Write a compelling motivation letter with these tips

A motivation letter is used to introduce yourself to a hiring manager or educational program. Here’s what you need to know to put together a strong motivation letter.



Table of Contents

  1. What is a motivation letter?
    1. What are the best times to use a motivation letter?
    2. How to write a motivation letter?
    3. Formatting your motivation letter
    4. Motivation letter example
    5. Motivation letter template
    6. More cover letter tips and resources
  2. FAQ: motivation letter

What is a motivation letter?

Sometimes when applying for a job you really want, you have to give the hiring manager a bit more of a personal approach, especially if it’s your first job or you don’t have a lot of direct experience. This is where a motivation letter comes in. A motivation letter focuses on your future goals, current motivations, and past achievements. This one-page document can help convince a recruiter or hiring manager that you are the perfect candidate for the role they need to fill.

Unlike a cover letter, which discusses your skill set, qualifications, and years of experience, a good motivation letter will discuss your interests and personal achievements in order to give the recruiter an idea of what kind of person you are. Below you’ll find information on when the best time to use a motivation letter would be, how to craft a great one, and which template would help you make the best impression.

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What are the best times to use a motivation letter?

Just as there are times when it is best to use a cover letter, a personal statement, or a statement of intent, there are times when it is best to provide a motivation letter. A motivational letter is likely to be best sent for:

Applying for volunteer work

If you are applying to work with a prestigious non-profit or other volunteer organization, providing a motivation letter with your application could be helpful in securing you a place on the team.

Applying for an internship

While internships are often unpaid, they are still highly competitive. This is especially true if the position is with a major company like Google or Microsoft. Providing a motivation letter when applying for an internship can help you to stand out from other candidates.

Applying for an entry-level position

If you lack the kind of professional experience that would be showcased in a cover letter, providing a motivation letter with your CV could increase your chances of securing a job interview.

Applying for an educational program

While you may already have to write a personal statement as a part of the admissions process, a motivation letter may give you an edge. While a personal statement is about convincing the admissions team you are the best candidate for their institution, a motivation letter can focus on what you intend to do after you accomplished your academic goals. For example, if you intend to continue your education to obtain a master’s degree, you could include this goal in your motivation letter.

In order to create the best motivation letter for your situation, you may need to write more than one draft. Remember to give yourself enough time to perfect your letter before you send it, and be sure to proofread the finished copy in order to make a great impression.

How to write a motivation letter?

Any motivational letter that you write should retain the 5 key components of any good business letter, a header, a compelling introduction, body paragraphs that show off your skills, a call to action, and a closing paragraph. Within these components, you should be able to build an accurate narrative that explains why you’re the best candidate for the role but in a more personalised way than a standard cover letter.

Header and introduction

Your phone number, email and LinkedIn or professional job networking links should be included in the letter’s header. Start with an appropriate salutation. Address the person by name rather than the more impersonal, “Dear Sir/Dear Madam.” Introduce yourself with your full name, the company name, the job title you are applying to and the reason for your application (otherwise called a statement of purpose).

Body paragraph with your best information

You can use a three-paragraph letter format or a five to seven-paragraph letter format where the paragraphs are one to three sentences long. Whichever you choose, your first paragraph should hook the attention of the recruiter or admissions committee. If you have five to seven short paragraphs, focusing each one on a different point can be beneficial. Whatever you choose, your letter’s main body should be factual, and concise. Remember to provide examples of your hard work and focus on your greatest strengths and achievements.

A Call to Action

Your provided call to action should be motivating the recipient to want to contact you back so indicate that you’re interested in discussing the role further. The goal is to make a good first impression and convince them to follow up with you.

Closing Paragraph

Your closing paragraph should briefly summarise the contents of your letter and reiterate your enthusiasm for the role while tying together the things you have talked about in your letter and thanking the admissions committee or hiring managers for their consideration.

If you want inspiration and guidance for writing motivational letters and other forms of business correspondence, CVHelp has informative articles about cover letter basics that could be helpful. Also, consider using a cover letter template. When you combine a well-written motivation letter with the right layout, you have a greater chance to make a good impression on a hiring manager.

Formatting your motivation letter

Considering hiring managers only have a few seconds to scan an applicant’s materials, having an easy-to-read and visually pleasing document is essential. When creating a motivational letter it’s important to make a personal connection while still being professional so keep these four factors in mind when formatting your motivational letter.

