Making a great first impression is imperative to becoming the #1 candidate for the job. The first impression, as we found out in our previous articles, comes from the cover letter. An appropriate salutation secures the right tone for the rest of your cover letter and wins the recipient’s favor.
By directing your cover letter to a specific person you simulate a dialog, a conversation, where you’ve been yielded the floor. Stop cranking out templatized impersonal covering letters — they end up in the discard pile!
In this article, we’ve drawn up an explicit guide on “how to” and “who to” for addressing a cover letter when applying for a job opening.
Addressing a Cover Letter: Why is it Important?
Imagine you’re a hiring manager. It’s an average day at work — your company is looking for a Sales Manager. You brew your daily cup of strong coffee and check your inbox. The inbox displays 200+ incoming emails from applicants for the job opening.
You open one email and it reads
The first idea in your head will probably be something like:
“Another cliched cover letter. I bet this applicant’s been sending this cover letter to dozens of companies. I’ll leave it for the end.
You open the next one and it starts
Easy, easy! My name is Rachel, I’ll have you know!
You’re not in the best mood already, right? Would you give a chance to an applicant who calls you “Sir”? Bet you won’t.
To make things worse, these examples are real-life cases. You can ask hiring managers and recruiters from different companies and they all will say that they read letters like this time and time again. Moreover, they will definitely tell you even more ridiculous stories from their experience.
Let’s move to our article and consider the best options for addressing a cover letter for a job and the mistakes to avoid.
Options for Addressing a Cover Letter
Our experts strongly suggest that job seekers address their cover letters using the recruiting manager’s name. Now, this is not always possible for various reasons, so what’s the next best thing? We’ll show you how to address a cover letter for an online application the right way in any situation.
Use the Hiring Manager’s Name
Always make the effort to find who to address cover letter to.
How do you find the info?
Reread the posting; their name might be lurking at the very bottom.
For example, you find the email email@example.com.
Google for “m griffith xyz inc”.
You can say something like:
“Hello, my name is Theodore. I’m applying for the content writer position at your company. Do you by any chance know the name of the hiring manager responsible for the position? It would be much appreciated.”
You might think that this is a waste of time, but going out of your way to find the recruiter’s name really shows that you put in the effort to apply and have a genuine interest in working there.
Use the Recipient’s Title In Your Address
If you find out that the hiring executive has a professional or academic title like Captain, Professor, Doctor, etc., use it in place of their first name. This approach shows your respect for the recipient.
Dear Dr. House,
Dear Maj. Payne,
Dear Prof. Hulk,
How to Address a Cover Letter When No Name is Available
Although finding the name of the hiring manager is always preferred, it’s not always possible. What should you do in these occasions? HR professionals have answered this question for you. In a recent study done by Saddleback College, which surveyed 2,000 hiring managers, the majority of the polled specialists liked to see “Dear Hiring Manager” if the name is unknown.
Starting your cover letter, write the role you’re applying for and “Hiring Manager” in the recipient info section.
Hiring Manager for the Engineer PositionThis shows that you put in the time to mention the exact position you’re targeting. This also tells the hiring manager exactly which position you’re applying for and if needed, they can forward it to the right person. You wouldn’t write “Dear hiring manager for the engineer position” as your salutation, of course. Write “Dear Hiring Manager” as your greeting.
From: John Doe
11301 West Olympic Boulevard Apt. 100
Los Angeles, CA 90064
To: Hiring Manager for the Engineer Position
XYZ Worldwide Inc.
28 Second Avenue, NY
Dear Hiring Manager,
I’m writing to you to express my interest in the Engineer position that
is open on your company website with the job ID #10120.
Another “okay” way of addressing a cover letter to a company is to use the generic “Dear Recruiting Department,” or “Dear [Company] Recruitment Team,”.
How to Address a Cover Letter to a Person with a Gender-Neutral Name
What should you do when you have the name of the hiring manager but aren’t sure of the person’s gender? The answer is simple — include both the first name and the last name in your greeting.
- Dear Taylor Johnson,
- Dear Cory Morgan,
Mistakes to Avoid When Addressing a Cover Letter
Oftentimes, candidates write cover letters half-heartedly and make silly mistakes.
You would probably assume that the majority of applicants mishandling cover letters are students because of the lack of experience, but it’s not a matter of experience. It’s a matter of underestimation. Inexperienced internal students sometimes write their applications for an internship much better and more professional than overqualified workers with a vast experience handle their cover letters for a job at a big company. It all depends on how the candidate celebrates this document and realizes the impact of a well-thought-out cover letter.
And don’t you dare to even think of sending the same depersonalized cover letter for employment to multiple recipients at a time.
What's the Proper Format for a Cover Letter Address?
Get Cover Letter expert writers suggest using a traditional business letter format when writing a cover letter for employment. Keep in mind, that while the business style cover letter rules and requirements are pretty strict, there is still room for a free hand and individual approach.Sender
Start with a header that includes the sender’s name, address, and contact info. Add date above or below the sender’s section.
Skip 1 line after the sender section.
The recipient’s info section includes the recruiting manager's name, official title and company name, full address, including city, state and zip code, and phone number.
Skip 1 line after the recipient section.
Write an appropriate salutation: “Dear Mr. Doe,”, “Dear Cpt. Donovan,”, “Dear Hiring Manager,”. Don’t forget a comma after your greeting and leave 1-2 blank lines before you get down to writing the introduction.Introductory paragraph
Introduce yourself and get straight to the point of your job application.
From: [Your Full Name]
[Street, City, State, Zip]
To: [Recipient’s Full Name]
[Recipient’s Company Name]
[Street, City, State, Zip]
Body: Qualifications, Interests, Background, Sales Pitch
Farewell words e.g. Best Regards,
[Your Full Name]
Want to know what to write in the rest of your cover letter? See our “Complete Guide To Writing an Impressive Cover Letter That Gets You Hired”
Now you know how to address a cover letter to a company in any situation you face during your job search. Follow the rules and recommendations from our professional guide and craft outstanding cover letters. If you have specific questions about how to address someone in a cover letter, feel free to contact us for some extra tips and advice.
Still doubting yourself or unsure and can’t get past writer's block? We’re here for you.
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