How To Write a Compelling Motivational Letter?
September 16th 2022
Why Your Motivational Letter Is Essential in Your Job Application Process
Once you are prepared for applying for a particular position and build know-how about the employer, you can get down to writing your motivational letter. Currently, LinkedIn and other platforms for job seekers try to rule out the necessity to write a letter. However, motivational letters are a key part of the job application process. Even if you don’t need a letter, it is a wonderful preparation for the job interview.
As a matter of fact, most professionals spend most of their time polishing their resumes… only to get eliminated based on their motivational letters. Therefore, it is worth paying special attention to your letter and making sure that it gives the recruiter a compelling picture of you as the top candidate for the position.
The Three Parts Of a Compelling Motivational Letter
The header of your motivational letter should be a classic letter header. This header should contain the date and city in the upper right corner, and the greeting directed personally to the recruiter or the general greeting “To whom it might concern” in case you don’t know the recruiter’s name.
The body of your motivational letter should consist of three acts:
Part 1: Friendly + warm + attention grabber.
Tone: “I chose to apply to this team for a reason!”
In the first part of your letter, you should grab the attention of the recruiter. Yes, you should “start with why” (Sinek, 2011) but the meaning of starting with why is different from what you might expect.
Namely, many job hunters start their letters by talking about their passion for what they do in their professional lives. They aim to convince their potential future employer that they would love this job.
The issue is that the recruiter is interested in your “why” — but only in the context of the job. There are two types of passion: passion for the discipline itself, and passion for the particular job and particular team. The recruiters want to hear why you would like to contribute to their team. In other words, they want to hear about themselves rather than about you and your love for what you do in life.
Namely, the initial paragraph of your letter should express some excitement about the fact that there is an opening in this particular team. You should give some arguments for why you are applying for THIS particular position in this particular team. Of course, sometimes, it is hard to give logical arguments — especially when you have learned about the position from the Internet and when you have never heard about the company before.
Well, in that case, google for information! You can browse through their website, their blog, their LinkedIn profile, and Glassdoor, as well as blogs or Medium articles. You need to learn enough about the company to be able to give at least one rational argument for why you chose to apply to them.
The best way to start and customize the letter is to praise the employer. Find at least one argument for why this is a compelling offer. It might be the product or service offered by the company, their organizational culture, their level of innovation, their growth in the market, some awards that they received, their fresh approach to research and development, good opinion among their employees or customers … Just anything related to what they do or how they do it. You have a broad choice here!
But watch out: good working benefits do not make for the best argument. Employers are not looking for gold diggers but rather, for employees who have a genuine interest in what the company does and want to join them on their journey.
Part 2: Factual.
Tone: “Why me? Let me show you that I am the right person,”
The second part of the motivational letter should be a direct response to the requirements listed in the job offer. You need to respond to the points raised in the offer one by one, preferably in the same order that they were mentioned in the job offer. Mind that after writing a few letters, you will be able to create this section for the next letters by rewriting your previous text.
Of course, you should give arguments for why you believe you represent the qualities mentioned in the job offer. Prove yourself by mentioning your previous work: the projects you have accomplished, conflicts and complex situations that you’ve solved, your successful ideas, and initiatives.
Part 3: Friendly + emotional.
Tone: “I am your guy/gal! Just give me a chance and you won’t regret your decision.”
In the last part of your letter, you should customize your words again and adjust to the employer. You need to leave the recruiter with the feeling that you have a genuine desire to work for this particular team. Therefore, it is good to mention one more concrete argument for why this team is your top choice and why they will highly benefit from your work.
What to say at the end of the letter? Many professionals make clumsy attempts to greet the recruiter at the end of the letter in a neutral way. Well, there is one psychological trick you might use to increase your chances to get invited to an interview.
It is as simple as it gets. The magic phrase is:
“I hope I can be given a chance to present myself in person and talk about the ways in which I can contribute to your team.”
This sentence plays two roles at a time. Firstly, it lets the recruiter imagine you walking through the door. Secondly, it shows the recruiter that you have the team on your mind. As such, it prompts the recruiter to give you a chance to present yourself in person indeed!
Furthermore, don’t forget to sign under the letter. Next to your printed name, it is good to also put your written signature. It is classy and looks much more personal than the printout!
Make Your Letter Easy To Read!
Given today’s standards, your letter will be parsed first by a machine, and then, when it passes the first filtering procedure, by a human. Therefore, your letter should be easy to read — both for a human AND for a machine. No need to add, that humans and machines think quite differently!
