What is a motivation letter and why do you need one?

26/05/2022 | Santander Universidades

Writing a compelling motivation letter can help you to get the job you want. Moreover, at some educational institutions, motivation letters are a must —a decisive part of the final selection process of candidates who will be awarded a scholarship, or given a place on a Master's degree, for example.

The truth is that there are no right or wrong 'motives'. The reasons for applying for a post-graduate course, a scholarship or a new job can vary. However, they can also be presented in a more compelling way (or not!). 

That's why structuring your motivation letter appropriately, writing it concisely and using creativity when it comes to expressing your ideas are all fundamental points taking you one step closer to achieving your professional goals with this document. For this reason, we're here to explain in greater detail exactly what a motivation letter is, when you need one, and why it's so important.

What is a motivation letter? 

A written document whose purpose is to express your interest in a job, scholarship, internship or a place on a Master's degree. In these letters, you can outline your abilities, education and training, experience and, above all, your personality traits and personal ambitions. 

It offers you the chance to demonstrate your uniqueness and what drives you, so writing your letter shouldn't be an added stress but rather an opportunity to communicate who you are and what you want.

Whether it's mandatory or not —depending on what you're applying for— it will generally be considered a plus-point because it gives a way to add and expand on areas your CV doesn't cover.


Types of motivation letter 

As mentioned, there are various reasons for writing a motivation letter. The main ones are:

  • Applying for a place on a training course

  • Securing a scholarship

  • Getting a job when you lack experience

  • Applying for an internship

In the case of an academic course or scholarship, which tend to have a limited number of spaces, a motivation letter is a powerful tool with which to convince the recipient that you are the ideal candidate for one of the spots on the course.

However, if we're talking about a job opportunity or internship, the motivation letter is a way to demonstrate your commitment. In this sense, this is where you need to outline what the opportunity means for your career progress, as well as how aligned you are to the company or organisation's values.

Differences between a motivation letter and a cover letter

Although they might seem the same at first glance, they’re not. While a motivation letter and a cover letter have many traits in common, such as their structure —with an introduction, body and end note— they differ mainly in what they aim to achieve.

On the one hand, a cover letter is directly linked to the search for a job, so it normally goes hand-in-hand with your CV. For this reason, it needs to be much more formal, with a serious tone, providing concrete details on your academic background and work experience that your CV doesn't include. The purpose here is to present your candidacy, outline your skills and demonstrate what your know-how can bring to the company.

A motivation letter, meanwhile, has a different focus for a different recipient. In this sense, it is directed more towards the search for internships, scholarships, a place on a master's course, or a first job.

The core objective is to demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm, successfully conveying to the reader that you are a motivated and noteworthy candidate.  To do this, you need to use a less formal style of writing and outline your personal ambitions in an engaging and creative way. 


Knowing how to present yourself will help you achieve your goals

While it is common to view a motivation letter as an added burden, the fact is it offers an excellent opportunity: it can both change an opinion that the recruiter formed on reading your CV, and sway a hung jury. This is because, with the motivation letter, you can reveal more personal and meaningful aspects than a CV is able to convey.  In short, it allows you to illustrate what makes you stand out from the crowd.

How? Well, like a job interview, an engaging letter of motivation reveals a candidate's communication and interpersonal skills, an in-demand competence in today's fast-changing and highly competitive work of work. So, a motivation letter might just be the key to accessing a range of personal and professional development opportunities.

As part of this aim to boost employability and likewise help people to progress, overcome the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution, and grow in an inclusive and sustainable way, Banco Santander is committed to three key concepts: lifelong learning, professional retraining and further training. To support this commitment, it has created the Santander Scholarships website, a unique and pioneering global programme. 

If you would like to keep growing personally and professionally, head over to the Santander Scholarships website, where you'll find 100s of opportunities to train together with internationally renowned institutions. Access training in technology, languages, research, investigation, soft skills, internships and female leadership, which will help you to improve your employability or refocus your career.

Do you want to become a lifelong learner and increase your job opportunities? The Santander Scholarships website has plenty of options to help you achieve your goals. Check out the website and remember: you can sign up for as many courses as you like. Make the most of this opportunity!

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