How to write a good motivational letter

How to write a good motivational letter

With the high competition graduate job-seekers face in South Africa it is important to have a well written CV and motivational cover letter that clearly states why you are the best person for the role. You want to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter or employer to see that your skills and any relevant work experience will match the job requirements. A rushed cover letter can be a reason for not being considered for a job. 

 

What is a motivational cover letter?

A cover letter or motivational letter is a letter that explains why you think you are best suited for the position you are applying to. This is your chance to explain a bit more about who you are and demonstrate why you should be considered for the job. 

When writing a cover letter, check the job description and see where the job description overlaps with your skills and any previous work experience you have gained. Because the job description changes for every position, this means that your cover letter should change with every job application. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cover letter. You can highlight the same strengths and experiences in all your letters, but it needs to be tailored to every job for the best results.

 

How to write a good cover letter

Salutation

Avoid using a gender- or time-specific greeting. “Good morning” or “Dear Sirs” should be replaced with “Good day” or “To whom it may concern”.

Introductory first paragraph

This should outline the position for which you are applying:

I would like to apply for the role of Accounting Officer as advertised on your website.

That’s the easy part. You now need an attention grabber to keep the recruiter reading. He/She has probably been flooded with applications and will quickly dismiss CV’s with complicated wording in which the skills are not easily and instantly identifiable.

Keep them reading

Job requirements are the key to success here.

Carefully read through the job description and identify the main job requirements. You should then be able to offer an immediate solution to the recruitment ‘problem’ by giving a fact-based response which clearly demonstrates your skills match to the job requirements. Write your cover letter as if responding or ‘answering’ these requirements.

Example: My Curriculum Vitae has been attached for your perusal and goes into greater detail, but I would like to focus your attention on my skills and qualifications. I believe that I am suited to this position as:

  • I have completed my B Com – Marketing & Communications Management (Hons) at the University of South Africa in 2007

  • I have 2 years work experience in the marketing department of a well-known retail group

  • I have my own transport

  • I held several leadership roles in my community and while on campus.  

Professional Photo for CV or Cover Letter

To add your photo… or not? A word about adding a photo to your cover letter… should you or should you not? If required, or if you decide to do so, ensure that the photo is a professional formal head and shoulders shot only, in formal work attire. This is the same principle for social media sites like LinkedIn.  

Writing, formatting and style

Paragraphs should be short and punchy. Stick to facts, using demonstrable examples of specific key skills, qualifications or competency which are in line with what they are looking for. Give tangible proof using examples of your key skill. Example: While studying my fine arts degree I worked every week-night to pay my tuition fees. I worked as a waitress which taught me invaluable people skills and the value of delivering a high-quality service. I also learned to manage my time exceptionally well juggling both studies and work. For this reason I do believe I have both the personal qualities and degree you require to fill this job.  

Information should be relevant and succinct. Remember, a covering letter is there to introduce yourself and give a peek at your suitability as a candidate, so they are readily inclined to examine your CV in more detail.

Don’t use graphics, pictures or different colours – keep it formal and focused on content.  If you are – for example, a graphic designer and are aiming to impress, this should be confined to a link in your portfolio, and not included in your covering letter as it can detract from your skills on offer. 

Check and re-check spelling and grammar. If possible, ask a trusted third party to ensure that there are no errors.

Ending your letter

End the letter on a note of confidence as to your suitability for the position:

I am confident that my skills match those required and would love to be afforded the opportunity to meet with you in person.

I trust that this application will meet with your favourable response.

 

Example of a good motivational letter:

Good day

My Curriculum Vitae has been attached for your perusal and goes into greater detail, but I would like to focus your attention on my skills and qualifications. I believe that I am suited to this position as:

  • I have completed my B Com – Marketing & Communications Management (Hons) at the University of South Africa in 2007

  • I have 2 years work experience working in the marketing department of a well-known retail group 

  • I am proficient in google analytics, photoshop and enjoy using new technology like Missingletter, Asana and Canva.

  • I have my own transport

  • I held several leadership roles in my community and while on campus.  

  • I am confident that my skills match those required and would love to be afforded the opportunity to meet with you in person.

I trust that this application will meet with your favourable response.

Yours truly,

Simon Soap

When you apply for a new job be sure that your CV and cover letter is of the highest quality. Your cover letter is a useful tool that can help you stand out. If you give the best you can, you will have success in the end, just keep going.

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