5 tips to help you write the winning motivation letter!
These days, there is almost no job offer, university course or scholarship programme that would not require a motivation letter as part of the application process. The tendency goes towards the belief that even if you have an excellent degree, an exceptional professional background and outstanding recommendations, if you are not skilful enough to be able to ’sell yourself’ both in person and in writing, then you are probably not suitable for the position. A motivation letter tests this amongst many other things.
However, if writing skills is not your strength, you should not despair either! If you follow these 5 tips carefully, you will surely be able to come up with the winning motivation letter!
Be aware of your goals!
It is not enough to imagine how much fun it will be to do a PhD in Spain instead of toiling in a full-time job in Hungary, first you should make it clear to yourself why this qualification is important to you, what you will get from it and how you will benefit from the new knowledge in the future. You would like to teach at university or do research? Great! Then you will only have to think about how exactly you will get there and what goal this link serves in the process. Ambition and clearly stated goals are already half of the success in your statement of purpose.
Analyze your audience!
It is important to know exactly what the reason is behind requesting a motivation letter and who is going to read it. While of course in an application for an internship a serious tone and a formal structure is a must, when applying for a voluntary position, it may even gain you extra points if they see that your write in a friendly, funny or extroverted style! Moreover, it is extremely important that even if you feel you have already composed the best motivation letter you possibly could for a previous application, you should write a brand new one for each new application bearing in mind the specific criteria for this opportunity.
Highlight what you have achieved so far!
Although normally you are sending your motivation letter to complement your CV, it does not hurt to remind the committee of your relevant experience and how these will help you in the new task, because it is not always crystal clear from your CV. Moreover, after having read hundreds of CVs, they will surely not remember where you did your internship, but if you tell them how that experience changed your professional approach and what are the things you learnt there that might be useful in the new position, they will be more likely to take it into account.
Now I will share a secret with you about why the members of the scholarship committee hate waking up in the morning: because day after day, one week after the other, they have to read the same words all over again! About how somebody already knew in their childhood that they wanted to become a vet, about how a prolonged stay abroad will open new perspectives and improve language skills and about how they feel this job was made exactly for them. You will surely not want to join the queue and end up in the ’boring’ category? Although sometimes it might seem almost impossible to come up with new ideas, try to do your best! Open with a quote or a short but catchy personal story! Instead of handing in a black and white page, come up with a design! Say something surprising so you will stand out of the crowd! They are not interested in how much you have memorised what is expected from the ideal applicant, but how creative, enthusiastic and special you are and if you possess any qualities that nobody else does. Although of course, the most important thing they will consider is your professional background, one or two facts like you have walked the El Camino or spent a year volunteering in Africa will say just as much about what kind of employee you would be.
Believe in yourself!
Although it might sound incredible, every word you write down is your mirror! From your choice of words and structures, the expert judging board will understand in a few second how you feel about yourself. And even if it is important not to give the impression of a conceited exhibitionist, if they can already see from your motivation letter that you do not believe in yourself and you do not believe either that you are the best candidate for the job, why would they choose you? Even if you still have doubts about being able to make it, every time you sit down to work on your motivation letter, close your eyes for 10 minutes and imagine that you are already working in the given job or that you are studying at your dream university! You will see that nobody will want to reject you after this!