The purpose of this article is to provide you with the differences and key similarities between a motivation letter and a cover letter, as well as how to write them.
A motivation letter is an informal document that provides additional information about the candidate’s motivations, such as what they hope to achieve during their study as well as any outside activities. On the other hand, a cover letter is an introduction or brief biography of oneself which accompanies one’s resume or curriculum vitae (CV). The cover letter should be no longer than three paragraphs and written in third person.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is an introduction to oneself. It needs to be short and personal, but does not need to add any additional information about one’s resume.
What is a motivation letter?
A motivation letter is a reflective exercise, which may be written as a personal reflection of the candidate’s expectations of the position and what they hope to achieve during their study. It could also address other aspects of their life that they feel are important in order for them to succeed in their post-study activities. It may also provide additional information about one’s experiences while in schools and institutions, such as how they were able to balance their studies with extracurricular activities.
How are they different?
The main difference is that a motivation letter will contain additional, more personal information about one’s motivations for wanting to pursue the position and the other activities they hope to participate in during their studies. A cover letter is meant for short informative purposes only, and should remain very brief.
How are they similar?
They both serve as introductions or reflections of oneself to an employer. They both need to be written in third person. They do not have a specific format, but need to be organized independently. Both should be included when sending one’s resume or curriculum vitae (CV) to a potential employer.
Additionally, the following are some important tips and guidelines on how to write a cover letter:
Use first person if you are addressing an individual as opposed to an institution. If addressing more than 1 employer, then utilize “To Whom It May Concern” instead of the more formal, “Dear Sir/Madam.” In the event that the “To Whom It May Concern” line is not available in your reference management system, then you may use the standard salutation of “To Whom it MAY concern.”
Write your hints in bullet form and concisely. Do not pad out your letter with unnecessary sentences and words. Place the most important information in the first paragraph.
Keep it short and tight. Writing a cover letter that is too long makes it seem as if you did not know what to write about yourself. Do not exceed three paragraphs and make sure that your letter does not exceed one page in length for a single page resume or CV to be considered for international jobs abroad.
Do not attach more than one cover letter per cover letter reference page, even if you are applying for different positions at different companies. Attach an additional cover letter reference page only when the organization requires it, such as the U.S.