A crucial aspect of applying to a job is having the right motivation letter. It provides a perfect opportunity to convey details and information that you couldn’t include on your cv, and is often the only way you have to make a great first impression on a potential employer.
Typically, a motivation letter should not span for more than one page. It is not a general overview of your professional background; that is what your cv is for. That means you have to know how to be concise, and how to share only the necessary information. In other words, your motivation letter has to contain relative information for each specific position you apply to.
Which brings us to an important question- how are you supposed to figure out what information is relevant?
It can be hugely beneficial to carry out research on the organisation you are hoping to be employed by, before you send in your application. In order to understand what a particular organisation might like to know about you, you have to know where its interests lie. That is a first step in determining which aspects of your work experiences they might find the most interesting.
A lot of the information you need will usually be stored on the internet. Check if the company has an ‘about’ section on its website. See if you can find out more about the professional backgrounds of the organisation’s employees, and how they compare to your own. A twitter account could provide you with insight into some of their more specific projects and activities. You might be able to sign up for a company newsletter. Look into possible events hosted by the organisation that you could attend.
Once you have uncovered a good amount of information, try to relate it to aspects of your past work experiences, or your educational background that relate to the company. If you have ever worked at an organisation that shared similar values, for example, that is something you could discuss. You can use the letter to highlight the aspects of your cv that most strongly coincides with the work they do.
Secondly, unless you’re sending out an open application, you will have a job listing to refer to when writing your letter. This will likely include a bullet point list of required skills.
When writing your motivation letter, see if you can refer to every one of those points. To do so, mention the specific projects where you developed those skills.
This list of skills can help you determine which activities in your previous jobs are relevant to discuss. Projects which required other skills probably won’t need to be referred to in your motivation letter.
Finally, take a moment after you’ve finished writing to filter out any redundancies. Your motivation letter should be easy to follow, so don’t include anything that distracts from your most important points.
Anything that doesn’t directly relate to the job in questions has to go. Do also try to cut out any statements that are too vague. Don’t include generic statements, such as that you’re looking for an interesting/challenging job. The goal of your motivation letter is, after all, to convey why you want the job you’re applying for in particular.
Keeping these steps in mind when you write your motivation letter should help you stick to sharing only the relevant information. Hopefully.
By: Barbara Haenen