The two best ways to address a cover letter
A basic cover letter salutation (or greeting) begins with “Dear” followed by the hiring manager’s title and last name. However, in some cases it’s better to use the hiring manager’s full name.
A cover letter salutation comes after the date and addresses. Good cover letter templates always indicate where you should place your salutation.
1. When you don’t know the hiring manager’s gender
If the hiring manager has a gender-neutral name, avoid gender-specific titles such as “Mr.” and “Ms.” in your greeting. Instead, you can either write out their first and last names in full, or use the gender-neutral pronoun “Mx.“.
- Dear Jay Winter,
- Dear Sam Jones,
- Dear Mx. Lopez,
2. When you know the hiring manager’s gender
If you’re certain of the hiring manager’s gender, you can include a title. “Mr.” is acceptable for men of any marital status, and you can address female employers as “Ms.”. Unlike “Mrs.” and “Miss,” this neutral title doesn’t denote whether they’re married.
The only time it’s acceptable to address the hiring manager with only their first name (for example, “Dear Mollie,”) is if you’re writing a cover letter for an internal position or promotion in the same company, and you already know the hiring manager.
- Dear Ms. Chang,
- Dear Ms. Dupont,
- Dear Ms. Starling,
- Dear Mr. Mulgrew,
- Dear Mr. Park,
- Dear Mr. El-Fadil,
Professional and academic titles
When addressing a cover letter to a hiring manager with a professional or academic title, include their title in your salutation. You can write out the full title or use an abbreviation. For example, “Reverend” and “Rev.” are both fine.
- Dear Rev. Taylor,
- Dear Mayor Aquino,
- Dear Dr. Zimmerman,
- Dear Principal Hansen,
- Dear Sgt. Holt,
- Dear Professor Tsai,
How to find the appropriate person to contact
If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name in the job description, make the effort to find their name elsewhere.
Addressing the hiring manager directly allows you to quickly establish a personal connection, and show you’ve done some research.
It’s worth the extra work, so use the following sources to help you find the hiring manager’s name:
- The company website: See if you can locate the hiring manager on the “About Us” or “Company Directory” page of the company’s website.
- LinkedIn: Browse the company’s LinkedIn page and use filters such as position title, location, and personal names to find out who heads the hiring team.
- Google search: A targeted Google search can help you uncover the name of the hiring manager. Simply insert the company website and relevant title into Google in the following format: site:resumegenius.com “position title”
- Contact the company: If you’re still unable to find the hiring manager’s name, call or email the company and ask for the contact person’s name (and direct email address if you don’t have it already). Explain that you’re applying for a position and you’d like to address your cover letter to someone responsible for filling the position.
How to address a cover letter without a name
Avoid using out-of-date greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” on your cover letter, because they come across as overly formal.
Alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern”
If the hiring manager’s name is nowhere to be found, it’s appropriate to use a generic salutation such as “Dear Hiring Manager.”
If you want to add a personal touch, address your cover letter to your prospective department or line manager. For instance, “Dear Customer Service Department,”.
You might also address your letter to the HR manager: “Dear Human Resources Manager,”.
Finding out who to address a cover letter to and using that information in your greeting shows that you’ve read the job description and understand the company’s structure.
Learning how to write a cover letter that wins interviews is even more important, and it all begins with an effective cover letter opening. With a little bit of effort, you’ll be able to put together job applications like a pro, and will never be far from your next job.