We're not going to go in-depth into the psychology of persuasion here, but there are some little-known copywriting (i.e.
advertising) "secrets" that you can employ to influence them to accept you.
It can be a challenge, especially for us engineers who may not enjoy the written word as much as other academics do.
Typically, American universities expect to hear more about your general life, whereas European ones prefer to keep things mainly focused on your academic and work achievements.
For example, if you think they're looking for somebody creative with good design skills and also demonstrates people skills, you could include something like this in your introduction: “You're looking for a high-calibre student with a keen interest in design.
During my undergraduate studies, I took part in several extracurricular design projects which involved coordinating and working with a small team of engineers.”Another copywriting "trick" is to use powerful verbs to inspire or evoke an emotional response – think Nike’s slogan "Just Do It".
I told myself: when I autonomously started the first sentence of my motivation letter, I am already “motivated”: now what I need to do is to support my motivation with relevant arguments and organization. At that time I found the opening ” My name is Tianlin He, a graduating student from……” too ordinary, so I changed it to a short summary, followed by each paragraph talking about an event that I had participated.
This method worked quite well with me: when I tried to describe a particular event, inspiration came immediately and I finished it in only one night!
Microsoft Word has a handy built-in readability checker (based on the Flesch-Kincaid test) and you want the "reading ease" score to be between 60 and 70 points to hit the right spot. Even if you decide not to use half of it, listing all of these things out will give you some ideas of relevant skills you can mention.
A recommended overall structure for the letter is as follows: Before we move on to looking at the actual content of your letter, just a quick note that should really go without saying – stick to the facts. Another mistake people commonly make is to list their skills without providing any evidence, or just generally making vague statements. Give an example: “During my time at XYZ Construction Ltd, I worked closely with various team members to plan and build a gherkin-shaped tower block”.