What’s The Best Way To Address A Cover Letter?

Published on: 30 November 2020

No matter if you are a fresh graduate or you are on a move for a big career change, you will need a strong cover letter to enhance your chances of getting an interview and potentially a new job!

But have this in mind.

The biggest pet peeve for the recruiters is starting your cover letter with:

  • Dear Sir or Madam
  • To whom it may concern

OK, but how to address the cover letter then?

Short answer – be specific.

In the following article, you will learn:

  • How to address a cover letter without having a name
  • How to find the hiring manager’s name
  • What title is appropriate for your cover letter
  • Bad and good examples of addressing a cover letter

Let’s dive into it!

How to Address a Cover Letter Without a Name

We highly recommend that you try and find out the name of the contact person.

Most employers will be impressed that you have spent some extra time finding this information.

But if you are unable to find any info about the person you are about to address your cover letter to, don’t worry.

Show that you’ve thoroughly read the job description by tailoring your resume to the specific job and company.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What company department is the job part of?
  • Who will you be reporting to?

In the end, you can still use some of the following acceptable options:

  • Dear Hiring manager
  • Dear Finance Department
  • Dear Company XYZ Recruiter
  • To the Marketing Department
  • Dear Head of Design
  • Dear Company ABC Team
  • Dear Customer Service Manager

As we mentioned, adding the name of your contact person will make your cover letter way better.

Follow our tips to avoid applying with a cover letter without a name and significantly increase your chances of being spotted!

How to Enter Detective Mode & Find the Hiring Manager’s Name

Addressing a specific person tells the recruiters that you’ve written the cover letter for this exact role.

Furthermore, it shows that you’ve taken the initiative to learn more about the company and its members.

There are 3 effective ways to find information about your future employer:

  • Search the Company Website
  • Contact the Company Directly
  • Search LinkedIn

Searching the company’s website will provide you with valuable information about the cause and mission of the organization along with the team behind it.

For example, if you are about to write a cover letter for a vacant position at Enhancv, you should check the company tab in the footer of the website.

Enhancv What’s The Best Way To Address A Cover Letter?

Now, you have an insight into who is working and how big is the team of your future company.

Moreover, you have a variety of names to continue your research with.

The next step is checking Enhancv in the world’s leading platform that connects professionals – LinkedIn.

Enhancv What’s The Best Way To Address A Cover Letter?

Some of those names look familiar, aren’t they?

Clicking on each of the profiles will give you even more valuable information about company members and their roles.

Enhancv What’s The Best Way To Address A Cover Letter?

As it’s clear from the image, Volen is one of the founders of Enhancv, and he will probably be part of the hiring process in some way.

But let’s say you are applying for the position of a content writer.

Enhancv What’s The Best Way To Address A Cover Letter?

Then, Kaloyan is your focus contact, since he is responsible for the content production and management at the company.

This is how easy researching your content person is!

But how to proceed if your future employer is not part of LinkedIn?

Just contact the company directly. Explain that you’re applying for a job and would like to address your cover letter to the correct person. Alternatively, you can email the company.

What Title to Use in your Cover Letter Greeting

In most circumstances, such as when you know your future employer well, it is appropriate to use “Dear”.

For other cases follow these tips:

  • For people who you know well on a first-name basis, use their first name only. For a business associate or acquaintance, you should use their first name if you have met them more than once.
  • For potential employers, it’s appropriate to use Mr., Ms., or Dr., and add the name afterward.
  • If you are unsure of the appropriate greeting, use Mr./Ms./Dr. [last name] or Mr./Ms./Dr. [first name, last name] as the safest option

How to Address a Cover Letter for a Non-Gender-Specific Name

Do you know that nearly 1 percent of Americans (1 in every 109 to be precise) have a unisex name?

Parker, Blake, Taylor are all popular neutral gender names. And the list goes on…

Let’s imagine the following situation:

You researched the company’s website and LinkedIn profile but still don’t know who will be your contact person. Furthermore, you have contacted your future employer to ask directly.

The answer – your resume and cover letter will be reviewed by Taylor Smith.

How to avoid any mistakes if you are not sure whether your contact person is a man or a woman?

Address your cover resume with gender-neutral greetings:

  • Dear Human Resources Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear Head of Design

By doing that, you will be on the safe side.

How to Address a Cover Letter for a Woman (with Ms. or Mrs.)

There are 2 common ways to address a woman, depending on whether she’s single or married, and based on the information you have:

  • Ms. – “Ms.” followed by her last name is appropriate if you are not sure if she is married or not. Moreover, this also applies if you are uncertain if she holds a specific title such as a doctorate.
  • Mrs. – “Mrs.” followed by the woman’s last name is typically used for married women.

Note that, even if you know a woman is married, it is safer to use “Ms.” as opposed to “Mrs.,” as the latter may be offensive in some circumstances.

How NOT to Address a Cover Letter – Common Mistakes

As we mentioned, the biggest mistake is starting your cover letter with “to whom it may concern”.

Since the goal of your cover letter is to impress the hiring manager and secure a job interview, personalizing the greeting is valuable.

Using “to whom it may concern” is outdated and creates the feeling that your cover letter is not created for the specific position.

The same goes for “Dear sir or madam”.

It also sounds out of place in the 21st century and we highly recommend avoiding it.

Always try to find a way to customize your greeting so that it addresses the specific person.

Should a cover letter have the same header as the candidate’s resume?

Relying on our many years of experience, we can say that the best approach is matching the headers of your resume and cover letter.

Don’t forget that resumes and cover letters go hand in hand.

While it is acceptable for the header of your resume or cover letter to share more information than the other, the personal details shared between the two should be the same.

Even if your summary is quickly scannable, recruiters might struggle to make sense of all the data you’re sharing with them, especially if your resume is 2-3 pages long.

That’s why a cover letter is a valuable addition to it, as it is easier to read with all information structured into paragraphs.

Learn more about all similarities and differences between resumes and cover letters in our detailed guide here!

Conclusion

Now, you should feel well equipped to address your cover letter regardless if you know your contact person or not.

Let’s sum it all up:

  • There are 3 effective ways to find information about your future employer – search the company website, check LinkedIn, and contact the company directly.
  • If you still don’t know the name of your hiring manager, you can use general greetings:
    • Dear Hiring manager
    • To the Marketing Department
    • Dear Head of Design and so on.
  • All greetings above are applicable if you are not sure of the gender of your contact person too.
  • There are two common greetings for women – Ms. and Mrs.
  • You should always avoid using “To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir or Madam”.
  • Unification of your resume and cover letter header is preferable.

***

What did you think of this article? Is there anything that we missed? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Kal Dimitrov

Kal has 10 years of experience as a marketer and lecturer in youth leader organisations, with a focus on career and job skills enhancement. He has written and edited over 100 resume creation guides for different jobs. Kal is also a co-founder of a career accelerator hub that helps students and recent graduates excel at job interviews and get the job of their dreams.

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