Many of you have heard of or seen them in the past. Whether it was in high school or college you heard your teacher or professor ramble on about how motivation letters will only increase your chances of getting that job you applied for. Well, what if they were right?
A motivation letter, which is similar to a cover letter, is crucial to any job, academic, volunteer, or other position that you are applying for. Motivation letters need not be entire novels about your life, but rather a snapshot of the important things you have accomplished that will make you a sound candidate for the job you are applying to.
Motivation letters do not just extend to jobs. They also reach to applications such as scholarships, education programs, college admissions, and so on. Below are some reasons why a motivation letter is important.
It Makes You Stand Out
There are many rumors that circulate about motivation letters, and that is that most employers do not read them. Odds are, that is completely true and the employer in fact does not usually read your motivation letter, but there are still multiple reasons why one should be written.
Motivation letters show:
- Attention to detail
- A lasting first impression
By writing a motivation letter in addition to your resume or application or even a letter of interest, shows that you are actively aware of the environment you want to enter into. If at the end of the day an employer has a stack of resumes to rummage through, odds are the ones that are left have cover letters attached to them.
Motivation letters are also a chance to showcase your personality and illustrate to the recipient or adjudicator of such a letter who you are beyond numbers and previous positions. This is especially helpful for new entrants into the workforce.
Say for example you are anywhere from 18-21 years old. Odds are you do not have a myriad of prior jobs and experience to rest your laurels on. You may have one or two jobs that have taught you valuable lessons that you can include in your motivation letter to let your potential employer know you mean business.
A motivation letter also lets the person who is reading it know that you are excited about this open position. It goes without saying that in order to live in a first-world country you need money, and in order to obtain the money you need a job.
This is the baseline for most people in America. When applying to a job, a resume is required, but motivation letters are optional, and that is why writing one makes you stand out. It shows that you want this job not only for the money, but because you want to be doing something you are happy to do.
You might not think it, but writing a motivation letter also perpetuates to the employer that you are someone who can pay attention to detail. Since motivation letters are not required for most applications, making sure you complete it will attract a certain positive attention to your resume. Most employers want workers who have great attention to detail because details make up the larger picture.
Not only will motivation letters provide you with all of the above, but they will give your employer a lasting first impression if they choose to read it.
It Helps Your Chances of Getting Hired or Selected
Surveys have shown time and time again that motivation letters and cover letters help decide whether to select a candidate or not. Even in today’s age where resumes are run through software that finds certain keywords and phrases, sometimes there are too many candidates with the same criteria, which is where motivation letters come into play.
Applications for scholarships, graduate programs and schools are just as important as for jobs. The goal of the motivation letter is to show why you are a great candidate and that may not always have to do with your work or educational qualifications. You have a story and a history. Every candidate does. You want to show why your story and your background make you a great candidate. Show why you want the position and why they should select you.
Even if a job does not offer the option of a motivation letter, you should make it your duty to offer a customized motivation letter that speaks to why you think you deserve this job and why they should hire you over everyone else.
It shows the Who and Why Behind the Qualifications
Anyone can obtain the qualifications for the job they are applying to, but not everyone is the same. From personal experience, resumes are only one step out of many to obtaining the position you are applying for, and motivation letters give you that boost to the interview. As most employers put it, an interview (in most fields) is usually not to see whether you can do the job (that is what the resume is for), but to see how you will fit in with the company culture and to screen what type of person you are.
Motivation letters help advance this process so the interviewer can ascertain what type of person you might be and if you could fit in with everyone else. Motivation letters also help with explain certain situations, such as:
- Helping an interviewee realize their career goals and objectives
- Your motivation for applying
- Explaining a gap in employment
- Your priorities for your personal and professional life
- The interviewees end goal within this job or program
- Your educational background
- To demonstrate your life experiences
Reinforces Why You Want What You Are Applying For
Sometimes we apply to jobs, colleges, or scholarships for reasons other than we want them for ourselves. Sometimes our parents make us do it, or it is done out of necessity for financial reasons. But writing these motivation letters may help you realize what you really are looking for in life.
Even while writing your motivation letter, if you realize the position you are applying for is not really what you want to end up doing, this should not completely deter you from pursuing the applications.
Say for example that you apply for an accounting job but while writing your motivation job you realize accounting is not the field that will bring you joy in your work. But, you realize that you would want to be working in the finance field instead. My advice would be to still pursue the job, and if possible, use the job as a stepping stone to get to where you really want to be.
Most employers know that jobs have a certain expected turnover within their business, so do not get discouraged if you are trying to find a job and you realize through your motivation letter that this is not the place for you. Because you can either stop applying or realize this will not be your end job. This is another reason why a motivation letter is important because it can help steer your path in life.
Motivation Letters Help You to Realize Your Biggest Strengths
Obviously, when you write your motivational letter, you are not going to talk about all of the bad experiences in your life and explain how you are the worst candidate for the job, college, or scholarship. And why would you?
When you write these, you want to present your best self. The moments that make you shine brighter than the other candidates for the position you are applying to are ideally what you should write about. But this requires a lot of self-reflection and thought.
One has to think of their most redeeming qualities and those parameters in their life that create who they are as a worker in life. Some character traits to think about when trying to demonstrate your ability to be marketable/hireable may include:
- Entrepreneurial skills
- Critical thinking
Another facet of motivation letters you want to include is certain skill sets you have. Maybe these are strong communication skills that have gained you some knowledgeable experience. Maybe you can include how strong your work ethic is by writing about how you can handle multiple things at once in a day.
Leadership skills are a must-have in your motivational letter. Even though most positions people apply to are entry-level positions, employers want to see leadership qualities in their workers, which creates a climate of autonomy, making you seem more able to do your job, take on more responsibility, and initiate some work on your own.
If you are applying to college or a scholarship, the people who are picking you also want to see that they are giving a spot or money to someone who knows how to lead and be able to manage different tasks and people.
Motivational Letters Are Important to Show You Are Serious
Motivational letters are good and dandy, but they do nothing for you if you do not write why you want the position you are applying for. Now, this does not mean you should write somewhere in your cover letter that you “are serious about this application.” This has many negative implications.
The negative implication is that the employer will think you applied to other positions and were not serious about those, which leaves doubts about if you are truly serious about their application. Instead, how you convey you are serious about the application through your motivational letter is by combining your character traits and skill sets through your experiences.
This is yet another reason why a motivation letter is important because it will make you realize the defining moments in your life that make up your character.