than others such as a Ph.D. program. Include information about the organization or school to demonstrate you have the right qualifications for the position. Thoroughly examine your structure and format to ensure a good flow. Continue revising your words until you believe your outline is perfect.

What is Included in an Introduction Paragraph?

Your introduction should be engaging and brief. Explain your motivation and include some information about yourself such as:

  • Contact information
  • Personal details
  • The position you are applying for
  • The reason for your application

What is Included in the Body?

The majority of your motivational letter is the body. You need to sell not only yourself but what you have to offer. You can discuss your passion for the position and tell stories about your achievements. You should remain factual since make-believe stories are easy to discern. If possible offer information to substantiate your qualifications. Mention anything applicable including the degrees you have earned, volunteer work, and experience.

What is Included in the Conclusion?

A conclusion is a summary of your most important points. Briefly summarize your main goals and the reason you are an ideal fit for the position. Remember to say thank you for the consideration prior to concluding your letter. You must also sign your letter and type your name and contact information.

Proofreading Your Letter

When you proofread your letter of motivation, make certain it is professional and concise. Look for any awkward phrases, grammatical errors, and misspelled words and make the necessary corrections. Edit any information you have already mentioned in your resume or application. You want to be unique as opposed to repetitive. Proofreading your letter once will most likely not be enough to find any issues.

If possible, set your motivation letter aside for a few days. When you return, you will be more objective and may spot something you missed. If possible ask a colleague or friend you trust to proofread your letter for spelling and grammar. If your letter does not sound professional and contains a lot of errors, you may lose the position you desire.

Tips to Write an Exceptional Motivation Letter

Following the tips outlined below will help you write the best possible letter of motivation. If you do not take the time to ensure your letter is perfect, you will not stand out from the competition.

Using Strong Language

Strong language is clean, informative, and simple without being redundant. Do not lose sight of the key purpose of your letter. Do not use common cliches because your letter will sound like all of the others. Make certain you do not repeat the same phrases throughout your letter. Using synonyms is a much better option. Your wording should impress the reader and make it clear you are the best candidate for the position.

Following the Guidelines

You need to follow all of the appropriate guidelines including content, length, and formatting. Your guidelines should coincide with the prospective organization or school. If you do not have any specific details, the recommendation is writing roughly one-half to one page using a 12-point basic font including Arial or Times New Roman.

Repeating Information in Your Resume

Do not repeat anything you have already included in your resume. Use your motivational letter to discuss your competitiveness, passion, and qualifications. You want your letter to be valuable by showing the school or organization the reasons you would be an asset.

Using Your Personality

Your personality is different than everyone else. Your perspectives, feelings, and interests are unique to the person you are. Mentioning them in your motivational letter will help you stand out from the crowd. The last thing you want is for your letter to be a carbon copy of a dozen others.

Use your natural voice when you write and talk to the recipient as if they were standing right in front of you. You can write an exceptional letter by including a few interesting details about yourself or your qualifications. A serious tone is recommended because humor is often taken the wrong way or misinterpreted.

Remaining Positive

Your motivational letter should include all of your strengths and best qualities. Avoid talking about any weaknesses. If you include any challenges you have faced in your professional life, make certain you include the methods you used to overcome them and succeed in your endeavors.

Accessible Language

Using accessible language is critical. Accessible language allows your readers to understand what you are saying with no difficulties. This is the best approach for a letter of motivation. When you proofread your letter, look for any unnecessary jargon or complicated terms. You can use simple words to replace any complex passages or sentences. Your sentences should be active, short, and not open to misrepresentation.

Balancing Your Information

Your professional, personal and academic information needs to be balanced. You want the reader to understand who you are as an individual. You also need to understand you are writing a professional, formal letter. This means any personal information you decide to include such as your interests must be used in moderation and appropriate for the position. Consider using formal grammar and language style.

Placing the Focus on Strengths

You should include your strengths as opposed to your limitations or challenges. When you include your strengths, the recipient can grasp your value to the school and organization. Never underestimate the importance of using a positive tone when writing your letter of motivation.

Do Not Lie

Do not lie or stretch the truth in your letter. It is extremely important to remain honest and not exaggerate your experience or skill set. It may be an old cliche, but the truth really does come out in the end. Once you are caught in a lie, the chances of being accepted for the position are between slim and none. Emphasize your success and strengths and believe in what you have to offer. Make certain your letter is a reflection of what you can bring to the position.

Importance of Proofreading

You should proofread your motivation letter several times. Make certain all spelling and grammatical errors are eliminated. If you do not like your letter, you can make changes or start over. Eventually, you will achieve the result you are looking for.  Tools like Grammarly can help you avoid common spelling and grammatical errors.

Getting More Help

We’ve written everything here for you to be able to write your own motivation letter.  If that’s not enough and you need more help, you might want to reach out to a professional.  One of the best places that we’ve found for help is Fiverr.  Fiverr is a  marketplace where you can hire freelancers for projects.  You can either use the search bar here or go to Fiverr and look for someone to help you.  You can also check out a Fiverr starter guide that we put together.

The Final Word

We have discussed the question of what is a motivation letter, the key components of a letter, and why it’s important.  Throughout the site, we have examples of motivation letters for different scenarios like for university, to a graduate program, to a team, and many more.

Writing a motivational letter can be difficult. Using the correct approach is the best way to succeed. Your letter is an excellent option if you do not have a lot of experience or are interested in volunteering or receiving an internship. Use a phrase in your first paragraph to grab the attention of the reader. Explain what you have accomplished and your knowledge in the second paragraph. Explain why you would be a valuable asset to the organization or school in your conclusion.

Never forget your letter is meant to be formal and applicable for a non-profit organization, college, university or specific position. You do not need to write a cover letter because you are not applying for a job. Decide which structure is best for your purpose and remember to include an introduction, body, and conclusion. Use each paragraph to emphasize a specific point.

Your intentions should be discussed in the introduction. Use the body to emphasize your experiences and qualifications. Make certain you thank the reader for considering your application in the conclusion. Take the time to perform the necessary research, make certain your interests and passion are genuine, and do not lie. Once you attach your letter of motivation to your resume, you are ready to step onto the pathway leading to success.

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