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How should your CV and motivational letter look?

Creating your CV and motivational letter for ESC is similar to job hunting. With these, you gain the support of the host organization to select you for their project. Two main rules: your letter and CV should be unique and personalized! In your cover letter, address the host organization and its representative by name, highlighting something you genuinely liked about the organization or project so that they feel this letter isn’t mass-sent, but specifically written for them and that it’s important for you to join them.

It’s also useful to include contact details of your sending organization in your cover or motivational letter, as the host organization will need to get in touch with them.

Additionally, it’s helpful to mention if you are in any disadvantaged situation (e.g., many siblings, unemployment, orphanhood, poverty), as applications targeting young people in disadvantaged situations might receive preference. No matter how different the projects are, so are the requirements! It’s worth dedicating time to adjust these two documents for each project to truly highlight the qualities, experiences, and characteristics that are most suitable for that specific project.

The function of the CV is to present your life, experiences, and knowledge clearly and succinctly. You can find excellent examples on the Internet. Remember that these examples are not only available to you but to others as well, so your CV will be one among many. Therefore, it’s worth resizing, coloring, and enriching it with an image, background, or an interesting element. For ESC, you don’t need to send a CV as formal as in job hunting. It might be interesting to create a PowerPoint, video, or montage and send it to host organizations. This way, they will surely remember you better! Additionally, you create the image that you’re a creative, independent personality who is proficient with computers. When listing your experiences, jobs, or schools, it’s worth formulating in a single short sentence what your main subjects were, what you learned, and what you were involved in.

Remember that someone abroad will be reading this, who might not be familiar with the Hungarian school system, and the names of certain specialties, companies, or positions might not mean anything to them. Any experience, knowledge counts! A course, a short student exchange, student council activities, volunteer work (!) – each is a valuable experience! Certainly, don’t forget to include your contact details (with country code for the phone number), and when naming the file, make sure it’s identifiable. The name “CV_ESC.doc” is not necessarily fortunate – instead, it helps a lot if your name is already present in the title, for example, kovacs_peter_CV.doc. You can attach references, photos, even a favorite video to your CV. The function of the motivational letter is to explain why you are the MOST SUITABLE for that project and why you are interested in that project (and only that project :)). Convince them why they should choose you! Be confident, don’t be modest, be realistic! Avoid the conditional mode!

Here, the most important thing is to prepare your letter specifically for that project. Tell them what captivated you in the respective organization, highlight one project or another. Explain why you like them, argue that you studied their description, their website. If you have ideas about how you would like to get involved in their activities, tell them. You can write about why you want to go to that specific country, why ESC is important to you, but be careful not to write the same things differently.

The sentence “I want to get to know other cultures” is said by almost every volunteer, so it’s better to write something like “I love baguettes, so I want to go to France” Be concise, don’t repeat the same thing you’ve already written in your CV, but highlight those milestones that justify the most why they should choose you! You can say, for example, what you found really interesting about their project, and why you could perform that task well, but you can also talk about why it’s important for you to be an ESC volunteer. You can talk about your goals, plans, ideas. It’s also worth beautifying and formatting the motivational letter. It can contain images, and it’s important that this document is beautiful and easy to read. Provide them with the opportunity to quickly go through your letter if they wish and find the essence in it. You can even add subtitles for each paragraph and, of course, highlight the more significant sentences with bold characters.

Source: Messzelátó Association