Thanks very much to ILYSAN for posting extensive advice at How to write a letter of motivation or job cover letter!.

And here is a COVER LETTER WEBSITE with information and examples.

In addition, here are some extensive comments by an experienced and knowledgeable advisor:


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MANY initial attempts at motivation letters are poor because the letters do not convey a sense of the individual. Instead, they are often stories: "Once upon a time I was born and had a childhood; I plan to go to university, start a great career, marry a prince or princess, and then live happily ever after. The End." Unfortunately, that tells the reader very little about you.

Other initial attempts provide a laundry list of schools and activities. "I went to this prestigious school; I participated in that activity; I held this office in this club; I speak 10 different languages, sometimes simultaneously; this program in university is next on my checklist." Again, that tells very little about you, other than that you've been busy.

Before you even begin to write your letter, think of who you are. What motivates you? What do you like and dislike? What brings you pleasure? What annoys you? What are you naturally good at? What are your weaknesses? You might want to look at a job hunter's book called What Color Is My Parachute. In that book are a lot of exercises that will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

You should also take a personality test to learn more about yourself. One very popular test is called the Meyer Briggs test. You can complete an online test. If you search for books at using the search terms Meyers Briggs, you can purchase books related to the test as well. You will learn how to better interpret the results.

NOW you have a better understanding of yourself. You know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you know what you like and dislike, and you know how your personality fits in with your career aspirations. Next, decide what your selling points will be.
If you wanted a friend to describe you in a positive light, what would you want him or her to say? If that friend said you were smart, what proof or evidence does your friend have? What you should do is make a list of your positive selling points with evidence or proof to support your assertion. These selling points should align with your career goals.

When you are writing your motivation letter, you need to do the following things:

[*]Be very clear on what you want to achieve (get a nursing degree)
[*]Be very clear on what you will do with this degree (how do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years)?
[*]Why do you want to pursue your chosen career? You know the answer to this question from your strengths and weaknesses as well as from your personality profile.
[*]What have you done to prepare yourself for your chosen career? Here you are selling yourself. Use your prior information and your supporting evidence to bolster your position.
[*]Highlight anything that is extraordinary that needs to be taken into consideration.

Looking at these five items, you can see that you need not tell a story about your life. In fact, doing so probably doesn't really address the heart of the issue as outlined by points 3 and 4.

You might think that providing them a laundry list of schools and activities fills your objective. No, wrong-- again, it merely tells the reader that you were busy and it fails miserably to address point 3.

Let's take a closer look at writing your motivation letter:

Covering points 1 and 2 ought to be very straightforward. Next, think about why you want this career. What motivates you? What do you like about it? What passions does it stir in you? How do you see yourself performing in this role? Does it suit your personality?

Now begin to tell about things in your past that suggest you and your career goals are aligned. Tell about those activities that support your career aspirations or things needed for your career. Your activities need not be directly applicable.

For example, my first degree was a mechanical engineering degree. In point or short form (as a crude example)--

I like science. I have always been interested in science.
I like taking things apart and putting them back together again.
I like following technological developments and seeing their implications.
I like problem-solving.
I like building things.
I played a lot of sports as a kid.
I learned the values of teamwork and commitment.
I learned how to concentrate and focus on goals.
I learned how to structure my time to fit my activities into my schedule.

With my personal traits and a science background, I knew that I would be well prepared for business as well. An engineering background is an excellent pathway to business. I always enjoyed learning about business. I found it fascinating. So it is easy for me to talk about my career ambition (engineer) and what I want to do (be employed in an engineering capacity).

Why? Here I can talk about how I have always done well in school in math and sciences. I can talk about how I enjoy problem-solving and figuring things out. I can talk about how I enjoy fixing things (cars and my bikes). I can talk about how I love science in general and am always interested in learning how things work.

What else? I played a lot of sports as a kid. I learned the values of teamwork, how to win, how to work hard, how to focus and concentrate, and how to balance my time and priorities. Now I can just briefly mention the activities that support what I have learned. The key point in this discussion is NOT what activities I have participated in, but rather what I have learned and experienced. The activities are merely the supporting arguments to what I am claiming.

Anything else? I could talk briefly about business. At that time, my exposure to business was minimal, but I enjoyed reading the business pages. I didn't fully understand what was happening, but I was fascinated by how companies operated and the effects on their stock prices.

So the above commentary gives me lots of stuff to play with for a letter. All I need to do now is provide a summary paragraph. This summary should weave much of the information already discussed into a coherent and strong paragraph that demonstrates my passion for wanting to become an engineer.

The key to all this is to let the reader get to know you. Knowing your activities doesn't tell the reader about you. If someone were to ask the reader to describe you, could s/he provide an accurate description and assessment? Or would s/he be forced to recite your life story or just provide a list of activities? In my case, she could say, "He is a typical kid with interests in math and science who plays sports. He seems to understand hard work, time management, and the need to focus and persevere. He has some lofty goals in his life, and I hope they work out."

That's it. It isn't hard. But you need to tell the reader who you are. If you don't do that, you've failed to communicate your message. Remember, this is an opportunity to sell yourself. Get used to it-- it's an important part of life. You need to be able to present your case for many opportunities in life.

Finally, keep in mind that there is no one correct way to write you letter, so long as you convey the five elements mentioned earlier.

(Do not post to these explanatory threads.)
There's also Sample cover letter


Dear Mr/Ms [surname]:
I request an opportunity to meet with you to review my salary. I feel that this is the appropriate time for a salary review because [choose one, or write your own]: "I have been with the company for a year without a raise", or "I have recently made a significant contribution to the company", or "annual review is approaching/overdue", or "we agreed to review my salary after the first three months".

I was hired by [your company name] for my ability and experience in [Review the reason they wanted you] I believe that an increase in my salary is now warranted. [State why you deserve the raise; here is a list to help you. Pick one or two, not too many]:
  • I have successfully taken responsibility for ...
  • I have a number of accomplishments to my credit:...
  • My knowledge and skill in ... has allowed the company to...
  • I have demonstrated an ability to work independently and take initiative.
  • I put in long days, weekend work, and "on-call" work.
  • I have taken initiative, for example...
  • I have been working at this salary for *** months; a change in pay level is appropriate.
  • I work independently, keeping the cost of supervision to a minimum.
  • I assume and handle management responsibilities, traditionally highly paid work.
  • My responsibilities have increased...
  • I have demonstrated a commitment to the company.
I would like you to know that I view my future at [company name] very positively. I want to continue to ... I anticipate some day...

I have been led to believe that you are satisfied with my work, so I am confident that you will want to sincerely consider my request.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely yours,