BlogCover LettersMotivation Letter: Complete Writing Guide [with Examples & Tips]

Motivation Letter: Complete Writing Guide [with Examples & Tips]

motivation letter

In a world increasingly bogged down by numbers, statistics, KPIs, quantifiable results, and other metrics, true drive and motivation are becoming harder to spot. Yet, everyone knows that the rate of favorable outcomes skyrockets when there’s genuine passion involved. It’s this passion that you want to showcase by writing a motivation letter.

But how exactly do you write one, and for what purpose? What is the difference between this document, a resume, and writing a cover letter? If you already have the last two, do you really need to write yet another one? Keep reading to find out the answers to all of these questions and more!

Key Takeaways

  • A motivation letter is a one-page document candidates write and submit to highlight their passion for the opportunity.

  • You can write a motivation letter for a university educational program, internship, non-profit organization, or volunteering movement.

  • The best way to format a motivation letter is to use a business letter format.

  • Every motivation letter needs to have a catchy opening, an information-filled body, and a conclusion that features a call to action.

  • A letter can have three longer paragraphs and feature a storytelling approach or five to seven shorter paragraphs that are more factual.

What Is a Motivation Letter?

A motivation letter is a one-page document written by those who want to express strong interest in certain roles and positions. In some ways, a letter of motivation is similar to a cover letter example since its purpose is to convey an individual’s passion and enthusiasm for a specific function or opportunity.

The letter gives individuals a chance to express themselves in a meaningful manner that the factual nature of a resume doesn’t permit. It’s meant to focus more on drive and goals than unique skills and work experience. As such, a motivation letter is a more personal document than a resume or a CV, and it’s meant to emphasize your ambition.

When to Use a Motivation Letter?

A motivation letter is used for academic and non-profit purposes. More precisely, there are four scenarios in which you should write and submit this letter, and they are:

When to Use a Motivation Letter

  1. When looking to get into an educational program, like graduate or postgraduate studies

  2. When applying for an internship

  3. When you want to join a non-profit organization

  4. When you want to become a member of a volunteering organization

The objective of a motivation letter is the main thing that differentiates it from a cover letter. You should write a cover letter when applying for a role in the corporate sector. That makes it job-focused and more about emphasizing specific skills such as team player skills and work-related experiences.

On the flip side, a motivational letter is about broad, long-term goals and aspirations that should align with the position that the candidate is applying for.

The Best Way to Format a Motivation Letter

how long a cover letter should be

You want to format your motivation letter so that it looks clean and professional while being easy to read. If you’re unsure how to achieve that, you can start with a basic business letter format and go from there. Here are some tips and tricks to help you:

Motivation Letter Format Guidelines

  • Choose an appropriate font, like Calibri or Helvetica. Avoid cursive and overly stylized typefaces that are difficult to read.

  • The font size should be between 10 and 12 pt.

  • Adjust margins to at least 1 inch on all sides.

  • Use 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing and have an additional line of space between paragraphs.

  • Avoid overdesigning your motivation letter. Unless you’re a graphic designer who knows what to do, your safest option is to go with simple black text on a white background.

  • Name the file appropriately before submitting a soft copy of your motivation letter. A good format to follow is “Firstname-Lastname-Motivation-Letter.”

This way, you’ll have a stunning layout that makes your motivation letter pleasing to the eye and easy to read. Just remember to properly proofread it before submitting, as even a single typo can lower your chances of getting accepted.

How to Write a Motivation Letter

A motivation letter consists of three segments. The opening, body, and conclusion all serve distinct purposes and are written in specific ways. Let’s examine each of these parts and how to write them properly.

#1. Opening

The opening of your motivation letter is where you want impactful writing to grab the readers’ attention. You can think of it as an elevator pitch, where you only get a couple of sentences to impress the recipient and convince them to take a closer look at the rest of the document.

One of the ways to achieve that is to address the recipient by their name. Make an effort to find out who the recruiter or hiring manager is at the organization that you’re applying to, and include their name. That builds rapport and shows a willingness to go the extra mile. If you can’t find the name, use their title instead of a generic “To Whom It May Concern.”

Furthermore, you should mention what you are applying for. You don’t want to leave the reader guessing why you sent the letter in the first place. At the same time, you should include the reasons for applying, explaining why you’re writing the letter.

Of course, the top of your motivation letter should also feature your and the recipient’s contact information. This is a straightforward part where you should list the following:

Opening Mandatory Information

  • Your name

  • Address

  • Phone number

  • Email

You can also include the date of writing before listing the recipient’s name, title, organization, and address.

#2. Body

The body of your motivation letter is also its centerpiece. This is the place to go all-in on your personal story, drive, competencies, accomplishments, career goals, and everything else that would persuade the reader to invite you for an interview.

There are two ways to write this part:

Body Tips

  1. One lengthy paragraph that uses a storytelling approach to explain your drive and motivation

  2. Three to five concise paragraphs, where each one focuses on a different point in a more factual manner

Which option you should go with depends on your circumstances and writing preferences. In both cases, you should be as precise and descriptive as possible. On the one hand, you don’t want to downplay your achievements. On the other hand, you don’t want to lie and overestimate your competencies.

