How to Write a Motivational Letter [Examples and Tips]

Learn how to write a motivational letter with easy to use tips and tricks. See examples and copy for your own use.
8/10/2020 10 min reading time Karin Lykke Nielsen @KarinLykke
How to Write a Motivational Letter [Examples and Tips]

Writing a motivational letter can be a tough nut to crack. How do you make sure you don’t appear as a Generic Jane or Joe? 

With a well written motivational letter you’ll vastly improve your chances of getting invited to an interview or being accepted into your dream college. Read on to learn how to write your own motivation letter. 

In this article we will go through the following:

  • What is a motivation letter? 
  • How to write a motivation letter
  • Motivation letter samples
  • Tips for writing your motivation letter

What is a motivation letter? 

A motivation letter - also called a motivational letter or a letter of motivation - is a letter of introduction used for applications. It is usually accompanied by a resume or a CV

However, you should not confuse it with a traditional cover letter, which is only used for regular job applications to paid jobs. With a cover letter the goal is to highlight your achievements and skills in order to be considered for a paid position.

When to use a motivation letter

When should you use a motivation letter then? A motivation letter is used in these five situations: 

  • When applying to a university or college (undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate)
  • When applying for a student programme
  • When applying for a non-profit organization
  • When applying for volunteer work 
  • When applying for an internship

A motivation letter is not usually used when applying to paid positions. That’s where you would use your cover letter. 

How to write a motivation letter

Now that you know a little more about what a motivational letter is, and when to use it, it’s time to get your hands a little more dirty. It’s time to write a motivational letter. 

Like your cover letter you should divide your motivation letter into three parts. The first part consists of salutation and introduction. Next part is your story and motivation - this is the body of your motivation letter. Lastly is the third part, your call to action, where you wrap things up. 

We’ve split up the steps to write a motivation letter in to five steps below here. 

A breakdown of how to write a motivation letter example for an internship application

Step 1: Basic information

Let’s start with the easiest part - your basic information. This consists of your details such as name, title (if applicable), and contact information. Now add the details of the recipient (the person you’re addressing the letter to) and today’s date. 

Step 2: Salutation and introduction

The salutation is, although small, an important part of your motivation letter. It’s important to make it personal so ideally you should use either the reader’s first name or last name. 

You’ll also need to write an introduction that captures your reader’s attention to prompt them to read on. One way of doing so is by including a personal detail that intrigues the reader. You can also add an impressive achievement that is relevant.  

Example

Dear Sally,

Your organization, Clown Care, has made a huge impact on my life since I from an early age learned about you and your work. Therefore it has always been a dream of mine to give back to an organization like Clown Care. 

You will want to hook the reader and make them interested in what you have to offer.

Step 3: Your story and motivation

The next step contains the body of your letter of motivation. This is where you need to sell yourself. You’ll want to expand it from your introduction to keep a natural flow. 

Divide your content into smaller sections. Each new topic you tell about will need its own section. This ensures that there is plenty of white space in your motivation letter so you don’t overwhelm your reader with one large blob of text. 

Example 

I am currently studying to become a nurse on the children's care unit. When I saw that you’re looking for volunteers I just knew that this was my chance to give something back to someone who has done so much for me and other kids in my situation. I am especially interested in the coordinator role as I think I would be able to make a real difference here.

When I was little (I think it started at around my 5th birthday) I was diagnosed with bone cancer. As a result I was in and out of hospitals for a very long period of my young life. One of the only positive memories I have from that time is the interaction between me, the other kids, and the hospital clown (I’m afraid I don’t remember her name anymore). 

Having had firsthand experience with being in a children’s hospital I learned how important it is to give the children some carefree moments with laughter and joy. Through my education towards becoming a nurse I am now even more convinced that laughter really is the best medicine. As a coordinator for the Clown Care organization I believe I would be able to help you direct your efforts in the best possible way. And I could use my knowledge from both my education and practical experience to the benefit of Clown Care.

Our applicant uses several compelling facts to make her point and to convince the reader why she would be a perfect match for the volunteer position. 

Step 4: Call to action

The last part of your motivation letter is what marketers name the “call to action”. It means you leave your reader on a positive note and that your prompt them to contact you. 

Example

In conclusion I feel I would be an asset for your organization and I hope you will consider me for the position. Please give me a call or an email so we can discuss further. I will look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Sarah Johnson

Step 5: Proofread your letter

The fifth and final step of your motivation letter is to proofread it. Making sure that your letter is flawless ensures that you appear professional and competent. 

  • Correct spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Weed out any awkward sentences
  • Edit information that is repeated from your resume so your motivation letter only includes unique and new information 

It may be necessary to go through your letter more than once in order to make sure you’ve caught all small errors and typos. If time permits it, it’s a good idea to return to your motivation letter two days after completion as this will allow you to view it more objectively. If you feel insecure about your own skills as a proofreader (and it can be difficult to review your own work, trust me) you can ask a trusted friend or family member to go through your motivation letter for you. 

Motivation letter samples

Below are some motivational letter samples for different situations. You can use these as a guide and inspiration for your own motivation letters. 

Volunteer work application

A motivation letter example for a volunteering position

Text for motivation letter you can copy

Dear Sally,

Your organization, Clown Care, has made a huge impact on my life since I from an early age learned about you and your work. Therefore it has always been a dream of mine to give back to an organization like Clown Care. 

