by Matt Alderton | November 27, 2018
If you want to land your dream job, it will take more than a strong resume to make you stand out. An eye-catching cover letter also is essential, according to Glassdoor contributor Amy Elisa Jackson.

"While many job applications have the word 'optional' next to the field that asks for a cover letter, it shouldn't be overlooked," Jackson says. "After all, a cover letter is intended to show you off and captivate a hiring manager, kind of like a movie trailer. It's meant to tease and entice the recruiter or hiring manager to keep reading and be so interested in you that they simply cannot put down your resume. Think: personable and professional."

Unfortunately, a weak cover letter can hurt your chances of getting hired just as easily as a strong one can help them. So, how can you make yours better?

To instantly improve your cover letter, Jackson recommends striking from it a few common words and phrases that are guaranteed to irk hiring managers.

One phrase you should eliminate from your cover letter, for instance, is "To Whom It May Concern." "Generic salutations, while professional, can be a bit sterile," Jackson says. "Do a little digging to find the name of the hiring manager or the recruiter."

Want to show that you can "think outside the box" or do the "heavy lifting" for your team? Don't say so. "Recruiters read thousands of cover letters and resumes. It's their job. So try hard to make reading your cover letter a treat," Jackson continues. "Be creative instead of using meaningless buzzwords."

Finally: Show, don't tell. "Let's say you're applying for a marketing director position," career expert Heather Huhman tells Jackson. "Among other aspects in the description, the job requires several years of marketing experience, a deep knowledge of lead generation and strong communication skills. Describe how, in your previous role as a marketing manager, you ran several campaigns for your clients and exceeded their expectations of lead generation (with specific numbers, if possible), and how you also trained and mentored new associates on how to manage their own accounts, which improved client retention rates."

When you use specific anecdotes to illustrate your experience, hiring managers can't help but envision you in the role.

"You're proving that you can meet the communication standards and marketing knowledge they're seeking," Huhman concludes.

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