Getting the Name of Person to Address in Cover Letter

Francis writes:
I have been scouring the Internet for some guidance concerning cover letters when responding to ads for jobs from web sites like Monster Yahoo Hot Jobs etc. The current thinking is that you should always respond with the name of a person. If this is the case no one seems to advocate not applying for a job using one of the above sources to submit a resume since many times there is no name given.
My experience is limited in calling to find out who to send the resume to. One time I called and was told “we don’t give out names” when I asked for a contact.
Would you tell me why this is so? Is it because it could be financial suicide if this type of advice were given?
Thanks for your time. I have found you web site very helpful.


The Career Doctor responds:
There are critical differences between traditional job-hunting and job-hunting on the Web — and you’ve discovered a big one. An emailed cover letter while having the same job-search function is quite different than a traditional cover letter. An emailed cover letter needs to be shorter and more concise needs to grab the attention of the reader more quickly and needs to focus on keywords.
An emailed cover letter is generally no more than three paragraphs. The first paragraph identify the key benefits you can offer the employer — in a dynamic and inviting style. The second paragraph provides the details that support the benefits you mention in the first paragraph. The third paragraph must close the deal by asking for the interview.
You should still try and identify the hiring manager for the position if it is not listed in the job posting. Contacting the company and asking for the name of the hiring manager will work for many organizations but some may have privacy policies — or concerns about getting deluged with responses. Alternative solutions include “Dear Hiring Manager” or skipping the salutation completely and just starting the letter with “Re: Job Posting XX7783Y.”
You can get much more tips and advice about writing email cover letters by reading my article Tips for a Dynamic Email Cover Letter.
See also our new white paper Cover Letter Reboot: A Crowdsourced Update of Traditional Cover-letter Advice for Today’s Job Search which you can download here.

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