I am currently studying to become a nurse on the children's care unit. When I saw that you’re looking for volunteers I just knew that this was my chance to give something back to someone who has done so much for me and other kids in my situation. I am especially interested in the coordinator role as I think I would be able to make a real difference here.

When I was little (I think it started at around my 5th birthday) I was diagnosed with bone cancer. As a result I was in and out of hospitals for a very long period of my young life. One of the only positive memories I have from that time is the interaction between me, the other kids, and the hospital clown (I’m afraid I don’t remember her name anymore). 

Having had firsthand experience with being in a children’s hospital I learned how important it is to give the children some carefree moments with laughter and joy. Through my education towards becoming a nurse I am now even more convinced that laughter really is the best medicine. As a coordinator for the Clown Care organization I believe I would be able to help you direct your efforts in the best possible way. And I could use my knowledge from both my education and practical experience to the benefit of Clown Care. 

In conclusion I feel I would be an asset for your organization and I hope you will consider me for the position. Please give me a call or an email so we can discuss further. I will look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Sarah Johnson

College application 

A motivation letter example for a college application

Text for motivation letter you can copy

Dear Mr. Johnson,

My name is Caroline Fernandez, and I am a high school student at Chicago City High School with a keen interest in the STEM subjects. I am writing to you to apply for the Higher Mathematics and Physics degree at Chicago College.

I hope to become a particle physics scientist, so I would like to learn more about this particular field. I feel your course would help me understand mathematics and physics in such a degree that I would be able to pursue this goal. 

I love the way mathematics puts everything in a higher order and aligns the world. I believe I have a natural flair for both mathematics and physics as their purity really speaks to me. I am confident that I’ll be able to apply this flair to new projects at your school and thus increase my skills and knowledge with you. 

I have a profound respect for Chicago College’s reputation for both academic and sporting excellence. I appreciate the fact that yours is a school where there’s room for both passion in the classroom as well as outside it. As someone who is very social and engaged in several extracurricular activities, including the school band and lacrosse team, I feel my diverse interests would make me a great fit for your school.

Being able to study at your school would help me develop my skills within the STEM subjects while having fun at the same time. I am open to all the great experiences that life at Chicago College has to offer me and I will engage in the social life as much as my studies would permit. Thank you very much for considering my request.

Please send me an email or give me a call if you have any questions about my application. I will look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Caroline Fernandez

Internship application 

A motivation letter example for an internship application

Text for motivation letter you can copy

Dear Mrs. Peterson,

In addition to my resume I hereby send you my motivational letter to be considered for the internship at Boston Applications inc.. During my college years I have had some excellent achievements such as being elected as president of the student council two years in a row. I believe my experiences here will be of great benefit to your organization.  

In my three years at Boston College, I’ve completed a great deal of coursework on cutting-edge design trends and best practices, including Principles of User Experience Design and Mobile Application Design. I mastered and applied skills such as user journey mapping, application wireframing and designing software for a variety of mobile devices and operating systems.

In addition, I spent the past two semesters as the president of the student council where one of my main goals was to implement a charity to help families in need. I managed to arrange collection and donation of clothes, furniture, and food and then redistribute it to the families who applied for it. In order to succeed with this I created and launched an application that allows people in the community to locate nearby drop-off points and schedule pick-ups.

Next to my studies and volunteer work I also worked in the student library which taught me the importance of building a convenient and memorable consumer experience that aligns with the brand. It also helped me grow my skills in team collaboration, verbal communication and project leadership.

I believe I would make an excellent addition to your team and this internship would help me grow my real-world experience in the technology industry and help me further develop and refine my application design skills.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Mohammad Abadi

Tips for writing your motivation letter

Now that you’ve read about motivational letters and seen some different takes on them, it’s time for you to give it a go. Before you start though, here are our best tips for writing a motivation letter. 

1. Keep it simple 

Some organizations will provide you with guidelines (see tip #3) and others won’t. If you don’t have any specific guidelines make sure you keep your motivation letter simple. Keep it to ½ to one page with a basic 11-12 point font like Arial or Calibri. 

Use everyday language that readers can easily understand and avoid slang or complex jargon. Writing short, active sentences is your best bet. 

2. Let your personality shine through

There is only one of you, so make sure that your unique personality shines through in your text. Write about your interests, feelings, and perspectives. This is an effective way of separating your letter from others. Use a natural voice just like you would if you were in the room talking to your reader. However, avoid using too much humor as this is easily misinterpreted. 

3. Follow guidelines provided by the organization

If the organization that you’re sending a motivational letter to has provided you with any guidelines make sure you follow them. This could involve formatting, length, and content guidelines. 

4. Focus on your strengths 

Write about how you can add value to the organization you’re applying for by focusing on your personal strengths. Writing about your strengths instead of your challenges and limitations will show you as a strong candidate.

Take aways

Alright, let’s sum up what we’ve covered in this article: 

  • Writing a motivational letter can be difficult, but if you follow our guide you get a head start
  • A motivation letter is not the same as a cover letter - you only use it in certain situations and not for paid positions
  • A motivation letter should include the same basic elements as a formal business letter
  • Divide your motivation letter into different sections - avoid writing one big blob of text. Remember the white space
  • Tell your story and motivation for seeking the position. Keep it simple yet personal

Although a motivation letter is not identical to a cover letter they both follow the same standards regarding layout and formatting. Want to create your own motivation letter? 


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