How to write a successful motivation letter?

As you may have noticed, HR managers in IT companies can ask not only to send a CV, pass a technical test, submit a test task, provide links to your records such as publications, portfolios or GitHub project, but also to drop a line in English answering some questions:

  • Why did you decide to participate? — if applying for a scholarship
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why should you get a chance?
  • Why are you interested in this position? — if applying for a job
  • Your expectations, etc.

So, send a motivation letter even if it is not specifically requested. 

Important note: Follow the format you are asked for!

Sometimes certain formats are indicated by HR managers.

For a job application, it may be an email motivation letter (most reviewed one), a plain text file or a PDF.

A motivation letter for an international scholarship, grant application or research programs accompanies supporting documents as a hard copy.

What is a motivation letter?

In general, everything seems to be clear from the title: your motivation letter is a self-admiration essay.

Also, it clarifies the reasons behind your decision to apply, career goals and life motivation.

The main purpose of the motivation letter is to capture the reader’s attention and form the first positive impression to encourage the HR manager to interview you so interesting bullet points can be discussed.

 We can say for sure that the motivation letter is your commercial statement.

If you run out of space on your resume, there is a chance worth taking to include all accomplishments left using a motivation letter. 

Show yourself as a professional worker or a talented beginner, do not simply restate your entire resume.

Do not be a copycat — tell your unique story! 

Make sure to write a fresh motivation letter for each company

Customize your motivation letter for each company, tailor it for each job you apply for, go beyond just replacing the titles and names.

It is important to illustrate that you understand company needs and position required qualifications and responsibilities.

So, be responsible while writing a motivation letter. Convince the target employer that you are going to perform incredibly well in this dream company.

Again, compared to a cover letter, a motivation letter is a less formal document as we analysed in a related post: Cover Letter VS Motivation Letter — effective tools to influence the employer.

The cover letter answers the question: Why do you want this job?

The motivation letter answers the question: Why you?

A small reminder, the emotional element is more valuable in the motivation letter. It will be useful to focus on your ambitions, desires, development.

IMPORTANT: The main principles of effective writing are brevity, simplicity, logical presentation and truthful information!

Do not lie about skills you do not possess or fictional experience in resume, motivation, or cover letter.

Your personal information and references along with the experience will be checked many times.

Also, keep in mind that HR managers communicate with each other in different ways!

DON’T FORGET: Keep the balance!

A motivation letter is still a business letter and it should be written not in cut-and-dry, but still follows traditional formatting for business correspondence.

In IT, the standard motivation letter is written in English.

A poorly written letter may cast doubt on your English level indicated in the resume or proven by certificate.

Is it worth sending a motivation letter if it is not required?

No! However, if you send the resume by an email, you can briefly write a greeting, a few words about yourself that will attract the reader’s attention at the beginning, and appreciate reviewing the resume at the end, etc. Logically? Won’t you send a blank letter?

The structure of the motivation letter

Like any work, the motivation letter consists of several parts connected for smooth reading: an introduction, main part and conclusion.

Reading lifeless and copied templates will turn recruiters off. 

You have to start with reasons for applying and finish with plans and expectations.

1. Introductory part: use this section to introduce yourself and express the reason why you are applying for this position.

It can be a letter in response to a job posting or for an unadvertised job when the company is not in hiring mode.

2. Main part: Start the main part with information about your current employment status.

If you apply for your first job, do not write that the main goal is to get some practical experience.

Employers want to see skilled workers, not trainees.

Instead focus on your achievements, skills, strengths and emphasize even small ones.

3. Motivational part: explain the reasons why you are interested in this position.

For example, your interests align the company values so you are the culture fit. 

List how your accomplishments and abilities will benefit the company.

Employers want to see a dedicated and passionate professional, not a hack-worker.

4. Conclusion: thank your recipient for considering this application

Motivation letter samples

As you’ll see, there is no shortage of samples on the Internet, just enter an accurate query. 

REMINDER: Samples for inspiration only!

Common phrases, constant expressions of politeness are used generally the same for writing a cover letter, motivation letter and application letter.

Below are examples in English: 

What’s a perfect motivation letter look like?

Perfection is impossible, but try your best while writing a cover letter.

The writing style will be improved with time and practice. 

Therefore, do not write a CV, motivation letter, and cover letter at once, take a break and resume work in a few days as the evaluation is better with a fresh mind. 

Additionally, before sending the finished motivation letter, print it out or look in the browser for a printed copy format. It is needed if the HR manager for convenience will print it so the text is not shifted.

The letter should be visually appealing and text easy-to-follow.

Check that there are no grammatical, stylistic errors, and obvious typos.

Take care to choose the appropriate font and font size, do not use bright letters, underlining or bold text.

The design should match the CV design style.

A motivation letter should be up to 500 words and do not exceed one A4 page.

We recommend sending a motivation letter to another person for proofreading. As it is said: “Two heads are better than one”, so an unbiased person can easily notice grammatical errors and slips and make a general impression of the recited text. 

Finally, important and not mentioned yet recommendations: 

5. Tips & Tricks to write a successful motivation letter

1. Pay special attention to the first paragraph. 

Often, HR managers do not read motivation letters to the end because of cliché lines or they simply lack time receiving 200 letters per day.

2. Declare your ambitions, but don’t just write you want to become another QA. Instead, you may share ideas and highlight how your skills will benefit the company because you want quick professional development and give proof!

3. Apply company-first approach

Emphasize your knowledge of the technologies and frameworks that the employer works with now or their possible future needs. Once you have a clear understanding of the position, you may explain how your experience will fit the company.

4. Express your long-term interest, no matter if you are applying for a job or scholarship. 

Employers do not want to throw the money down the drain as they invest in you in both cases. An internship may turn into a job offer from an IT company if the potential employee will fit the company. Everything seems to be obvious. Therefore, show your desire to grow professionally in a direction that can bring results to the investors.

5. Do not write irrelevant info, everything mentioned should relate to the desired position. 

Thank you for your attention!

The translation was made by Lilya Varivoda