What is a Motivational Letter and Why it Matters?

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When presented with the question of “Why would you like to be part of this organization?” you find yourself staring at a blank page, thinking of how to correctly word “I’m passionate about going to college so I don’t starve to death.

Two hours and three coffees in, you’ve scrolled through your Facebook newsfeed (twice), watched one episode of the last season of Game of Thrones, sent angry tweets to its creators, and donated for the knee surgery of two dogs. You go back to your open Word doc and you have only managed to write: “This organization seems like fun” or “I’ll totally be a great fit”

You know you are not this generic or basic. You’re a capable guy or gal who has a lot to offer and there are genuine reasons behind your decision to apply.

It’s just hard to put it into words… And we get that!

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of creating a motivation letter that gets you accepted anywhere.

We’re Going to Cover:

  • What a Motivational Letter Is (And Why It Matters)
  • How to Structure a Motivational Letter
  • To Write a Motivational Letter [+Some Helpful Tips to Get Those Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the Paper]

What is a Motivational Letter and Why it Matters?

A motivational letter is a one-page letter that’s used to describe why you are the perfect candidate for a certain position. It is usually attached to your resume. 

You are required to write a motivational letter in these 4 specific scenarios…

  1. You are applying to get admitted to an educational program at a college or university (undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate). 
  2. Applying to work at a non-profit organization.
  3. You are applying as a volunteer in an organization.
  4. Are applying for an internship in a company.

The motivational letter shouldn’t be confused with a cover letter, the purpose of which is to highlight how specific information on your resume matches a job opening. Think of a cover letter as the introduction to your resume for a hiring manager and your motivational letter as the powerful closing sales pitch for a university or non-profit. 

So why exactly does the motivational letter matter? You’re a doer more than a talker: you’ve listed everything there is to know about you on your resume. That should be enough, right? Wrong! 

All organizations are looking for people who genuinely want to be there and are excited about what they do. The intent should be your driving motivation! 

Writing a good motivational letter can be an absolute game-changer. It can provide a boost for your resume, but also make up for lacking required skills.

How to Structure a Motivational Letter

A good motivational letter is a one-pager where you introduce yourself, your story, and show your interest in the position or organization you are applying to.

There are two main ways to structure your motivational letter:

  1. Using the classic 3 main paragraphs structure, where your motivational letter has the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. 
  2. Using the 5-7 paragraph structure, where you divide your main body paragraph into smaller 1-3 sentence paragraphs according to the main points.

Now, which one do YOU go for? The rule of thumb is if you want to be more factual and to the point, go for the 7-paragraph structure. This way, you can use each body paragraph to discuss specific achievements or points.

If, on the other hand, you’re going for a more story-telling approach, you’d go for the 3 paragraph option, so as not to break the flow of the story.

The Structure of a Motivational Letter

Whichever structure you go for, it should consist of 3 main parts: the introduction, body, and conclusion. Here’s what to include in each one:

Introduction: A short, engaging pitch about yourself and why you are applying. Here, you can include:

  • Personal information. Who are you and what do you do?
  • What are you applying for? Where?
  • An intro to the bulk of your essay. Mention the general reason on why you’re applying, and then deep-dive in the bulk of your motivational letter.

And of course, don’t forget to mention contact information on top.

For example:

To: School/Organization Name

First Name Last Name

myemail@mail.com

Phone Number

Relevant Social Media (LinkedIn, Quora, GitHub, etc.)

Example of Introduction for Motivational Letter

Dear [Name of The Contact Person]

My name is [Your name] and I would like to express my interest in applying for the Doctoral program in political science at [University Name]. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a politician and helping give back to my country, and I believe that a Ph.D. in politics from [University Name] would set me miles ahead to reaching my goal.

Body of the Motivational Letter: this is the main bulk of your motivational letter. This is where you really sell yourself, mentioning stories behind your achievements, skills, and passion for whatever you’re applying for.

Try to be as factual as possible – anyone that frequently reads motivational letters can tell made-up stories from the real ones. When possible, you can also use metrics to back up your qualifications.

Things You Can Mention in Your Motivational Letter: 

  • My passion for ______ started when ______. 
  • I want to ______ because ______. 
  • I have been part of _________ for ___ months/years. It’s the best thing for me because _______. 
  • I remember once when I ________, which made me realize that I _______.
  • _______ resonates with me because _________.
  • What distinguishes me from my peers is __________.

Here’s a Practical Example:

I developed my passion for Online Marketing during my internship at [company name]. Working in a small startup allowed me to get surface-level experience in most digital marketing channels. Now, I would like to deep-dive and gain advanced know-how by attending the [university name] program in Digital Marketing.

Conclusion: 

Finally, you can wrap up the motivational letter and send it in. In this section, you can:

  • Briefly summarize your main points – “I believe I’d be a good fit for the program because of __________
  • Mention your overarching goal – “I’d love to be a part of _______, as it would allow me to ___________.”
  • Thank the reader and conclude the motivational letter

Now that you know how to structure a motivational letter, let’s move on to the contents!

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