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.

DefinitionA Motivation Statement is a written or verbal declaration that articulates an individual’s or a group’s underlying reasons, desires, and driving forces behind pursuing a particular goal, undertaking a specific action, or making a significant decision. It aims to clarify the motivating factors that propel someone or a team toward a desired outcome, providing insight into their aspirations and the “why” behind their actions. Motivation Statements are commonly used in personal development, goal setting, career planning, and project management.
Key ConceptsClarity: Motivation Statements seek to bring clarity to one’s objectives and reasons for pursuing them. – Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: The statement may encompass both intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivators. – Goal Alignment: It aligns personal or group goals with motivations for consistency and commitment. – Inspiration: A well-crafted statement can serve as a source of inspiration and determination. – Purpose: The statement highlights the deeper purpose or meaning behind actions.
CharacteristicsPersonalized: Motivation Statements are highly personalized and reflect an individual’s unique drivers. – Positive Language: They often use positive and affirmative language to reinforce motivation. – Future-Oriented: These statements typically focus on future goals and aspirations. – Concise: While expressive, Motivation Statements are generally concise and to the point. – Commitment: They express a commitment to taking action to achieve the stated goals.
ImplicationsClarity: A clear Motivation Statement helps individuals understand their own aspirations better. – Commitment: It reinforces commitment to the pursuit of goals by highlighting personal or group motivations. – Focus: The statement serves as a constant reminder, helping to stay focused on objectives. – Resilience: In challenging times, the statement can boost resilience by reminding of underlying motivations. – Decision Support: It aids in decision-making by aligning choices with motivations.
AdvantagesGoal Alignment: It aligns actions and decisions with personal or group motivations. – Increased Persistence: A strong motivation statement can increase perseverance and determination. – Inspiration: It can inspire individuals and teams to overcome obstacles and work toward their goals. – Clarity: It provides clarity about one’s objectives and the path to achieve them. – Goal Achievement: Motivation Statements can contribute to greater success in achieving desired outcomes.
DrawbacksSubjectivity: Motivation Statements are highly subjective and can vary greatly from person to person. – Changing Motivations: Motivations may change over time, rendering the statement less applicable. – External Factors: External factors may influence motivation independently of the statement. – Ineffectiveness: If not genuinely felt or believed, a motivation statement may be less effective. – Overreliance: Relying solely on the statement without practical actions may lead to stagnation.
ApplicationsPersonal Development: Individuals use Motivation Statements in personal growth and self-improvement journeys. – Career Planning: Professionals employ them for career goal setting and decision-making. – Project Management: Teams use motivation statements to align project goals with team motivations. – Education: Students may create motivation statements to stay focused on academic goals. – Leadership: Leaders may use such statements to inspire and motivate their teams toward a common objective.

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.

Key Highlights

  • Motivation Statements: Candidates use motivation statements, also known as motivation letters, to express their suitability for a position by highlighting their past experiences, interests, aspirations, and personality.
  • Difference from Cover Letters: Motivation statements differ from cover letters. Motivation statements focus on passion for an opportunity, while cover letters emphasize relevant job skills and expertise.
  • Applications Beyond Resumes: Motivation statements can be utilized for various purposes, such as applying for mortgages, research funding, visas, internships, college admissions, scholarships, and conference participation.
  • Structuring a Motivation Statement: The most effective motivation statements are concise (around one page). A common three-paragraph structure involves an engaging introduction, a detailed body highlighting skills and achievements, and a concluding summary of main points and goals.
  • Best Practices: Tailor content to the specific organization or position, avoid copying generic content, research contact details for personalized addressing, list program requirements and explain how you meet them, build rapport through personal stories, and maintain authenticity.
  • Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is a five-step persuasive communication tool designed for speeches. It aims to attract attention, highlight an issue’s negative impact, propose a solution, visualize the positive outcomes, and conclude with a call to action.
  • Comparison to Motivation Statements: While Monroe’s Sequence is versatile and used for speeches, both it and motivation statements seek to compel the audience (or reader) to take a desirable action. In motivation statements, the action is convincing the recruiter to hire the candidate.
  • Understanding the Audience: Both approaches require understanding and connecting with the audience. In motivation statements, the audience is the organization or the person responsible for hiring.

Read Next: Lasswell Communication Model, Linear Model Of Communication.

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