Make Your Letter Easy For a Machine To Read
Firstly, today, motivational letters are often prescreened by specialistic software comparing the text of the job offer with the text of the motivational letter. The philosophy is that bots and Software as a Service (or, SaaS) are cheaper than human labor. Therefore, it is an economic decision to first filter out the random, off-topic, or low-quality motivational letters before a human employee ever gets the chance to read them.
But, you need to know that today, Artificial Intelligence is not all that intelligent just yet! To make it easier for the software to understand the topic of your letter, you should use vocabulary that has multiple overlaps points or synonyms of the vocabulary used in the job offer. It is that simple! Therefore, before you send out your letter, it’s good to underscore a few essential keywords in the job offer, and make sure that they also appear in your letter!
Make Your Letter Easy For a Human To Read
Secondly, you should make it easy for a human to parse your text. Do you know that recruiters are some of the most overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated professionals? Surprising but true!
Especially since the pandemic broke out and the Great Resignation loomed on the horizon, the pressure put on recruiters skyrocketed. Human factor decides about the ultimate market success or failure, and recruiters play a key part in picking the right people for the positions in the company. No wonder they are stressed!
But this also means an opportunity for you. If you can make your letter easy for the recruiter to read, you stand out and heavily increase your chances of getting hired! The bottom line is: make your letter user-friendly for the recruiter and you will make two steps forward on your way to landing the job.
1. Start From a Compliment.
Tell the recruiter why you are excited to apply for this position. Put a smile on their face and make them think warmly of you before they even start reading,
2. Shrink the Main Text to One Page.
This is an industry-standard and violating this standard will show the recruiter that you know nothing about the (unwritten) rules. Also, don’t cheat, and don’t shrink the font size under 10 points!!
3. Chop Massive Blocks of Text into 2-3 Sentence-long Paragraphs.
Your letter should read well — like it was a blog post,
4. Don’t Write Sentences Longer than 20-25 Words Each.
This is a letter, not an encyclopedia,
5. Don’t Write in Code (or, Jargon).
You don’t know who will read your letter and what their background is. As a matter of fact, most recruiters don’t have a technical background that would allow them to interpret some of your achievements. For instance, if you say,
“I organized a hackathon,”
it might not tell the recruiter too much about your logistic skills.
In this case, it would work better to say,
“I organized a hackathon: a 3-day event hosting 120 participants where 12 teams competed in a race to design a solution for the problem of air pollution in our city. I came up with the concept of the event, and I was responsible for registering participants and building the infrastructure on the site, including the equipment and setup for broadcasting the event online.”
Then it’s all clear.
6. Put Hyperlinks in the Text.
If you want to give the recruiter a chance to read more, why don’t you put hyperlinks in the text? The recruiter will make use of them only when they are interested enough. In this way, you open doors for the recruiter to learn more but without forcing them with a shovel to read your whole life career story.
7. Keep the Right Order of Information.
Answer the points raised in the job offer in the order they were introduced in the text.
Furthermore, it is much more convenient for the recruiter to parse your letter if the sequence of information provided in the letter is the same as the sequence of requirements listed in the job offer.
Recruiters typically read your letter with a checklist in their hand — and they need to rush as they have dozens or even hundreds of letters to go through. You will make their life much easier when they don’t need to go back and forth throughout the text looking for information.
When you answer the list of requirements point by point, you not only show that you wrote the letter specifically for the position, but you also put a smile on the recruiter’s face!
8. Inject Some Real Human Emotion into the Letter.
In the opening and closing paragraphs, show some genuine interest and excitement about the job offer and the team. No one wants to work with a person with no human reactions and desires after all. So, don’t be afraid of showing human emotions — as long as you don’t overact, and introduce them in a friendly, professional way.
9. Use Grammarly or Other Apps to Polish Your Letter Before Sending It.
Yes, you might not be a native speaker, but the unwillingness to use publicly available tools to improve is a sign of laziness and a lack of respect for the reader.
10. Give Your Letter to Your Grandma to Read.
Ask her what she could say about the person who wrote this letter. She should respond something along the lines of “smart,” “talented,” “professional,” “determined,” “mission-driven,” “young and energetic,” “friendly,” and “eager to learn.” If she doesn’t, rewrite the letter.
Conclusion: How To Compose Your Motivational Letter In a Compelling Way?
At the end of the day, the difference between a compelling and a poor motivational letter can be tiny. It is all about taking the employer’s perspective and showing them your determination.
The worst mistake job hunters make is playing “hard to get:” suggesting that they have options hoping that this will make the employer more determined to fight for them. It won’t. Employers want to feel appreciated and wanted, just the same as individuals. If you remember that, you will certainly wrap up a compelling motivational letter.
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