Most people tend to confuse a letter of motivation with a cover letter. But there’s a big difference although you might think both are interchangeable.
A cover letter is an introductory letter, written by people to convince hiring managers to read their resume and to employ them. Cover letters provide important information about how your skills, work experiences and education align with the job you are applying for.
In other words, a cover letter is a written communication that serves to introduce an accompanying document such as a resume or curriculum vitae.
So, then what’s a letter of Motivation?
A letter of motivation or motivational letter is a one-page introduction letter used when applying for an internship, job or for admission into a university. The letter explains important information about your personality, drives, experiences, and future goals. It indicates why you are suitable for the particular job or position. This makes your CV or resume stand out.
In other words, the purpose of a letter of Motivation should contain your last powerful closing lines. It should describe what motivates you, your aspirations, your reasons for applying and your finest achievements. Although motivational and cover letters follow similar structure, they have different writing contents and purposes.
But we will not delve into cover letters and how to write one, our main focus in this article is how to write an exceptional motivational letter. At the end of this article, you will appreciate the difference between a cover letter and a motivational letter.
Structure or Format of a letter of Motivation
There are five main structures or formats of writing a great letter of Motivation. These five main structures are the basic steps to note down when writing a motivation letter. It will guide you on how to write that exceptional letter of motivation, leaving your reader astonished.
These five main levels of structure are;
This is a short paragraph containing personal information about you and the recipient. It includes full name, both email and home address, contact details and date. Usually, you write your information details at the top right while the recipient is below on the left side of the letter.
You can choose to write yours at the top centre in a heading format while the recipient’s details stay on the left. You can also write both your information and that of the recipient on the left-hand side of the page. It’s always important to write your information details because it is what the recipient will address his or her reply to.
Specifying the organization or the institution you are applying to, shows that you are well aware of the person or institution your letter is addressed to. This paints you in a good light.
An example of how your information details should be displayed is;
Jacinta A. Whitney Johnson
P.O. Box 345, Dk. Poisson Street
Mr. Williams S. Azumah
Department of Economics
University of Ghana
Salutation or Appropriate Greetings
Using the appropriate greeting is very important in addressing the recipient. This will determine if the recipient keeps reading your letter or not. It’s always advisable to use a formal greeting when it comes to motivational letters. There are numerous salutations to be used depending on whether you know the name or gender of the recipient.
The best option to stick with is to address the recipient by name. That’s if you know the name. For instance, you can use ‘Dear Mr Williams [Dear First Name] or ‘Dear Mr Smith [Dear Last Name]. But if it’s to an unknown gender you can use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or simply use job title salutations such as, ‘Dear Professor or To the HR.
In cases where you don’t know the job title, gender or the name of the recipient, you can use the name of the company or institution. An example is, ‘Dear Premium Industry or To Oxford University’. It is not advisable to use less formal greetings such as ‘Hello, Hi or To whom it may concern’. They sound passive and informal.
Introduction To the Letter of Motivation.
The introduction is also known as the opening letter and it is below the salutation. It should be a paragraph of 3 to 4 sentences.
It contains the objective of the application. Your introduction should steal your recipient’s attention and reflect your intentions, goals and ambitions.
You can begin by introducing yourself; who you are and what you do.
Then state why you are applying for the position or a short reason for writing the letter. If it’s for a university you are applying to then you should state the programme you are applying for and a short reason why.
An example can be;
Dear Principal Jamie,
I, Anita Williams, a Bachelor’s Degree holder in Business Administration would like to express my interest in applying for the Master Degree Scholarship programme in Public Administration at Oxford University. My interest in administration and dream of becoming an acclaimed CEO has geared me to apply for the scholarship.
Body of the Letter of Motivation
It is the major part of a motivational letter. This is where you state the story behind your greatest personal achievements, skills, experiences and determination.
You must explain in detail the passion behind what you are applying for in the body. This section is what makes your letter worth reading, captivating and maintaining the reader’s attention.
