You’ve found the perfect job and finally sat down to write that cover letter (good for you!), but immediately you’ve run into a roadblock. How do you even start the darn thing? Should you use Mr. or Ms.? Do you include a first name? And what if you’ve searched high and low, but can’t find the hiring manager’s name?
Don’t fret! Follow these rules for cover letter salutation salvation.
Rule #1: Use a Formal Full Name Salutation
Unless you know for sure that the culture of the company is more casual, use the hiring manager’s first and last name, including a “Mr.” or “Ms.” (e.g., Mr. Jack Smith).
Most letters I see still use the “Dear” greeting, though I’ve seen a growing trend of people dropping it and starting with “Hello” or just the name. Either way works. The most important part is having the actual name. Never use “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear or Sir or Madam”—nothing could be more generic (not to mention archaic). Your cover letter could be the first opportunity you have to make an impression on the hiring manager, so make sure you show that you did your company research.
One note of caution, if you can’t decipher whether to use “Mr.” or “Ms.” based on the name and a little Google stalking (and you don’t have an easy way out with a “Dr.”), just drop the title.
Rule #2: If You Don’t Know the Hiring Manager, Guess
Sometimes, even after hours of online searching (try these tips), you still might not be able to definitively figure out who exactly the hiring manager for the position you’re applying for is—and that’s OK.
If you can only find a list of the executives of the company and you’re not completely confident who the hiring manager is, use the head of the department for the position you’re applying for. In the end, no one will fault you for addressing the letter higher up than necessary. This approach is definitely better than not using a name in your cover letter, because it still shows the time and effort you took to find out who the department head is.
...why not make it easier on yourself?
Speak to a Cover Letter Coach Today
Rule #3: Be as Specific as Possible
So, you’ve done your due diligence and after an exhaustive search—nothing. You just can’t find a single name to address your cover letter to. If that’s the case, don’t worry. The company is likely privately held with no reason to share who its employees are—and, more importantly, is aware of this.
If this is the case and you don’t have a name to use, try to still be as specific as possible in your greeting. Consider using “Senior Analyst Hiring Manager” or “Research Manager Search Committee”—something that shows that you’ve written this letter with a particular audience in mind.
Ultimately, you want your cover letter to convey your interest in the position. To start off on the right note, get the salutation right by being as specific as possible—ideally with the name of the hiring manager. Of course, that can’t always happen, but as long as the effort is clearly made, you’ll be starting your cover letter in the right place.
The hiring manager opens up your cover letter. She looks at it for half a second before kicking it to the recycle bin.
Can an address on a cover letter hurt your chance to land the interview?
You bet it can.
That manager has 100 to 300+ cover letters and resumes to read. She's already not in the best mood.
Without knowing her name, there's a whole bag of things you can do wrong, and only a few ways to do it right.
You want her to feel good about you from word #1.
This guide will show you:
- How to address a cover letter without a name.
- The #1 way to address a cover letter.
- Who to address a cover letter to (with four great tricks to learn their name).
- The top 4 cover letter address mistakes.
Here's an example cover letter made with our fast online cover letter tool. Want to write your introduction letter fast? Use our cover letter templates and build your version here.
That example of who to address a cover letter to without a name will start your relationship off right. Now let me show you several ways to do it perfectly.
How to Address a Cover Letter with No Name
Imagine you're reading emails.
Sounds fun already, right?
One starts, "Dear esteemed gentleman of high regard." To make things worse, your name is Nancy.
Can you say Nigerian scam?
Of course you won't do anything that silly in a business letter. But if you don't know how to address a cover letter without a name, you may sound almost as tin-eared.
The first and easiest way to address a cover letter without a contact?
Leave the salutation off and start with the first paragraph.
Addressing a Cover Letter with No Salutation
Agilium's commitment to employee development is well known...
Why does that work for addressing a cover letter to unknown? It avoids the chance to make things worse.
Addressing a Cover Letter with "Dear" + a Generic Title
Dear Hiring Manager,
That's another way to start an introduction right. In fact, 40% of managers prefer "Dear Hiring Manager" to any other salutation.
Is it perfect? No. But it's invisible. It lets the manager get on to the important info in your letter, like why your resume is so amazing.
For the best way to address a cover letter with no name, you'll need specifics.
I'll show you a career-saving way to do that next.
Pro Tip: Should you use "dear" in a cover letter address? It's common and accepted. If you don't like it, leave it off and just say, "Hiring Manager,".
Ready to move past the "who do you address a cover letter to" question? Need great tips and advice to write the whole thing? See our guide: "How To Write A Cover Letter [Complete Guide With Examples]"
The BEST Way to Address a Cover Letter with No Name
"This applicant clearly has a brain."
What if I gave you a button, and by pushing it, you could make the hiring manager say the words above?
If you just want to know how to address your letter without a name, the examples above will work.
To convey high competence from the beginning, use specifics. Like this:
Who to Address a Cover Letter To [The Best Way]
Address your cover letter to the hiring manager, even if the letter will go through a recruiter.
Here are five examples of how to address someone in a cover letter when you don't know their name.
- Dear Project Manager Hiring Team,
- Dear Sales Associate Hiring Manager,
- To the Customer Service Search Committee,
- To the Computer Science Recruitment Team,
- Dear Software Team Hiring Manager,
Pow. There's a switch somewhere in the hiring manager's head, and it just flipped to "Pay Attention."
Why do those examples for how to address a cover letter work?
They show you're not just scattershooting resumes from a potato gun. You actually have some idea what's going on within the company.
Pro Tip: Knowing the hiring manager's name is the best tip for addressing a cover letter. I'll show you six fantastic tricks up next.
