I would like to know whenever one needs a name for the addressee of a cover letter and one does not know whether the person is a male or female then is the only way to write the salutations is addressing as “Dear Sir/Madam.”
Is there a better way of writting this salutations?
The Career Doctor responds:
There should be very few times in your job-search correspondence that you do not know the name of the person you are writing to. For example when you are writing to a blind email or postal box.
Even if a want ad says to send the letter to the Human Resources Director it is quite easy to call the company and get the name of the director – in fact doing just that action often results in your letter and resume getting more notice because it shows initiative.
But to answer your question. On those rare times when you do not know the name or gender of the person you are writing to “sir or madam” is marginally acceptable. Better forms in my experience include: “Dear box holder” “Dear hiring manager” or “Dear friends.” While there is nothing wrong with “sir or madam” it is too stilted for modern communication.
So remember that your goal is always to try and track down the name of the individual. As a last resort use one of the above salutations. Lots more information on cover letters can be found at the Quintessential Careers Cover Letter Tutorial.