You’ve found the perfect job and finally sat down to write that cover letter (good for you!), but immediately you’ve run into a roadblock. How do you even start the darn thing? Should you use Mr. or Ms.? Do you include a first name? And what if you’ve searched high and low, but can’t find the hiring manager’s name?
Don’t fret! Follow these rules for cover letter salutation salvation.
Rule #1: Use a Formal Full Name Salutation
Unless you know for sure that the culture of the company is more casual, use the hiring manager’s first and last name, including a “Mr.” or “Ms.” (e.g., Mr. Jack Smith).
Most letters I see still use the “Dear” greeting, though I’ve seen a growing trend of people dropping it and starting with “Hello” or just the name. Either way works. The most important part is having the actual name. Never use “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear or Sir or Madam”—nothing could be more generic (not to mention archaic). Your cover letter could be the first opportunity you have to make an impression on the hiring manager, so make sure you show that you did your company research.
One note of caution, if you can’t decipher whether to use “Mr.” or “Ms.” based on the name and a little Google stalking (and you don’t have an easy way out with a “Dr.”), just drop the title.
Rule #2: If You Don’t Know the Hiring Manager, Guess
Sometimes, even after hours of online searching (try these tips), you still might not be able to definitively figure out who exactly the hiring manager for the position you’re applying for is—and that’s OK.
If you can only find a list of the executives of the company and you’re not completely confident who the hiring manager is, use the head of the department for the position you’re applying for. In the end, no one will fault you for addressing the letter higher up than necessary. 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.
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Rule #3: Be as Specific as Possible
So, you’ve done your due diligence and after an exhaustive search—nothing. You just can’t find a single name to address your cover letter to. If that’s the case, don’t worry. The company is likely privately held with no reason to share who its employees are—and, more importantly, is aware of this.
If this is the case and you don’t have a name to use, try to still be as specific as possible in your greeting. Consider using “Senior Analyst Hiring Manager” or “Research Manager Search Committee”—something that shows that you’ve written this letter with a particular audience in mind.
Ultimately, you want your cover letter to convey your interest in the position. To start off on the right note, get the salutation right by being as specific as possible—ideally with the name of the hiring manager. Of course, that can’t always happen, but as long as the effort is clearly made, you’ll be starting your cover letter in the right place.
How to Properly Address the Recipient on Your Cover Letter
Posted onSeptember 22, 2010byKatie DeVito
By: The Resume Chick
Cover letters for resumes are extremely important, especially how you address the recipient. Remember that you are writing someone who is supposed to interview you and may hold the decision on whether to call you in or not.
- Specify the name of the recipient. Don’t ever use To whom it may concern. Similarly, Dear Sir or Madam is simply outdated. Do your homework and identify the specific person to whom you should address the letter. This gives an impression that you exerted a big effort to get your facts right, and project an image that you are willing to go the extra mile. That alone is a very big plus.
- Indicate the appropriate designation of the addressee. It’s smart to also write down the specific designation of the person you are writing to. This shows you persevered enough to get more information and you’re eager to know more about your prospective interviewer/employer.
- Address the recipient properly. Use Sir/Miss/Madam/Hon./His Excellency or any other appropriate title when you address the recipient. Some recipients are very sensitive about that. Cover letters should appear as professional and as courteous as possible. Write the person’s whole name. A word of caution though; some recipients have names that are not gender-specific. You wouldn’t want to call someone Mr. when they are a Ms., nor do you want to call someone Mrs. when they are a Ms. If you are not sure, a quick phone to the company call can eliminate all doubt.
- Address a group of individuals. In spite of your valiant efforts, if you cannot find a direct contact or the specific name of your recipeint, you can try a safe salutation such as Dear Human Resources, or Dear Hiring Committee.
Remember, you want to create a good first impression. A little effort on your cover letter might just lead you to the sweet smell of success (getting interviewed, that is…or better still, getting hired!). Always bear in mind that the one reading your cover letter might just be your next boss, and the way you address him /her in your letter is the key that can open doors for you.
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About the Author:
Over the past 10 years, Karen has assisted thousands of job seekers by providing them with a resume that brought them the confidence and professionalism they needed to get an interview. After writing for several years, Karen recognized the need for something different. Utilizing a creative edge, she helps make job hunting easier with her company, TheResumeChick.com, as an affordable way to get top notch, custom resumes in a jiffy. Her clients have raved about their new competitive edge, more interviews and better job offers and salary increases thanks to her handiwork. Karen welcomes any inquiries for interviews and career assistance opportunities where she can lend her voice on the how-to’s on writing a resume that works and getting the interview.
You can get more tips from her blog or simply follow her amusing factoids, discussions and articles on her Twitter. Don’t be fooled by impostor Chicks! And for goodness sake, when a groovy resume is what you want… Resume Chick-It!
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