Want to move past how to address a cover letter and on to the first paragraph? See this guide: "How to Start a Cover Letter: Sample & Complete Guide [20+ Examples]"
How to Find the Hiring Manager's Name without a Detective
You addressed your cover letter with "Dear Hiring Manager." The manager pictured a mouthbreather. She folded your resume into a little triangle and flicked it at the trash.
Well, that probably won't happen.
Still, if you're looking for how to address a cover letter in the best way possible, it's with a name.
You know that, but you're not Miss Marple. You don't have time to show the manager's picture around a bunch of coffee shops.
So, do these things:
How to Find Out Who to Address a Cover Letter To
Don't create a generic letter address until you've tried these tips to find a name:
Double check the job posting. Make absolutely sure the name's not in it. If it is and you miss it, you'll have enough egg on your face to make a double omelet.
Examine the email address in the job description. If it's email@example.com, do a Google search for "p fudderman" and "amible.com." Chances are, you'll find your manager's full name.
Check LinkedIn. Job offers on LinkedIn often identify the one who did the posting. Also, look at the company page or do a LinkedIn company search.
Check the Company Website. Try to find the head of the department on the company's staff page.
Ask friends. You can use LinkedIn to check if you've got contacts at the company. A Facebook shout-out may work too. If you're six degrees from Kevin Bacon, you're probably even closer to the hiring manager.
Call. If all else fails, call the receptionist and ask who the contact person is.
Use a Title in Your Address
If the hiring manager has a title like Dr., Professor, Reverend, or Captain, use that in place of a first name. She'll notice the respect and it'll give her a good feeling.
- Dear Dr. Steuben,
- Dear Professor Onion,
Pro Tip: Still can't find the hiring manager's name? Don't panic. Just use one of our excellent tips above for how to address a cover letter without a name.
Finished your cover letter and need to close it? See our guide: "How To End A Cover Letter [Complete Guide With Examples]"
How to Address a Cover Letter with Ms. or Mrs.
Picture a pencil.
It's full of bite marks.
You put them there because you're not sure whether to use "Miss" or "Mrs."
Is she married? Isn't she? You don't want to insult her.
Gender rules can make it hard to know who to address a cover letter to.
The good news is, "Ms." works great, and doesn't comment on marital status.
Dear Ms. Passalacqua,
Dear Miss Passalacqua
Dear Mrs. Passalacqua
Don't use "Miss" or "Mrs." unless you know the manager prefers them.
You can also use the first name, or the first and last together.
- Dear Karen Passalacqua,
- Dear Karen,
Pro Tip: Don't know the recruiter's gender? Names like Pat and Adrian can be tricky. A glance at a LinkedIn profile photo can clear up the confusion. Or use both names.
Need to know how to address a general cover letter? See this guide: How to Write a Letter of Interest [Complete Guide & 15+ Examples]
What's the Proper Cover Letter Address Format?
Visualize the ultimate success:
You got the job. You're earning a fat paycheck. Your quality of life would make Mark Zuckerberg jealous.
Is it because you used the right cover letter format?
Knowing how to address a cover letter with the proper format is just a way to sidestep looking sloppy.
But doing that will help you get the interview.
Write your name and address in the upper left.
After a line space, write the date.
After one more space, write the hiring manager's address.
Add one more space and then the salutation.
Barrett Miller, IT Professional
3367 Jewell Road
Minneapolis, MN 55415
IT Hiring Manager
341 Lodgeville Road
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Dear IT Hiring Manager,
I've been interested in Ideonix since...
How to Write a Cover Letter Email Address
Need to know how to address a cover letter when sending an electronic cover letter?
If you're formatting an email, start with a 6-10 word subject line.
Use a salutation, add a line space, then begin your letter.
Subject Line: Job Application for Nursing Position, Referred by Gregory Torres
Dear Dr. Appleton,
When Mr. Torres told me about the opening...
For emails, use that cover letter address format without the address of the company.
Pro Tip: There's a trend for modern job applicants to leave out "Dear." There's nothing wrong with doing that. It all comes down to preference.
Want to know how to format the rest of your cover letter? See this guide: "Cover Letter Formats: A Complete How-To Guide [10+ Examples]"
How NOT to Address a Cover Letter [Mistakes]
Will you sink your chance to land the interview if you don't know how to address a cover letter?
But addressing a letter incorrectly sets the wrong tone. It can make the hiring manager doubt you. And that can hurt your chances.
Avoid these addressing mistakes:
Addressing a cover letter with "Hello" or "Hi" comes off too informal. It sends a message that you don't quite grasp the rules.
The exclamation point is a bonus no-no.
Don't use "Dear Sir or Madam" when you don't know who to address a cover letter to. Not unless you're applying for a position back in 1895.
To Whom it May Concern,
Some managers (about 25%) claim they like the "To Whom it May Concern" cover letter address. The trouble is, the other 75% don't.
Dear Human Resources Director,
That last example looks fine at first. But the hiring manager might not be in HR. She might be the head of Accounting, or the company CEO.
If you know the HR director is handling the talent search, you probably know her name. Use that instead.
Pro Tip: Be rigorous with spell-checking. Nothing shows you don't know how to address a cover letter like botching the manager's name.
Writing a cover letter for an internship position? See our guide: "How to Write a Cover Letter For an Internship [+20 Examples]"
Knowing how to address a cover letter is the first step to starting off on the right foot.
The best tip when you don't know who to address a cover letter to? Learn the name. LinkedIn, Google, and the company receptionist can help.
To address a cover letter without a name, use some variation of, "Dear Software Team Hiring Manager." You can also use, "Dear Hiring Manager" if the addressee really is unknown.
Use titles like Dr., Professor, Captain, Reverend, Ms., or Mr. when you can.
Want to know more about how to address a cover letter? Maybe you found the best way to address a cover letter? Give us a shout in the comments! We love to help!