When it comes to the body, don’t waste time and just go straight to the point. And the best approach to achieve this is to be factual throughout and avoid exaggeration. The body can be 2 to 4 paragraph structures with 6 sentences maximum. This way, you can use each paragraph to explain your passions and specific achievements that will impress your reader.
Here is an example:
My passion for entrepreneurship started during my internship at Incorpx Institute. I am now seeking to explore a new role with an ambitious, challenging and exciting company where I can build my career and sharpen my business managerial skills. I am geared to pursue my career in a top agency such as yours in order to become a seasoned and professional business executive.
The following achievements demonstrate my qualifications for the available position:
- As an Operations Manager at Premium Industries, I implemented cost reduction and increased production.
- Reduction in employee turnover.
Concluding Your motivational letter
The conclusion is the last important part of any writing. In the motivational letter, the conclusion is a summary of the body of the letter.
In one paragraph, you can state your future plans, summarize your points and briefly state how you can be an asset or how your skills will benefit the reader’s company or university when given the opportunity.
You can also conclude by reminding them of your attached CV or resume. Express your desires to work and grow with the company when given the opportunity.
You can state how you would be available for an interview and simply end by showing gratitude to your reader for taking the time to read your letter. And end with a ‘Thank You’.
Here is a practical example:
Considering my achievements and experience so far, I am certain I would be a valuable addition to your team and exceed your expectations when given the opportunity. Attached is my resume for your perusal and I would welcome the opportunity for a personal interview.
Thank you for considering my letter.
Here are Some Factors To Consider When writing the body of a Motivational letter;
Factors To Consider When writing the body of a Letter Motivation
1. Have an outline in mind
Before you begin to write the body of a motivational letter, draft an outline. With this, you know specific information that should appear in your letter and what should not.
Write down your main points.
These main points should cut across your experiences and skills that will benefit the organization, your interests and passion for applying and finally your finest achievements to persuade the reader.
2. Check the Length of Your Paragraphs
Use the 5 main structure paragraphs such as the information address, salutation, introduction, body and conclusion.
Also, never exceed the required one page length. The body can be 3 to 4 separate paragraphs with four or five sentences in a paragraph. This way you avoid lengthy paragraphs and use short sentences. This makes it easier for the recipient to read and understand the letter.
3. Use Professional Tone
It is important to keep a professional tone when it comes to writing the body of your motivational letter at all times.
Avoid humor that would let you come off as a joke and not be taken seriously. Also avoid negative phrases such as stating your challenges and the tone of your letter must not be entreating. It is best to keep a moderate expression of your main points.
4. Be Concise and Write with Precision
Your paragraphs must be short and concise. Stick to facts and avoid unimportant information.
For a selling motivational letter, the body must cover the basics. Explain your main points such as your passion and achievements in the best possible way.
Be non-exaggerative and avoid generalization of your key points. In order words be personal.
5. Check Punctuations and Proofread.
It is important to look out for any misspellings, grammatical errors, subject-verb agreement and abbreviations. Use a standard font size and type throughout if it is a typed letter and not handwritten. Complex words should be replaced with simple words. Be mindful of the punctuations you use.
Make sure every sentence has an appropriate punctuation mark. And carefully read through severally to detect any final mistakes before sending your letter. With this you avoid bad perceptions which will have your application to be rejected.
Having discussed the format or structure of writing a motivational letter and its factors to consider; you can now write and differentiate between a letter of motivation and a cover letter. With these tips, you can now write not just any letter of motivation but a letter that would make you stand out, allowing the reader to appreciate and consider you as the perfect applicant.
Kindly share with me your tips for writing a motivational letter.
Five Key Takeaways from this Article
- Your skills and achievements should be relevant to the organization’s requirements.
- Use a formal voice, avoid humor and use simple vocabularies.
- Make your goal clear and avoid exaggeration in the body of the letter.
- Use interesting information to make your motivation stand out.
- Avoid identical overlap by making sure your motivational letter is in line with your CV or resume.