What's the point of a cover letter anyway? Many of us wonder that exact thing as we wade through our resumes and job applications--hoping to land a great, new job.

Although many of us think cover letters are redundant or superfluous (isn't your resume the most important thing?), your cover letter can make the difference between whether your resume gets read, or just thrown in the trash.

A killer cover letter has the power to get the person who reads it interested in learning more about you, which can give you an edge over other candidates. In fact, a really great cover letter can sometimes lead directly to a job offer.

Here are 5 powerful tips for creating a cover letter that will make you stand out from the rest of the pack, and may just change your future for the better.

1. Don't rehash your resume

The biggest cover letter mistake is to take exactly what we wrote in our resume and say it all over again. A killer cover letter puts the focus on the organization you're applying to, as well as the description of the open position. Then quickly point out how your experience makes you uniquely qualified for that position. The purpose of your cover letter is to amplify your resume, not to duplicate it.

2. Leave out clichés

Keep any phrases that appear less than meaningful out of your text. With every sentence, you should be asking yourself how these words help the employer better understand why you're the best person for the job. An example of a cliché to avoid is saying that you're a "hard worker" or that you are "eager to learn." Most everyone uses those words in their resumes, and they will do little to convince an employer to hire you.

3. Do some research

Learn about the company culture before you write your cover letter, not after. Reach out to your network to see if anyone has had experience with this business before. Do everything in your power to learn as much information as you can before writing a cover letter specific to the organization. Demonstrate that you're familiar with their recent projects, their past initiatives, and previous successful campaigns. Your knowledge will definitely stand out--and so will you.

4. Explain how you fit

Great cover letters go beyond simply reciting your credentials--they show how you will fit into to the company's existing structure and team, and take it to an even higher level. It's best to keep away from beginning sentences with "I", since that shows why you would personally benefit from the job--not how the company benefits from having you fill it.

5. Don't use a template

Anyone can go on Google and search for what a cover letter is supposed to look like. While the examples you'll find on Google can help you structure your letter, don't just copy a cover letter template word for word, and don't be afraid to deviate from the norm. When you're applying for a new job, standing out in a sea of sameness can be a very good thing.

Published on: Nov 16, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.