Who Should You Address Your Cover Letter To?

John Krautzel
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Cover letters have the ability to get your foot in the door or make a potential employer pass you up for an opportunity. In many cases, human resources personnel look at the cover letter first, so you must know who reads your cover letter and determines whether or not you make it to the next step. When writing your cover letter, do your best to find out the correct addressee at the company.

Use a Specific Name If Possible

When you address your cover letter, always look for a specific name, usually the hiring manager, for the addressee. Not only does this show that you have taken the time to find the name of the person you must address for this position, but it also shows courtesy to that person. If you do not find the name of the addressee for the job call, look for a website or another source to get the information you need. Many companies do not like a generic greeting on a cover letter, so it's important find either the name of the hiring manager, the head of personnel or the department to which you are applying.

Choose a Formal Salutation

The cover letter marks the beginning of your communication with personnel in the company, so the addressee scrutinizes your ability to communicate. This means the salutation must begin with an air of formality appropriate to a work setting. If you have a specific name, you may begin with a greeting such as "Dear Jane/John Doe." When you address someone with a non-gender specific name, using both the first and last names works best in order to avoid a mistake. Even if you have a gender-specific name, the first and last names work well as a formal greeting.

Responding with No Name

In some scenarios, you have to write a cover letter in which you do not have a specific name for your addressee because the name has been deliberately omitted, so you must go with a greeting employers prefer. These greetings include:

  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Dear Sir/Madam
  • Dear Human Resources Director
  • Leave it blank, go to first paragraph

Using a non-specific greeting must come only as your last resort as you want to make your cover letter as personable as possible. However, this allows you to set a formal tone for your letter.

Always make sure a job posting has no way to find a specific name before you decide to go with a non-specific greeting for your cover letter. Otherwise, check and double-check the name of the addressee to make sure you have it correct. The greeting makes your first impression, so you must start on the right note.


(Photo courtesy of Master isolated images / freedigitalphotos.net)


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