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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.

  1. 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 Similarly, Dear Sir or Madam is simply outdated.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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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!

This entry was posted in Career, Employment, Job Seeker, NJ, Uncategorized, Unemployed and tagged application, career, cover letter, employment, interview, job, resume, The Resume Chick, unemployment. Bookmark the permalink.

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.