Using a formal full name salutation to the hiring manager or recruiter is the best way to address a cover letter, but what do you do if you just can't find a name? You don't want to look like you didn't do your homework, and you also don't want to create a cover letter that sounds too informal.
Follow the methods below for addressing a cover letter when you don't have the name of the hiring manager. And get help writing the opening, body and closing paragraphs of your cover letter by using our Cover Letter Builder.
How to address a cover letter without a recipient name: 3 tips
1. Do your research
How you address a cover letter can be challenging, especially if you don't have a contact name or you don't know whether the person is male or female.
A personalized salutation helps differentiate you from other candidates, which is the main goal of your cover letter.
For this reason, it's important to at least try to find a name or department listing.
Start your search with Google. Go to the company website and do a quick human resources search. Many times, this alone will net you the hiring manager's name and email address.
LinkedIn and Twitter are also excellent places to search. Search first for the company and see if there's a list of employees. If not, look for human resources employees following the page.
2. Check the job description
Reread the job description to figure out who the hiring manager is. You may find a name and email address you missed the first time. If the listing includes an email without a name, search Google for the email address.
Jobs posted on LinkedIn often show the name of the individual creating the ad. Even if it isn't the individual who's doing the hiring, they are likely involved in the process.
Check the job posting to see who you will be reporting to. If it states you will answer to the head of IT, run an advanced search on LinkedIn for any current IT managers to see what you come up with.
As a last resort, there's nothing wrong with contacting the company by phone or email and ask the name of the hiring manager. Be professional and explain why you need the information. Tell the individual you're about to apply for a position and need to know to whom to address the cover letter.
There's nothing wrong with contacting the company by phone or email and ask the name of the hiring manager. Be professional and explain why you need the information. Tell the individual you're about to apply for a position and need to know to whom to address the cover letter.
3. Use an alternative greeting
After searching, if you still come up empty-handed, it's time to consider a few alternative ways to address. But how do you address a cover letter when you don't know who it is going to?
- Be as specific as possible. This means customizing your letter to the audience rather than an individual. For example, if you're applying for a Senior Analyst position, address the letter to the Senior Analyst Hiring Manager. If you are searching for a job in accounting, address the letter to the Chief Financial Officer.
- Gather a list of executives. It's ok to aim high. It's better to address a cover letter to a higher-up individual than to address it with a generic opening. It still shows you took time and effort to locate someone within the company.
- Address your letter to "Dear Hiring Manager." This works as a last resort, as will the salutation "Dear Hiring Team." Reserve these greetings for when you have no idea who the recipient of the letter will be.
Whatever you do, don't skip writing a cover letter just because you can't find the name of the right person. Writing a cover letter, regardless of how it is addressed, still puts you a step ahead of the 45 percent of job seekers who skip writing one altogether.
How not to address a cover letter
- When writing your cover letter, avoid addressing the letter generically. Even when you don't know the recipient of the letter, "To Whom It May Concern" is considered outdated and too formal in most hiring circles. It also doesn't help you stand out against a sea of other applicants because it's generally the go-to salutation for those who haven't done their research before deciding to apply.
- "Dear Sir or Madam" may seem like a logical way to address because you're covering your bases in terms of gender, but this is also too formal and impersonal. It likely won't fit the company culture of a small start-up, and even for a large traditional corporation, a non-customized greeting can be a turnoff.
When you address a cover letter, consider how you would want it to read if you were the one receiving it. A personalized letter leaves a professional impression on the reader.