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Dear MissCareerless… Your Private Job Coach ANSWERS #2

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Dear MissCareerLess,

I see you did your homework and let me tell you your motivational letter has some very interesting points people more experienced and older than you often appear to forget.

So let’s see what we have here… A motivation letter for an MA application:

MA application

The simplest things might be the best ones

I love the tar road example: sometimes the simplest things are the easiest to remember, especially in a context that tends to get so abstract like a cover letter. When writing, people think mentioning real life episodes sounds naïf and informal compared to listing a number of unrealistic adjectives to describe themselves. Nothing more wrong! Even if no one knew your name, after reading your motivational letter you would be “the tar road girl”. Sounds funny? It sounds like they will keep you and your letter in mind.

Don’t shy away from being YOU

I believe the first paragraph of your letter is great, it’s clear and vivid; generally everything you wrote is useful and interesting but in the second paragraph it turns into an echo of who you are. When someone reads you, she needs to be able to listen to your voice. A motivational letter is not the place for anyone to be shy and low. So although your letter doesn’t show any big mistake, I would say it partly lacks some colour and passion. It’s like a nice black and white drawing. Now, let’s colour a bit inside the lines.

Honesty remains the best policy

Something I would advise everyone to avoid is the use of the passive forms of the verbs, because the reader will automatically focus on something else than you. I have been exposed to a wide variety of courses is less incisive a sentence than what its meaning could allow you to express. Moreover, when you mention the subjects you have studied in your Bachelor’s programme, try and be more specific about the topics that were pivotal in your education to make you apply for this specific course. Some questions would probably help you come up with some more lively information about you and your motivation.


[Related: Mind the mind’s eye]

Which are the qualifications most relevant to the programme and how did you achieve them so far? How do you want to apply what the programme offers in your career and life? Do you know what you want to become? If what it takes you to achieve that is getting into this programme, make it very clear! Some people could feel some pressure or stress trying to answer these questions, but take a deep breath and remember you are the one asking so it’s just a matter between you and yourself. Take your time and don’t be afraid to make a statement. If in five or ten years you will change your mind – and career – you’ll regret nothing because you were honest!

Use that 3rd eye

My last advice, which you probably considered already, is to ask a professor at your University to check your letter before applying. It’s always good to have a third party comment on your letter, be it a relative, a friend or a teacher, I’m sure you will find someone willing to help you with that. And that’s what we are here for too, aren’t we?


Do you have a cover letter/motivational letter you want feedback on?

Don’t be shy; let us help you: Send us your letter with #GetHired in the subject line and let us do the rest!


Alessandra Marino
Alessandra Marino is an Italian writer and translator. She has lived four years in China, mainly working in the communication and media field. There she also spent one year as a recruiter, and found that most of the people who are trying to get their way into the right career path have trouble taking the first step to make their name known out there: describing who they are. Alessandra has also worked as a communication trainee at the European Commission and she is now living in Italy where she helps people putting in words what they need to succeed.

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