To Address A Cover Letter

Cover Letter Salutation Examples

Get Formatting and Punctuation Tips

What is a cover letter salutation? A salutation is the greeting you include at the beginning of a cover letter written to apply for a job. In your salutation, you will set the tone for your letter, which should be professional and appropriate. Avoid casual salutations (“Hey There” or “Hi” or “Hello”) in your job search correspondence.

How to Write a Cover Letter Salutation

When you're writing a cover letter or sending an email message to apply for a job, it's important to include an appropriate salutation at the beginning of the cover letter or message.

Standard business correspondence formatting requires that, after providing your own contact information and the date of your letter, you then write down your contact person’s name, the company’s name, and the company’s address.

The formal salutation / greeting comes next: “Dear [Contact Person’s name].” If you have a contact person for your letter, be sure to include their personal title and name in the salutation (i.e. "Dear Mr. Franklin"). If you are unsure of the reader's gender, simply state their full name and avoid the personal title (i.e. "Dear Jamie Smith"). Leave one blank line after the salutation.

You should always make every effort to find a contact name to use in your letter. It leaves a good impression on the hiring manager if you have taken the time to use their name, especially if you needed to work a little to find it.

If this information was not provided in the job announcement and you cannot find it on the company’s web site, then it is a good idea to call the company, ask to be forwarded to their Human Resources department (if they have one), explain that you will be applying for a job there, and ask for the name of their hiring manager.

When you can't find a contact person or if you are unsure of who will be reading your cover letter, you can use a generic salutation (i.e. “Dear Hiring Manager”).

When You Have a Contact Person

The following is a list of letter salutation examples that are appropriate for cover letters and other employment-related correspondence when you have the name of a contact.

  • Dear Mr. Jones

  • Dear Ms. Brown

  • Dear Riley Doe

  • Dear Dr. Haven

  • Dear Professor Lawrence

Punctuation

Follow the salutation with a colon or comma, and then start the first paragraph of your letter on the following line. For example:

Dear Mr. Smith:

First paragraph of letter.

When You Don't Have a Contact Person

Many companies don't list a contact person when they post jobs, because they have a team of hiring staff who sort through cover letters and resumes before passing them to the hiring manager for the appropriate department.

They prefer to leave the hiring manager anonymous until he or she contacts you for an interview.

An organization may also not want to disclose who the hiring manger is to avoid emails and phone calls from applicants, particularly if they anticipate receiving a large number of applications from potential job candidates. So, don't worry if you can't find someone to address your letter to. It will be forwarded to the correct department and recipient.

If you don't have a contact person at the company, either leave off the salutation from your cover letter and start with the first paragraph of your letter or, better yet, use a general salutation. When using a general salutation, capitalize the nouns.

Examples of General Salutations

Punctuation

Follow the salutation with a colon or comma before beginning your first paragraph on the following line. For example:

Dear XYZ Enterprises Recruiter,

First paragraph of letter.

Posted on by Jon Shields

When it comes to addressing a cover letter, advice columns frequently spotlight these two pitfalls:

  • Mistake 1: Failing to address your cover letter to a specific person
  • Mistake 2: Addressing a cover letter to the wrong person

Most job postings don’t specify who will be reading your cover letter. This puts job seekers in a tricky situation. Fixing the first mistake could cause you to make the second. So what’s the best way to replace “To Whom It May Concern” atop your cover letter?

Here are 4 top tips for figuring out who to address your cover letter to:

1) Don’t Address the Recruiter

For many job openings, the first person you need to impress is a corporate recruiter. That doesn’t mean you should address your cover letter to them.

“Recruiters do not read cover letters,” a long-time healthcare recruiter told Jobscan. “Bottom line.”

That might be an overstatement — most don’t, some do — but many recruiters would admit that they aren’t the intended audience of a cover letter. “It’s mostly for the hiring manager,” said a recruiter in the non-profit industry. “For us [recruiters], it’s just an extra step in an already elongated process.”

The healthcare recruiter agreed: “If you’re sending it straight to a hiring manager who’s looking at a much lower number of applicants looking in, they might actually read that.”

In order for your cover letter to make an impact with a hiring manager, it’s up to your resume to get past a recruiter and the tracking system they use to rank and filter applicants. Try analyzing your resume against the job description below to receive instant optimization tips and recruiter insights so that the time you spent crafting your cover letter isn’t in vain.

2) Search the Company Website and LinkedIn

Few job postings list the hiring manager by name but many will tell you the position to which you’d be reporting.

With this information, a little detective work can reveal the name of the hiring manager.

How to Search for a Hiring Manager’s Name on a Company Website

Start off by browsing the company’s website. Look for an about page, company directory, or contact page. These pages are frequently linked at the very bottom of the website. Companies that feature employees on their about page make it much easier to figure out who will be reading your cover letter.

You can also try searching the website. If the website doesn’t have a built in search bar, use this syntax in Google:

“[position you’ll be reporting to]” site:company website

This will reveal hard-to-find about pages or other mentions of the position in the company’s blog posts, press releases, and other pages.

How to Search for a Hiring Manager on LinkedIn

If a company doesn’t list the hiring manager on their website, LinkedIn is your next best resource.

Start off by searching for the company page on LinkedIn. Once you’re on the company’s LinkedIn page, click “See all X employees on LinkedIn” near the top.

Depending on the company size, you can either browse all positions or narrow your results by adding search terms to the search bar (e.g. “Marketing Manager”) and utilizing the “Current companies” filters on the right side of the screen.

Search for the “reports to” position from the job listing. If it wasn’t provided in the listing, search for keywords related to your prospective department (e.g. “marketing”). If the company uses an intuitive corporate hierarchy you should be able to determine who will be reading the cover letter.

3) Contact the Company Directly

There is nothing wrong with calling or emailing the company to ask for the name of the hiring manager. Be polite and honest with the administrative assistant or customer service representative. Explain that you’re about to apply for a job and you’d like to know who you should address in your cover letter.

If they aren’t able to provide an answer or transfer you to someone who knows, let it go. The last thing you need is word getting back to the hiring manager that you were pushy with one of their colleagues.

4) If you still can’t figure out the name of the hiring manager…

If your investigation doesn’t yield any results, to whom should you address your cover letter?

Aim High When Addressing a Cover Letter

You don’t want to address your cover letter to the wrong person, but if you do, it’s better to guess high than low. If you are only able to track down a list of executives, Lily Zhang of The Muse suggests that addressing a cover letter to a high-level department head is still in your best interest. “In the end, no one will fault you for addressing the letter higher up than necessary,” she writes. “This approach is definitely better than not using a name in your cover letter because it still shows the time and effort you took to find out who the department head is.”

“To Whom it May Concern” Alternatives

Using “To Whom it May Concern” is considered outdated and overly formal in many hiring circles. It also does nothing to help you stand out as it’s the go-to salutation most applicants use when addressing a cover letter to an unknown recipient.

If you know the position you’d be reporting to, use that. At very least, “Dear Customer Experience Manager” shows that you carefully read the job posting.

“Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Team” are a couple generic alternatives that are a little less stuffy than “To Whom it May Concern.” You can also address your letter to the appropriate department, for example “To the Design Department” or “Dear Engineering Department.”

 

As with many aspects of the job application process, demonstrating that you put in some extra effort can make a difference. Doing some research before addressing a cover letter contributes to a positive first impression.

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