The Motivational Letter is the document that should complement your resume when you are applying for aavailable vacancy. In academic context, the letter used is often called statement of purpose, and is formatted somewhat different rules. The motivational letter is short (200-250 words), with a quite inflexible structure and has the layout of a letter.
Its objective is to introduce the resume, to spotlight aspects of your profile that can help your application and are not presented in the proper light in the resume. Briefly, its goal is to answer the recruiter’s question: “Why should I hire this person?”.
The layout is that of a formal business letter: your address and contacts come under your name, in the upper right corner of the page. Bellow, on the left, write the name, function, organization and contacts of the person you are writing to. In a case you are familiar with the name of the person who is going to read your letter, you should address the letter directly to him or her. If you do not know the name and contact, a little web search or a phone call should help you get that name, in case it is not mentioned in the public call. Under the receiver’s address, but on the right, write the date of the day when you are writing the motivational letter. You should spell the name of the month and use four digits for the year. You can put in front of the date the location, like Johanesburg, 12th November 2012.
If you do know the name of the recruiter, start with Dear Mr (Mister), Ms (Miss), Mrs (Mistress), Dr (Doctor), without the full stop that you might expect to follow the abbreviation, and the surname of this person, followed by comma (Dear Mr Jones,). In this case, you should end the letter with the salutation Yours sincerely. If you do not know the name, start with Dear Sirs, or Dear Sir or Madam and close with Yours faithfully. In the US business correspondence, Yours truly is acceptable in both cases. Do not start the body of the mail with a capital letter, since it follows a comma.
In a best case, a motivational letter has no more than 4 paragraphs. The goal of the 1st is to specify what you are applying for and how did you heard about that vacancy. The last one outlines your availability for an interview, suggesting in this way a concrete follow-up for your application.
The 2nd paragraph should list your qualifications and that make you the appropriate person for the post you are applying for. Read carefully the ad, identify the requirements and see how your professional profile matches those required. Do not simply state you possess them, prove it. In the best case, you should start from your experience and show how you have developed those qualifications by doing what you have been doing/learning. Same as in the case of your resume, the result should portrait you as a creative, independent person with initiative and ability to deal with responsibilities, apart from the specific skills needed for the job. Briefly, the second paragraph should show why you are good for the job.
The third paragraph should point out why you want this job. You should state your interest for the skills you are going to learn if you get the job. You should leave the impression that you can make a genuine contribution to the company’s operations, while simultaneously deriving satisfaction from your work.
After the 4th paragraph leave a blank line, same as you should do in the beginning, after the salutation (Dear). Write the proper closing, as described above and your name. Do not forget to leave a blank space between the closing and your name personal signiture.
It is customary for formal letters to mention whether you have enclosed any documents accompanying the letter. Simply mention enclosure, or write resume under the heading enclosure at the end of the letter.
Print the letter on letter sized/a4 white paper same as that on which your resume was printed, and put both documents in an A4 envelope of matching color. If you are emailing it request a notification that your documents have been received in good order. Wait at least two weeks since the day you sent your application or after the deadline before writing again in the case you did not get any response.