The MOTIVATIONAL LETTER
The letter of motivation can be included in the application in addition to the cover letter. In the case of applications for study places, funding programs or scholarships, it is often even compulsory. The letter of motivation goes into detail about the personal suitability of the applicant and gives reasons why he fits the position and the organization very well.
The term letter of motivation is sometimes used interchangeably with a cover letter. In most cases, however, an application does not require a letter of motivation, but a classic cover letter. The letter of motivation is an additional document, the third page of the application after the cover letter and CV.
Cover letter vs. Motivation letter
As many applicants don't know the difference between a classic cover letter and a motivation letter format. However, a clear separation is important to get the best out of your applications.
Generally, cover letters and motivation letters are structured similarly but have a different focus. The cover letter mainly highlights, why you are suitable for the position and which formal qualifications you have. The particular personal suitability and motivation are also mentioned but are more on the side. In the motivation letter, the inner drive and the particular suitability are highlighted and you explain why you absolutely want to get the position, the university place, or the scholarship.
In contrast to the cover letter, the motivation letter is less about qualifications and experience but more about individual motivation, thus the reasons and goals of the applicant. The focus is on individuality, personality, and personal goals.
What should be included in a motivation letter?
As the name already illustrates, it is about the motivation and the personal reasons for the application. These are very individual and can be related to the applicants' biography, values, or career goals.
The following questions can be helpful for composing the content:
- What are my particular strengths?
- Why should I, of all people, get this position/scholarship/university place?
- Why am I a particularly good fit for the company/university/support program?
- Why should I be sponsored?
- How does the position/scholarship/university place fit my previous professional career?
- How will the position/scholarship/university place help me advance?
- How can I support the goals and purpose of the company/university/support -program?
What are my professional and personal goals?
Even though you have a lot of freedom when writing the motivation letter, it is advisable to always refer to the company, the pursued scholarship, the university place or the position. Always keep your focus on the goal: show how you are the perfect candidate! It should also match with the CV and cover letter. Make sure that the motivation letter and the whole application have a common thread.
Tip: Collect ideas and look at examples
If you have difficulties wording your motivation letter, start with a brain storming regarding your motivation and goals and look at some samples and wordings.
Tip: If you have difficulties wording your motivation letter, start with a brain storming regarding your motivation and goals and look at some samples and wordings.
Why a motivation letter?
A motivation letter is often required when applying for scholarships at charitable foundations, university places, research projects or semesters abroad. Typically, it is a mandatory part of such an application and is requested in the corresponding job advertisement.
It is also possible to include a motivation letter in an application voluntarily and without being prompted, as a special extra, so to say. In this case, the additional letter can list points that did not fit in the cover letter but are still important. The applicant should only consider this, however, when the motivation letter offers a real added value and the application happens under special circumstances, for example, if it is an unsolicited application.
If you already struggle with writing the cover letter, you should avoid writing an additional motivation letter. It does not make sense, to artificially expand the application with a motivation letter if none is required and all the important facts have been mentioned in the cover letter. Here, as always, it should be kept in mind that the HR manager has little time and only picks up the application for a short moment.
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Examples for motivation letters
Motivation letter for scholarship
For example, anyone who writes a letter of motivation for an application for a scholarship should address their academic successes and goals. You should work out why you can expect above-average performance or why you are particularly worthy of support. Societal and social commitment, as well as academic achievements, form the core of the letter of motivation.
Studying abroad Applicants who apply to study abroad should show why the stay abroad will bring them further, why the chosen partner university or study program suits them and how they themselves and society will benefit from the knowledge, experience and contacts gained abroad in the future. Previous stays abroad, foreign language skills, personal characteristics, and motives of the applicant are the focus of the writing.
Study abroad Applicants who apply to study abroad should show why the stay abroad will bring them further, why the chosen partner university or study program suits them and how they themselves and society will benefit from the knowledge, experience and contacts gained abroad in the future. Previous stays abroad, foreign language skills, personal characteristics, and motives of the applicant are the focus of the writing.
