How to Write a Letter of Motivation
When applying for a PhD position in Germany, applicants are often asked to submit a letter of motivation (sometimes called a “statement of purpose”). In contrast to a CV which lists dates and information regarding one’s educational and professional background, a letter of motivation presents one’s personal background, qualifications, experience and professional goals in a short, but informative way. Because of their personal nature, these letters play an important role in the selection process.
How do you write a successful letter of motivation?
1.) Take your time and start early. A letter of motivation is a very important document. Don’t try to write it in one evening. 2.) Your letter of motivation should answer the following questions: • What are your professional goals? Which sector would you like to work in after obtaining your PhD? • Why are you applying for this specific PhD position? Which aspect of the position or research topic is especially interesting to you and/or beneficial in pursuing your professional goals? • How does the PhD position fit into your academic background? • Why do you think you are the right person for this position? • Have you already gained professional/scientific experience relevant to this position? • How could you best apply your knowledge and acquired skills to this position? • How could the institution (or organisation), to which you are applying, benefit by selecting you and what could you contribute to the project or programme? Try to put yourself in the employer’s position and avoid writing in the first-person only. 3.) Your letter of motivation should be well structured – very much like an essay. First, think about the questions above, take notes and discuss them with friends. Then make an outline. Afterwards, write a first draft. (You don’t necessarily have to include answers to all the questions above.) Do not include the outline or the questions in your text. Read it again and...
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