How to Address a Cover Letter

Don't know how to address your cover letter in the most respectful and appropriate way? See the best tips on what business etiquette dictates and how to get points as a good candidate.

Don't know how to address your cover letter in the most respectful and appropriate way? See the best tips on what business etiquette dictates and how to get points as a good candidate.

How to Address a Cover Letter Addressing a Cover Letter: Why is it Important? Options for Addressing a Cover Letter How to Address a Cover Letter When No Name is Available How to Address a Cover Letter to a Person with a Gender-Neutral Name Mistakes to Avoid When Addressing a Cover Letter What's the Proper Cover Letter Address Format? Conclusion
How to Address a Cover Letter Addressing a Cover Letter: Why is it Important? Options for Addressing a Cover Letter How to Address a Cover Letter When No Name is Available How to Address a Cover Letter to a Person with a Gender-Neutral Name Mistakes to Avoid When Addressing a Cover Letter What's the Proper Cover Letter Address Format? Conclusion
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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.

Buckle up!

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

“To whom it may concern, I am writing to apply for the Sales Manager role at your firm…”

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

“Dear Sir, I am excited to…”

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.

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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?

01Check the job posting and see if there is a name listed.
Reread the posting; their name might be lurking at the very bottom.
02Examine the email address in the job description.
For example, you find the email mgriffith@xyzinc.com.
Google for “m griffith xyz inc”.
03Check Linkedin.com. Search for the company page or the specific job posting. Proceed to the author’s personal LinkedIn profile and search for the needed contact information.
04Check the company’s official website. The information you need might be available in the “About us”, “Contacts”, or “Our Team” sections.
05Make a phone call. If you can’t find the name, then get on the phone, call the HR department and ask someone there who the right contact is.

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 have the name of the hiring executive and are 100% certain of their gender, use “Mr.” for men and “Ms.” for women. “Ms.” does not denote the marital status of the recipient and works great for any female employer.
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.

Examples:

Dear Dr. House,
Dear Maj. Payne,
Dear Prof. Hulk,

It’s acceptable to use either the full title or an abbreviation.

We want to make you shine and land that dream job. So what are you waiting for?

Create a cover letter
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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.

Example:

Hiring Manager for the Engineer Position

This 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.

Example:

From: John Doe

01.01.2019

11301 West Olympic Boulevard Apt. 100

Los Angeles, CA 90064

(212) 245-7154

johndoe@email.com

To: Hiring Manager for the Engineer Position

XYZ Worldwide Inc.

28 Second Avenue, NY

(212) 244-7701

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.

Also, you can address your letter to your prospective department. For example, “Dear Engineering Department,”. Although this is not the best option for addressing a cover letter, it demonstrates that you’ve read the posting carefully and understand the company’s organization structure.
Another “okay” way of addressing a cover letter to a company is to use the generic “Dear Recruiting Department,” or “Dear [Company] Recruitment Team,”.
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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.

Examples:

- 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.

Let’s discuss the most “popular” mistakes that job applicants keep making again and again:
1. Sending an impersonal cookie-cutter letter to whom it may concern
Believe it or not, impersonal cover letters drag your resume (even if it is perfect) down the list of candidates. Remember: the first person that your cover letter concerns is you. Please don’t use this boring and outdated phrase. It makes your cover letter look like it wasn’t tailored for that position, rather one you blindly send to any opening. Put in the time and effort to customize your cover letter if you really want to get noticed by a recruiter.
And don’t you dare to even think of sending the same depersonalized cover letter for employment to multiple recipients at a time.
2. Addressing your cover letter to the wrong person
Addressing a cover letter to a recruiter not responsible for your prospective department can really irritate them and result in a fair rejection. Be sure to double check
3. Writing “Hi” or “Hello”
This is just unprofessional and too informal. Also, “Hi” is even considered slang. Save the “Hi” for your friends and refrain from using it in your cover letter.
4. Leaving it Blank
You should never leave it blank. As we mentioned above, if you can’t find the name, consider addressing a cover letter to HR by using the position title and “hiring manager” or just “Dear Hiring Manager”.
5. “Dear Sir or Madam”
We strongly suggest not to use “Dear Sir or Madam” when addressing a cover letter to an unknown person.
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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.

Recipient

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.

Salutation

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]

[Date]

[Street, City, State, Zip]

[Phone Number]

[Email]

To: [Recipient’s Full Name]

[Recipient’s Company Name]

[Street, City, State, Zip]

[Recipient’s Phone]

[Recipient’s Email]

Dear [Recipient],

First/Introductory Paragraph

Body: Qualifications, Interests, Background, Sales Pitch

Closing paragraph

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”

Don’t let your dream job slip through your fingers. Let’s snag it now!

Build Cover Letter
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Conclusion

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.
Our company has been providing professional CV and cover letter writing services for thousands of clients from the US and overseas. As of today, over 130,000 cover letters have been successfully built with the help of our online service; thousands of our clients have landed jobs. We are here to assist with your career ambitions and help you land your dream job. Don’t miss a chance to become one of those delighted people!