How to write a perfect motivation letter?
PS: I got into the University of Cambridge’s research programme!
We often have to write cover letters, motivation letters, personal statements for college applications, part-time jobs/placements, internships or graduate school. The secret is, there is no such thing as a perfect motivation letter. It has to be tailored according to the job description and would vary from person to person holding different experiences. To portray your self in the best manner, follow the checklist below and stay amazed to glance at all your achievements in a nutshell. Read ahead to find out how to tailor your letter and bag that dream job…..
To make a perfect recipe you need just the right ingredients in the right amount. Similarly, to sell yourself you need to display your achievements in the right way such that you are not boasting but are also not under-selling!
STEP 1: Write all your achievements in a list.
This will give you clarity regarding what exactly is needed to be written in your letter.
STEP 2: Highlight keywords from the Job Description.
This is going to help you stand out from the crowd. The recruiter will recognise that you have all the skills they look for in the “perfect candidate”. But how do you use this in the right way? Hmm…
STEP 3: Read your list of achievements again and find out which experiences display those skills.
This would be a moment of self-reflection and would help you recognise your strengths and weaknesses along with helping you craft your letter in the best possible manner.
STEP 4: Write it as if you are telling a story.
- Why do you want to apply?
- What makes you the perfect candidate?
- What skills can you add to the job?
- Why that job?
STEP 5: Write in short paragraphs.
This enables the reader to read easily and not lose track of your achievements and passion for your interest in a position.
STEP 6: Write that first draft.
It seems to be the most difficult thing to do. WHERE DO YOU BEGIN???
The best thing to do is to answer the 4 questions in STEP 4 in the easiest way possible. No fancy words or the best sentence construction. Just write whatever comes in your head.
STEP 7: Edit the first draft.
Read your answers to those questions and structure it well. Use the checklist below:
- Are your skills backed up with experiences? If not, how can you do it? e.g. — If you are a job position requires team player skills: you could give an example such as may be playing a sport, or working on a group project in university/school, or your interaction in a tutorial group/seminar.
- Are your achievements written in chronological order? This shows that you are highly organised and confident.
- Have you backed up your passion with examples? It is very easy to say that you are passionate about working in an XYZ position/firm. But how are you passionate about it? For example — you love cancer biology, but how would I know if you love it? You could say, you read books, listen to podcasts or read scientific journals outside of your coursework to display your interests.
STEP 8: Edit your second draft.
Proofread at least three times with gaps of few days and take opinion from your career counsellor, employability officer or a professional.
Lastly, be confident with who you are! You might not get the first job you apply for or even the second, but persevere and change your letter according to different job descriptions.
YOU HAVE GOT THIS!