How to write a stand-out motivation letter

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How to write a stand-out motivation letter

What is a motivation letter

One of the central components of a job application is your motivation letter: your chance to show off and prove to hiring managers that you’re the right person for the role in your own words. Your CV lays out your expertise and credentials, while your motivation letter allows you to tell your professional story in an exciting and convincing way. 

Follow the tips in this article to make sure you're crafting a stand-out motivation letter that will help you secure your dream job.

Address it to the right person

A common mistake hiring managers see is motivation letters that start with “to whom it may concern” or “dear hiring manager”. Thanks to company job portals, detailed job listings and tools like LinkedIn, it’s almost always possible to find out the name of the person you’re addressing. It only takes you five minutes, and proves to the hiring manager that you’re serious about getting this job - not just any job.

Motivation letter structure

It’s easy for motivation letters to drone on if you’re not following a structure. A common cover letter structure looks like this:

  1. Contact details

  2. Introduction – first paragraph

  3. Body – second paragraph

  4. Conclusion

Plan out what you want to say in advance, and keep it short, concise, relevant and interesting. Start with your contact details that include your name, email address, phone number. You can copy this section from your CV.

An introductory paragraph tells a prospective employer who you are, why you’re writing, and your availability to start. This is also your chance to go into your career goals and how they align with the company or sector you want to work in.

Your second paragraph should cover your skills and knowledge specific to the job you’re applying for. Highlight your qualifications and the fact that you’re a right fit by using some of the same words as the job description. You don’t need to repeat your resume, but you do need to explain to the company how you have the skills, abilities, knowledge and expertise to fill their need.

Round off your motivation letter with a conclusion thanking the hiring manager for taking the time to read your application, and for considering you for the position. This is also the place to provide information on how they can contact you, as well as your plans to follow up with them. You don’t need to write a long paragraph, but don’t forget the conclusion: it’s an important part of your motivation letter. 

​What to avoid when writing a motivation letter

Hiring managers spend a lot of time reading motivation letters, and the same expressions appear over and over again. Make sure your application stands out by avoiding being generic. Ensure your motivation letter sounds like you, and stick to authentic facts that add value to your application and give an insight into your personality. Stick to active, short and simple sentences to engage the reader. If someone is reading 50 letters in one day, they don’t want to have to wade through overly-long sentences to get to the point!

When to include a motivation letter in your job application

Our final tip is to make sure you should be writing a motivation letter in the first place. When working with a recruiter, if your CV doesn’t match the role, they’ll rarely read your motivation letter. However, if your CV does match the role, a recruiter may specifically ask you to write one for a particular role you applied for.

If you’re applying directly to a company, rather than to an agency, you’ll almost always have to include a motivation letter.

The job-searching process can be stressful at times, and once you spot a job you love the sound of, it can be tempting to rush in your application without taking the time to really study what the hiring managers want from you. But taking the time to craft a really stand-out motivation letter can make all the difference when it comes to securing the job you really want. It’s well worth spending few extra hours ensuring your motivation letter is personal, succinct, and shows you in the best possible light. After all, what’s a few hours compared to many years in a job you love

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