1. Fonts

Using an easy-to-read font is a must. The standard is Times New Roman but you can use fonts in a similar family like Arial, Georgia or Calibri. It’s also important to keep the font size of your letter between 11 and 12 points. A font size of 10 or lower will be challenging to read.

2. Spacing

It’s important to format your letter to business standard or ‘block’ formation, which draws the eye to content over white space. A standard letter is left-justified and single-spaced with a double space between paragraphs. Keep your motivation letter positive and personal, while it is important to include correct industry terms, these should be used sparingly. Recruiters notice formulaic language and if popular terms are thrown in without consideration for the context of your letter.

3. Margins

The side, top, and bottom margins should be one inch all the way around. This spacing and readability doesn’t just translate to visual importance, it also can help you pass established keyword assessments by applicant tracking systems as they are done on letters sent to a company as well as your CV. A standardised CV template can also help you maintain standard margins and shows that you can visually reflect the culture of each company.

4. Layout

Once again, the layout of the whole letter should be formatted to the convenience of the recipient. Follow standard business letter format, as even a motivation letter is still a business style letter. Use double-spacing between paragraphs, with a clean, readable in 10 to 12-point font, and a one-inch margin all the way around. Also, make sure to download it in the same format as your cover letters and resume along with matching the fonts and styles. Letters are most commonly submitted as PDFs, but hiring managers may request it in a Word document, plain text, or another format; check the requirements in the posting to make sure.

Motivation letter example

Job seekers looking to really wow a recruiter, which can be more difficult if you don’t have the perfect qualifications. One of the ways you can make a personal connection and establish what you can do for your company. This makes the content of your motivation letter crucial, as its goal is to show the hiring manager that you have enthusiasm for the role, you’ve done the research, and you want to come in and make a great contribution. This motivation letter sample displays all of the key features that a hiring manager would expect from a business letter:

Motivation letter template

Motivation letters rely on more of a personal approach than a cover letter would as they are written to show the hiring manager what your personal goals are in relation to their company, instead of a cover letter which is more focused on completed qualifications. You should do your best to personalise your letter, as this will make your interest in the company look more genuine instead of just another solicitation. Take note of the goals, skills, and qualifications the employer highlights, and remember to discuss how these key points match your goals. If you need more guidance with your sample letter of intent CVHelp has a wealth of templates that you can update for each situation which will save you lots of time.

More cover letter tips and resources

If you want guidance for writing other business letters CVHelp has many resources which could help you to create the perfect motivation letter for your needs. CVHelp also offers plenty of other resources and guides for creating business letters of all varieties:

Check out these resources if you are looking for just the right way to impress a hiring manager with your enthusiasm about a position:

FAQ: motivation letter

Q: How is a motivation letter different from a cover letter?

While a motivation letter focuses on your future goals, current motivations, and past achievements, a cover letter is a document attached to your CV to provide extra information about your work experience and skills. Consider these cover letter templates if you need inspiration for a cover letter.

Q: Do I need separate motivation letters for each job posting?

Yes, you should tailor your letter of motivation to each job application. This will increase your chances of success greatly. Look over the job description and the company website, and gear your letter to emphasise aspects of the company that excites you, and ways in which you can contribute.

Q: Will a motivation letter help me the same way a cover letter would?

Yes, when effectively deployed and well written, a motivation letter can help you secure a new job similar to how a cover letter would. However, the motivation letter is best used when you want to make a more personal connection with a potential employer without necessarily having the direct experience they’re looking for.

Q: What is the purpose of a motivation letter?

Sometimes the candidacy for a scholarship, academic program, or even certain company positions have such a wealth of qualified applicants that you may have to submit supplementary material to really show your interest in the particular school or company that you want to be a part of. This is where the motivation letter comes into play as its purpose is to express your interest and what particular skill and qualifications you possess that would benefit the institution. This can be an especially important tool if you don’t have a lot of direct experience in your field but meet and exceed the education requirements or have a strong network connection, as your motivation letter will be able to express more interest than just sending a CV.

Q: What are the benefits of having a motivation letter?

A motivation letter offers you the chance to demonstrate your uniqueness and what drives you and acts as a way to demonstrate your commitment. To do this, you need to use a less formal style of writing and outline your personal ambitions in an engaging and creative way. This is where you need to make a personal connection to the reader by discussing what the opportunity at this company would mean for your career progress, as well as how aligned you are with the company or organisation’s values.


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