Your cover letter is more likely to land in the right place when it is addressed to the reader. Unfortunately, many job postings do not include a contact name. When this information is missing, you can use available resources to learn the name of the person responsible for the hiring process. If your search is unsuccessful, there are other effective methods of addressing a blind cover letter. The salutation may be different, but the content follows the standard format for cover letters.
1. Search for a contact name with any information you have. For instance, check the job posting for the company’s name and number, then call and ask for the name of the hiring manager. If the call is unsuccessful, use professional-networking websites, such as LinkedIn and Ryze, to connect with someone who works in the company’s human-resources department.
2. Type your name and contact information at the top of the letter or at the top left corner of the page. Provide the date on the left side of the page, one space beneath your contact information.
3. Leave a blank line beneath the date and type the contact’s name. If you were unable to learn the name, use a general title such as “Hiring Manager,” “Recruiting Representative” or “Human Resources Department.” Provide the company’s address under the name or title.
4. Begin the body of the letter with a salutation to the contact. If you don’t have a name, use a greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager,” “Dear Recruiting Representative” or “Dear Human Resources Team.”
5. Follow the standard format for the body of your cover letter. In the first paragraph, state the position you are interested in, how you heard about it and why you qualify; briefly highlight relevant key accomplishments in the second paragraph; and indicate how and when you plan to follow up in the last paragraph.
6. End the letter with a closing statement such as “Sincerely” or “Regards.” Leave a blank space beneath the statement for your signature then type your name.
- Gender-specific salutations such as “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” display a lack of creativity and could be offensive if the greeting is not appropriate for the reader.
About the Author
Tina Amo has been writing business-related content since 2006. Her articles appear on various well-known websites. Amo holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in information systems.
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How to Address a Cover Letter
Addressing a cover letter can be tricky if you are responding to a job listing and either don’t have a contact person’s name or don't know the hiring manager's gender.
First of all, take the time to try and find out the name and gender of the contact person. Some employers will think poorly of an applicant who does not take the time to find out the hiring manager’s name.
However, if you do some research and are still not sure to whom you are addressing your letter, it's better to be safe and use a generic greeting or none at all.
It's acceptable to start a letter without a greeting.
Read below for advice on how to address a cover letter, and example salutations.
Options for Addressing a Cover Letter
When you're not sure to whom to address your cover letters, you have a few options.
The first is to find out the name of the person you are contacting. If the name is not included on the job listing, you might look up the title of the employer or hiring manager on the company website. If there is a contact number, you might also call and ask an administrative assistant for the name of the hiring manager.
If you cannot discover the name of the contact person at the company, you can either leave off the salutation from your cover letter and start with the first paragraph of your letter, or use a general salutation.
Tips for Using a General Salutation
There a variety of general cover letter salutations you can use to address your letter.
These general cover letter salutations do not require you to know the name of the hiring manager.
In a survey of more than 2,000 companies, Saddleback College found that employers preferred the following greetings:
- Dear Hiring Manager (40%)
- To Whom It May Concern (27%)
- Dear Sir/Madam (17%)
- Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
How to Address a Cover Letter for a Non Gender-Specific Name
If you do have a name but aren't sure of the person's gender, one option is to include both the first name and the last name in your salutation, without any sort of title that reveals gender:
- Dear Sydney Doe
- Dear Taylor Smith
With these types of gender-ambiguous names, LinkedIn can be a helpful resource. Since many people include a photo with their profile, a simple search of the person's name and company within LinkedIn could potentially turn up the contact's photograph.
Again, you can also check the company website or call the company’s administrative assistant to get more information as well.
What Title to Use
Even if you know the name and gender of the person to whom you are writing, think carefully about what title you will use in your salutation. For example, if the person is a doctor or holds a Ph.D., you might want to address your letter to “Dr. Lastname” rather than “Ms. Lastname” or “Mr. Lastname.” Other titles might be “Prof.,” “Rev.,” or “Sgt.,” among others.
Also, when you address a letter to a female employer, use the title “Ms.” unless you know for certain that she prefers another title (such as Miss or Mrs.).
“Ms.” is a general title that does not denote marital status, so it works for any female employer.
How to Format a Salutation
Once you have chosen a salutation, follow it with a colon or comma, a space, and then start the first paragraph of your letter. For example:
Dear Hiring Manager:
First paragraph of letter.
Spell Check Names
Finally, before sending your cover letter, make absolutely sure that you have spelled the hiring manager’s name correctly. That is the kind of small error that can cost you a job interview.
Cover Letter Examples
Here are examples of cover letters addressed to a hiring manager, cover letters with a contact person, and more samples to review.
How to Write a Cover Letter
This guide to writing cover letters has information on what to include in your cover letter, how to write a cover letter, cover letter format, targeted cover letters, and cover letter samples.