You finally found the job that you want to pursue and think is a good fit for your skills. You sit down to write your cover letter to go with your resume. But before you can even start writing your cover letter, you’re faced with a major roadblock: how do you address a cover letter?
This is one of the simplest yet most challenging parts of writing your cover letter, but unless you figure it out, you can stall and waste time on this step. There are instances when you simply cannot find the hiring manager’s name based on the job listing you saw online. What do you do when this happens?
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3 Rules on How to Address a Cover Letter
If you are not sure about the proper way to address a cover letter, it is better to err on the safe side. You can observe three basic rules to help you find out the best approach to use.
Rule No.1: Address the person’s full name when making salutations.
It is best to use a formal salutation when you address a hiring manager in your cover letter. This is the safest approach when you are not sure about the company culture yet. Using a casual approach can put off the hiring manager and leave a negative impression on your application.
By taking a formal approach, you can set a professional tone for the rest of your cover letter. You can start by writing “Mr.” or “Ms.” along with the hiring manager’s name (first and last).
In terms of opening the letter, a lot of job seekers use “Dear” while others prefer to open with “Hello”. You can use either of these for your cover letter. Whichever of the two you use, make sure to include the name when you are addressing them.
At all costs, you must avoid using “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”. There is no better way to tell the hiring manager that you are too lazy to care or bother searching to use these options of addressing them in your cover letter. You don’t want to leave that kind of impression!
Since your cover letter is your first chance to address the hiring manager, you want to stand out in a good way – not for using a generic tone.
Rule No. 2: Address the head of the department if you cannot determine the hiring manager.
In the event that you are unable to locate the name of the hiring manager, you can do some research instead. Check out the company website and look at the list of executives and department heads. Check the head for the department of the position you are applying for. Address them in your cover letter.
The best case scenario is they will refer you to the hiring manager so your application can be considered. As long as you take a professional approach, you will not be considered at fault for addressing your application to the head of the department. It will be more professional as compared to not addressing your cover letter with a name.
You can even show the company and its leaders that you were diligent enough to do the research and gather the information prior to sending your cover letter.
Rule No.3: When all else fails, address the hiring manager.
If you have done your research of the company’s website and elsewhere on the web but unable to find information about the company and its staff,
Examples on How to Address a Cover Letter
Still confused about how to address a cover letter? Here are a few examples that you can check to help you out in writing your cover letter.
Example 1: When you know the hiring manager’s name
Dear Jamie Smith
Dear Ms. Johnson
Dear Mr. Smith
Note: It is important to use ‘Mr’ and ‘Ms’ when addressing your cover letter. Avoid using ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’ (even if you know that the hiring manager is married) so as to avoid confusion with their marital status.
Never ever use ‘Hey’ or ‘Hi’ as a greeting as it is too informal for this type of document.
Example 2: When the contact person has a professional or academic title
It is important to recognize the contact person’s professional title in your cover letter. Therefore, you can address them in the following format:
Dear Prof. Aldridge
Dear Dr. Brown
Example 3: When you don’t know the hiring manager’s name
This is the most challenging one to work with because you don’t want to end up with a generic salutation. But if you are unable to find a name to address, any of the following examples will do:
Dear Hiring Manager
Dear Human Resources Director
Dear [Department] Head
To the Sales Associate Hiring Manager
To the Project Manager Hiring Team
Note: Avoid using impersonal salutations such as “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”.
How to Find Out Who You Must Address
Most tips on how to address a cover letter put emphasis on the importance of putting a name. This would be the ideal situation. However, there are certain job listings that do not make that information readily available. So, how do you find out who to address?
The first thing you need to do is to examine the job listing again. Double check if the name of the hiring manager is there.
If not, find out if there is an email address mentioned in the job listing. If there is one, check the email address domain. There is a chance that the email address domain is the same as the company’s website. Go to their website and look for any mention of that same email address within the website and the full name of the person associated with it (you can usually find this information in the About Us page).
Another place you can check out is LinkedIn. If the job posting was made on LinkedIn, you will usually be able to identify who published the post. You can check basic information in their LinkedIn profile such as the full name and position within the company.
When all of these fail, you can always use their contact information and call the company directly. Ask for the contact person so you know who to address in your cover letter.