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Writing a Good Motivation Letter: The Key to Success

An important element of applying to a university is the motivational letter. This piece of self-written text is a requirement in most places, deserving no less attention and care than your CV or grades.

For simplification purposes, we differentiate between an educational and a professional motivation letter. The first time the writing of a motivation letter is asked of you is probably when you apply to a university, and its purpose is to show the people evaluating your application that you indeed belong to the university and you would be a good match for the program the institute offers.

This document should emphasize on your previous achievements, your past performance, your ambitions and plans for the future, and the motivation and reasons behind your choices. It is very important that a motivation letter is not entirely the same as a personal statement: while the latter is more focused on your personality and preferences, the former has to be governed by a tasteful balance between your professional background and personal motivations. The two sometimes go hand-in-hand, or you might be required to submit both; what matters is to know how to do whichever is asked of you properly. For this reason, here are a few tips that will definitely come in handy when you are faced with the task of crafting a document that might mean the success of your future application.

First, it is very important that you research a bit about the university, the program, their academic activities and values in order to be familiar with their requirements and the areas in which you have the chance to impress. It is somewhat impossible to even start a motivation letter without this step, really.

Next, with this document you should focus on presenting yourself in an honest but convincing way. Don’t be afraid to write about areas where you would like to improve, but definitely don’t let them overshine your strengths, experiences and positive attributes. Overall, you have to be original and consistent throughout, presenting the appearance of a future student that the university can only benefit from.

As per the formal requirements, a motivation letter is strict, but not completely inflexible. It is advised that you follow a 3-part structure, giving way to an introduction and a conclusion or final statement, besides the obvious main bulk in the middle. Be concise and straight to the point, evaluators usually appreciate a short (maximum 1 page) but well-written motivation letter.

A motivation letter for a job application does not differ significantly from the previously mentioned version, sharing a lot of its basic purposes and requirements. This letter has to be nicely connected to your CV, so that neither of them make the other redundant. Together with the collection of your qualifications and experiences, they ought to make a compelling case for your hiring.

The general research and knowledge about the job apply to this kind of motivation letter as well, as knowing the expectations and responsibilities you are signing up for is crucial. It is also very important to put yourself in the place of the person evaluating your motivation letter and your application in general. Do not focus solely on your perspective, but construct your letter using insight from the other side as well.

Since the CV is already there to list your qualifications, you can emphasize heavier on your skills, personality and motivation (obviously), but don’t make it too obtrusive. Do not reach a conclusion in place of the evaluator, but rather guide them to arrive at the desired ones themselves by reading your well-constructed arguments as to why you are the right person for the job.

You should mention where and how the vacancy got your attention, be it from the internet or through a newspaper advert, for example. Following this is the main part of the letter, presenting relevant information about yourself, describing strengths, attributes, etc. This part is mostly intuitive, but it is beneficial to pay close attention to the job description and the required competences when constructing it.

As it is with the motivation letter for university, correct grammar, proper way of addressing and accurate information about yourself are must-have, that is why revising and proof-reading is advised. Showing gratitude for the chance to be considered and expressing your hope of proving yourself in a follow-up interview are also tips that can turn the tide in your favor. We hope dearly that some of these advices will help you get accepted to wherever you apply or land that job you desire.

Good luck with your letter – now go grab your opportunities!

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  - Emily Brontë


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