Your cover letter is your opportunity to grab a recruiter’s attention. It is the hook that gets an employer to read your resume and invite you for an interview.

Standing out from other job candidates is challenging, so it often works well to get a little creative in your cover letter. In doing so, it is important to remember that too much information can push your letter from engaging to over-sharing.

What doesn’t work:

A recruiter does not want to know anything about your family background or your relationship history. These details are irrelevant and cause the recruiter to doubt your qualifications. Other personal information such as age, marital status, race, religion, or health should also be removed from your cover letter. You need to prove your abilities quickly and efficiently. Avoid writing about anything related to your weaknesses or inexperience in your cover letter. Focus on your strengths.

Job candidates who share too much unrelated information will be quickly discarded by recruiters.

What works:

Set yourself apart from other job candidates by talking about actions you took and the positive results of those actions. Tell a story about your experiences relevant to the position. Include details showing you researched the company and the job description. Write your cover letter in concise paragraphs, including only the relevant details. Make sure to proofread your cover letters to demonstrate your professionalism and ability to communicate effectively.

Job candidates who stay focused and highlight their best skills will make stronger impressions on recruiters.

In the end, cover letters are supposed to showcase how you can impact a company and why you are the best person for the job. Anything beyond is TMI. A recruiter has a limited amount of time to read through cover letters, so be concise and prove your worth.

What problems have you noticed with job candidates’ cover letters? What details are important to include?