Your Guide To Writing a Motivation Letter (With Tips and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 September 2022 | Published 6 June 2021

Updated 5 September 2022

Published 6 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When applying for a job, university or educational program, you must prepare and submit several documents. Notable among them is a good motivation letter. A well-written motivation letter can convince the admission manager to approve your application or invite you for an interview. In this article, we explain how to write a credible motivation letter for study or employment, along with examples and tips to help you frame your own.

What Is A Motivation Letter?

A motivation letter, also called a 'statement of purpose', is a document describing your main purpose for applying for a university course, a scholarship or a volunteer job. This letter accompanies your application and additional documents, such as the transcript of your grades or a CV.

A point to be noted is that the motivation letter is different from a cover letter. A cover letter usually accompanies a CV when applying for a job application and helps grab the employer's attention by highlighting why you are the right fit for the job. A motivation letter, on the other hand, is usually used for enrollment at a university, educational program or to be accepted as a volunteer at a non-profit organisation.

Related: How To write a cover letter


How to Write A Motivation Letter

Writing a good motivation letter requires a proper plan and structure. Here are five basic steps to follow when drafting your letter of motivation:

1. Write an outline

Before writing a motivation letter, it is important to think of your main reason for applying for a university or volunteer internship course. It is also advisable to research as much as possible about the university and the program they offer.

Outline the main ideas you want to include in your motivation letter and then build around them. The outline should cover the following topics:

  • Why do you want to study the course or volunteer for the particular program?

  • What are your skills or qualities that will benefit the school or non-profit organisation?

  • Why are you interested in this particular university or non-profit organisation?

2. Write an introduction

Write a brief introduction about yourself. Address your recipient by name to give a personal touch to your motivation letter. If you do not know the name, you can leave it at "Dear Sir/Madam". Your introduction should instantly capture the recipient's attention and encourage them to read on. It should include relevant details about your achievements, how you found this vacancy and why it interests you.

3. Expand your outline

Expand the points listed in the outline to complete the body of your motivation letter. Here you can describe how you are the perfect candidate by highlighting your previous work experiences or professional skills. Ensure to use persuasive and compelling facts to convince your interest and value to the recipient.

4. Write a conclusion

It is important to write a conclusion to your motivation letter that summarises your goals and leaves a positive final impression on the reader. You should also thank them for considering your application and encourage them to contact you if they have any questions.

5. Proofread

Proofread your motivation letter to make it concise, clear and professional. Ensure to correct any spelling and grammatical errors and awkward phrasing. Omit information already listed in your application form or CV to ensure your motivation letter contains only necessary information.

You may need to proofread your letter multiple times to ensure that it truly stands out. You can ask a trusted colleague or experienced person to proofread and ensure your motivation letter is cohesive and error-free.

Related: Write an internship cover letter

Tips or Writing A Motivation Letter

Here are some key tips to keep in mind when writing a motivation letter that is persuasive and instantly grabs the attention of the hiring manager or admissions personnel:

  • Follow prescribed guidelines: Follow the format, length and content guidelines prescribed by your prospective university or non-profit organisation. In the absence of guidelines, write approximately half to one page of text with a basic 12-point font, such as Times New Roman or Arial.

  • Write with personality: Your letter should reflect your unique interests, feelings and perspectives. Include interesting details that will help your motivation letter to stand out from others. Humour can be misinterpreted, so opt for a more serious tone.

  • Use simple language: Simple and straightforward language that readers can easily understand is best for motivation letters. Avoid using unnecessarily complex terms, slang or phrases that can be misinterpreted.

  • Focus on your strengths: Write about your strengths rather than your challenges or limitations. This highlights your value and keeps the tone of your letter positive.

Motivation Letter Examples

Here are some examples of motivation letters used for university and volunteer job applications:

College application motivation letter sample

Dear Mr. Thomas,

My name is Priya Sharma, and I am a fresh graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Dhirubai College of Engineering in Mumbai. I am writing this letter to apply for the Masters in Mechanics program offered at Northwestern University.

I hope to become a mechanical engineer, so I would like to learn more about design, manufacturing and installing systems and components. Your course would help me understand the systems design process and how engineering principles, tools and practices can help build and test better mechanical systems.

I have applied classroom learning to design innovative and successful projects, including a three-month internship at XYZ technologies in Pune with hands-on experience in automotive systems. I am confident that I would be able to use this practical knowledge in new projects at Northwestern as well.

I respect Northwestern University's reputation for academic and sporting excellence. I appreciate that yours is an institution that encourages students to achieve their potential both inside and outside the classroom. As a social person who has participated in several extracurricular activities, including the college band and cricket team, I feel my diverse interests would make me an excellent fit for your university.

I am open to all the experiences life at Northwestern University would bring me and hope to achieve them through the MS in Mechanics degree. Thank you so much for considering my request. Please feel free to mail me at priya_sharma@email.com if you have any questions about my application.

Yours faithfully,

Priya Sharma

Scholarship application motivation letter sample

To Mr. Raman,

My name is Asif Ali, and I am writing to express my interest in a scholarship for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Los Angeles University. I have a deep passion for helping people, and I hope my financial limitations would not hold me back in harnessing this passion in my career.

I grew up in a low-income family with a single mother who worked three jobs to provide for my brothers and me. My mother instilled in me the value of working hard and the importance of taking care of others who cannot care for themselves. Her encouragement and my determination helped me earn some of the best grades in my class.

As my mother worked long hours, I spent a lot of time taking care of my younger brother, who is suffering from cerebral palsy. I feel the time I spent caring for him sparked my interest in nursing. It taught me to be patient and compassionate at all times.

I feel my natural work ethic and drive to succeed would make me an asset to your University. I have read great things about the excellent nursing program offered at your University. It would give me the perfect environment to gain the degree I need to secure my dream job and give back to the community.

Thank you for reviewing my application, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Please do contact me at asif.ali@email.com if you have any questions about my application.

Kind regards,

Asif Ali

Volunteer employment motivation letter sample

Dear Ms. Ross,

My name is Varsha Iyer, and I am a sociology student at Delhi University. I am writing this in response to the call for volunteers posted on the Humanitarian Aid Volunteer Ventures website. This opportunity attracted me because I recognise the importance of overcoming poverty and suffering both here in India and abroad.

I have been working as a youth volunteer in slums and poor areas in Delhi since I was a teenager. I have always connected with common people and have sought to bring them relief and support. I offered my services as a volunteer during the devastating Kerala floods last year and received accolades from the Kerala government for my outstanding services.

Through my sociology studies, I have learned even more about crisis intervention and social support, along with project management and implementation. I believe these skills, along with the experiences I have acquired in my past, would be invaluable to you at Humanitarian Aid Volunteer Ventures.

I am especially interested in working at Humanitarian Aid as it has a diverse range of causes to work on. I also appreciate your organisation's policy and commitment to eradicating hunger and working to save the lives of malnourished children. These policies align with my belief that all human beings deserve the chance to live a life without hunger, have access to clean water, safe sanitation and good hygiene.

In conclusion, I feel I would be a valuable asset to Humanitarian Aid and hope you will accept my application for volunteer work. Please contact me at varshaiyer@email.com if you have any questions about my application.

Yours faithfully,

Varsha Iyer


Related:

  • Types of Motivation for Career Advancement (With Examples)

  • Motivation Theories (Definition, Types And Examples)

  • What Are Career Opportunities and How to Choose the Right One

  • How To Acquire New Skills (With Examples of Skills To Learn)

  • Why Employee Motivation Is Important: A Complete Guide

  • Types of Workplace Training: Definitions and Examples


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