To help get your point across, you should use specific examples of what you did and achieved in the past. You can strengthen those examples by using numbers to quantify them and action verbs to make them stand out.

#3. Conclusion

The conclusion of your motivation letter is meant to wrap it up and neatly capitalize on your writing. Here are three things you should include to make that happen:

Conclusion Tips

  1. Explain why you would fit well in the organization. Show how your goals and competencies align with theirs to emphasize that your collaboration will be beneficial to everyone involved.

  2. Mention what you plan on learning from the experience and how you expect to grow while working with them.

  3. Include an engaging call to action to increase your chances of getting a response and show that you’re committed to landing a role.

After all that, you should briefly finish the letter with a professional sign-off (e.g., “Sincerely” or “Best regards”) and your name.

Motivation Letter Example

Here’s a motivation letter example to help you see everything that you’ve learned so far in practice:


3 Questions to Answer in Your Motivation Letter

Let’s examine some of the key questions that you should answer when writing your motivation letter. That will help you convey valuable information in your summary of qualifications and convince them of your drive and capabilities.

#1. Why are you interested in this opportunity?

By answering why you’re interested in the opportunity, you’re giving the reader a direct reason behind your enthusiasm. A complete answer should also feature specific reasons as to why you’re interested in the exact role within their organization in particular. That way, you’re showing a deep understanding of their work and high levels of commitment.

Let’s see that in an example:

Answer Example

I am particularly interested in the position at [Organization’s Name] because of your innovative and customer-centric approach. Your practices align with my values, and I’m excited to join your team and help you reach your goals.

#2. What makes you a unique and valuable candidate?

A good answer to this question can set you apart from the other candidates. It gives you a chance to highlight your unique perspective. Moreover, you should emphasize those hard and soft skills and experiences that the organization you’re looking to join wants in its members.

Here’s a good example:

Answer Example

My experience in social media and knowledge of data analytics make me adept at running ad campaigns and increasing user engagement. Before applying for an internship position at [Company’s Name], I successfully ran 5 different theme pages on Instagram, increasing their user engagement by up to 31% after just 3 months. This dual expertise can help me successfully fill the position of social media data analyst at your company.

#3. Why is this the right time for you to pursue this opportunity?

An answer to this question gives the reader insight into your current career status and future aspirations. It connects your present to your future and creates a notable trajectory that shows you have a goal to work toward. That is a sign of maturity and indicates that you’re skilled and ready to take on the challenge that you’re applying for.

Here’s a sample from a motivation letter for a job application:

Answer Example

My recent improvements in the field of computer science led to my increased interest in artificial intelligence. The internship position at [Company’s Name] seems like the perfect fit for my current level of knowledge. I am confident that I can contribute to your operations while improving my skills and becoming an integral part of your progress-focused team.

5 Tips for Writing an Outstanding Motivational Letter

Here are five expert tips that can help you craft an impeccable motivational letter:

Motivation Letter Tips

  1. Tailor your motivational letter to the opportunity. Just like resume templates and cover letters, letters of motivation are also purpose-built documents. A motivation letter for a scholarship is going to be vastly different from a motivation letter for an internship. Take the objective into consideration and make sure that your document aligns with it.

  2. Emphasize your personality and unique perspective. While there is a purpose to a motivation letter and it needs to feature relevant details, it is still a less factual document than a resume. Accentuate your individual experiences and insights, as that can set you apart from other candidates with similar qualifications.

  3. Create a cohesive timeline that connects your past and your future. Sentences like “My passion for X started when Y, because of which I want to become Z” perfectly encapsulate your history, rationale, and plans. They paint a complete and authentic picture of you, increasing your chances of convincing the reader.

  4. Rigorously proofread and edit your motivation letter before submitting it. This isn’t just about finding and correcting typing errors but about finding ways to improve your writing, cut obsolete information, and expand on important details. Additionally, you can adjust the formatting of the document once it’s finished to make it look better.

Final Thoughts

A motivational letter remains one of the best instruments for helping people join non-profit organizations, obtain scholarships, get into educational programs, and more. When writing it, remember to use more than a fact-based approach.

While there are many individuals with similar skills and knowledge applying for certain positions, they each have different backgrounds and aspirations. By letting yours shine through, you’ll stand out among the competition and grab the attention of all the readers and hiring managers. The interviews and positions are right around the corner!

Isabelle Dupont
Isabelle Dupont
Content Writer & Editor
Isabelle Dupont is from Portland, but she now lives and works in sunny San Diego. She is a content writer and editor for She loves casual Fridays and carefree days spent on the beach and has been writing for several years now. Whether it’s creating content or fixing it up, she’s always on point and makes sure no stone is left unturned. In her free time, Isa loves to immerse herself in fantasy novels, go on long hikes, and spend time with her friends and family.

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