What is a motivation statement?

Candidates attach motivation statements to resumes to convince the HR specialist that they are the most suitable hire for the position. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as motivation letters. 

Motivation statements are a short piece of writing about an individual and their past, interests, aspirations, and personality.

Understanding motivation statements

Motivation statements should not be confused with cover letters, however. Motivation statements describe one’s passion for an opportunity while a cover letter is more formal and emphasizes one’s relevant job skills and expertise.

Motivation statements may also be useful as part of an application for:

  • Mortgages or other types of loans.
  • Research funding.
  • Visas to enter or study in another country.
  • Internship or volunteer programs at a non-profit.
  • College admission.
  • Scholarships, and
  • Conference participation.

How to structure a motivation statement

The most effective motivation statements are no longer than one page, so use the space wisely. 

With that in mind, there is no need to overcomplicate a motivation statement. Many use a three-paragraph structure with the following elements:

  1. Introduction (first paragraph) – here, include a short but engaging pitch about who you are and why you’re applying. Like an academic essay, use this section to introduce the key points you’ll expand on later.
  2. Body (second paragraph) – use the body to sell yourself by detailing relevant skills and achievements. Be as factual as possible since the person reading your statement has likely read hundreds and can tell real stories from those that are fabricated.
  3. Conclusion (third paragraph) – to wrap up, summarize the main points, explain your overarching goal, and thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Note that additional paragraphs can be added to the body section to explain multiple points where necessary.

Motivation statement best practices

To write a motivation statement that stands out from a vast pool of candidates, ensure the content is tailored to the specific organization, program, or position.

If submitting multiple applications, resist the urge to copy and paste and avoid generalizations at all costs.

Then, follow these best practices:

  1. Research contact details – to determine who is responsible for processing the application, research their contact details and address them directly from the start. For example, “Dear Mr. Smith”.
  2. Determine program requirements – list at least three requirements and then explain how you are the best fit for the position.
  3. Build rapport – this can be achieved by telling a short story or concrete personal examples of how you align with the organization’s values.
  4. Be authentic – show that you are passionate about the role without coming across as insincere. To do this, link specific reasons for wanting to work for the organization with demonstrated knowledge while selling yourself at the same time. 

How motivation statements differ from Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is a five-step tool used to deliver persuasive speeches that inspire the audience to take action. 

Monroe’s motivated sequence was created by American psychologist Alan Monroe, who had an interest in persuasive speech delivery. Monroe’s motivated sequence uses the psychology of persuasion to develop an outline for delivering speeches.

Developed by American psychologist Alan Monroe in the 1930s, the sequence has been used as the basis for political speeches, public awareness campaigns, and marketing campaigns.

In essence, the outline for persuasive communication involves:

  • Attracting the audience’s attention.
  • Establishing that the current situation is unacceptable, negatively impacts them, and needs to change.
  • Proposing a solution that addresses a need or solves a problem.
  • Inviting the audience to visualize what their future would look like if the solution were implemented, and
  • Concluding with a call to action where the speaker tells a motivated and primed audience what they would like them to do.

While Monroe’s framework was designed for public speakers and has more versatility than a motivation statement, both aim to compel the listener (or reader) to take some form of desirable action.

In a motivation statement, the action a candidate wants the recruiter to take is to be convinced of their credentials and hire them for the position.

Both approaches also require the individual to understand and connect with the audience before realizing a beneficial outcome.

In a motivation statement, the audience is usually the organization in question or the person responsible for filling the position.

Key takeaways:

  • Motivation statements are a short piece of writing about an individual and their past, interests, aspirations, and personality.
  • To write a motivation statement that stands out, ensure the content is tailored to the specific organization, program, or position. Best practices for writing them include researching contact details and program requirements, building rapport, and being authentic.
  • While Monroe’s Motivated Sequence was designed for public speakers and is more versatile than a motivation statement, both aim to compel the listener (or reader) to take some form of desirable action.

Six Thinking Hats

The Six Thinking Hats model was created by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1986, who noted that personality type was a key driver of how people approached problem-solving. For example, optimists view situations differently from pessimists. Analytical individuals may generate ideas that a more emotional person would not, and vice versa.

Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping uses flowcharts to analyze and then improve on the delivery of products and services. Value stream mapping (VSM) is based on the concept of value streams – which are a series of sequential steps that explain how a product or service is delivered to consumers.

Affinity Grouping

Affinity grouping is a collaborative prioritization process where group participants brainstorm ideas and opportunities according to their similarities. Affinity grouping is a broad and versatile process based on simple but highly effective ideas. It helps teams generate and then organize teams according to their similarity or likeness.

Fishbone Diagram

The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, thus it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.


Eighteen years later, it was adapted by psychologist Bob Eberle in his book SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development. The SCAMPER method was first described by advertising executive Alex Osborne in 1953. The SCAMPER method is a form of creative thinking or problem solving based on evaluating ideas or groups of ideas.

MECE Framework

The MECE framework is an exhaustive expression of information that must account for all conceivable scenarios. While the framework is used in categorizing information and data processing, it is commonly used in formulating problems and then solving them. The MECE framework is a means of the exhaustive grouping of information into categories that are both mutually exclusive (ME) and collectively exhaustive (CE).

Nadler-Tushman Congruence

The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model was created by David Nadler and Michael Tushman at Columbia University. The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a diagnostic tool that identifies problem areas within a company. In the context of business, congruence occurs when the goals of different people or interest groups coincide.

Lewin’s Change Management

Lewin’s change management model helps businesses manage the uncertainty and resistance associated with change. Kurt Lewin, one of the first academics to focus his research on group dynamics, developed a three-stage model. He proposed that the behavior of individuals happened as a function of group behavior.

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