In addition when applying for a position
If a motivation letter is additionally included in an application, either voluntarily or on request, it has to be clearly separated from the cover letter. In this case, the motivation is only mentioned in the cover letter and then explained in greater detail in the motivation letter. Instead, the cover letter focuses on the highlights of the CV, the interest in the position, and the professional suitability of the applicant. In the motivation letter, the applicant then shows in detail their personal suitability in order to convince the HR manager how well they fit into the company and to the position. Those who can manage to put their passion into words and indicate that they have researched the company's values, products and working method, gain an advantage.
Structure of the motivation letter
Similar to the cover letter, the motivation letter is also structured into an introduction, main part, and conclusion, however, it is less strict and more flexible. It is particularly important that the structure is sensible and it is easy to follow.
It is different if the motivation letter is requested in the job advertisement and specific information on the content or questions are given. These must be followed and implemented as precisely as possible.
If there are no requirements for the motivation letter, the design is more open. After addressing the correct contact person and a short introduction, the actual main part of the letter of motivation follows, which can be designed quite freely. Here, the applicant themselves chooses whether to focus on the motivation for the application, to concentrate on competencies and skills or, for example, to write about their passions and goals. It is important that there is good argumentation and that the text as a whole is clear and coherent - that means it convinces the reader.
Tip: Tell a story
A common thread is in the text in connection with good arguments and precise examples are more important than the classical structure of the form of a cover letter.
Length and placement
Generally, the motivation letter is one A4 page - except when the job advertisement requests a certain word count or a number of pages. If the motivation letter is the main part of the application, for example for a research project or a scholarship, it can be 2-3 pages long. As always, be cautious in regards to the length as the HR manager has little time and wants to have important information pointed out clearly. If no particular length is specified, you can enquire about it on the phone - this also highlights additional interest. Generally, it is recommended to get in contact with the company via phone when applying.
Normally, the motivation letter is the "third page" or page 3 of the application after the cover letter and CV.
The heading can be a bit more personal and less formal than in the cover letter. It should make the HR manager want to read on.
The applicant can, for example, choose a heading in one of the following styles:
- About me
- Why I am applying for/at XYZ
- What you should know about me
- My motivation
- Why should you hire/support me?
-Why I am the perfect fit for you
Layout and design
The motivation letter can either be created as a continuous text or with bullet points. A continuous text has the advantage that the applicant can go more into depths and concentrate solely on the argumentation. In contrast, bullet points make it easier to understand for the reader and are visually appealing.
The design of the document should match the design of the rest of the application and more or less follow the format of a cover letter.
Common mistakes in the motivation letter
The motivation letter should be taken seriously and well thought out as it is especially important when applying for university places or scholarships. In many cases, applicants don't spend enough time on writing the motivation letter and are not specific enough in their wording.
In case that the application also contains a cover letter, there should be a clear difference between a cover letter and a motivation letter - otherwise, a motivation letter is unnecessary.
Furthermore, the motivation letter should offer good arguments and point out the added value instead of justifying or rambling.
Checklist motivation letter
- The motivation letter should differ from the cover letter
- It is a maximum of one A4 page long
- The design matches the rest of the documents
- A common thread and good examples, as well as arguments, are important
- The motivation letter is individual and personal
- Spelling and grammatical errors should be avoided at all costs
Templates and samples for the application
An all around convincing application has convincing content and the correct form. Our application templates guarantee a positive first example - a convincing design can put you in a special light.
Furthermore, you save a lot of time by using a template as you instantly start with a professional layout. You can concentrate on writing and then simply fill out all documents from CV to motivation letter. The layouts of the Word templates are 100% customisable so that your application documents corresponds to your ideas down to every detail. This way you add a special element to your application and make it stand out from the crowd.
Tip: Choose a design that matches the profession
Studies show that the design of the application determines the important first impression. Therefore, the content, as well as the format, should be convincing.