While addressing your cover letter may seem like a small part of your job application, your salutation may be the first thing an employer reads on your application. An appropriate opening can leave a good first impression and set the tone for a successful application that engages the interest of an employer. This article explains how to address a cover letter depending on the information available to you about the job you are applying for.
Who should you address a cover letter to?
While you may not be certain who will read your cover letter when applying for jobs, there are a few best practices for addressing a cover letter. Unless a job description includes information on a different person to send application materials to, you should address your cover letter to the hiring manager for the position. ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ is an appropriate greeting for situations when you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, but seeking out details about the team you would be working with shows that you have a strong interest in the company and pay attention to details.
Methods for finding the hiring manager’s name
The following methods can help you find the hiring manager’s name when applying for a new job:
Check the application materials
Sometimes a job posting or other application materials have the name and title of the person reviewing your application listed. Many companies include information about who to contact in order to streamline the job search process, so read the job listing carefully for any instruction on who to address your letter to. Look at email addresses or social media profiles linked to the posting and see if the hiring manager’s name is listed. If you previously communicated with someone at the company about your application, consider reaching out and asking who you should address your cover letter to.
Look at the company website
Some companies keep a list of key employees or even a full directory of their employees available on their website. They may have a separate careers page with information on a hiring manager, or you may be able to find the name of a human resources representative for your position. Look for who the managers are for the department are applying to work with and determine who would work most closely with your position. You can also search for the company online and find outside information on their hiring structure.
Call the business
You can call the front office of a company and ask for the name of the contact person for the position you are applying for. Be sure to call during business hours and be as specific as possible so that you get the name of the correct person. If you are still not able to confirm the name of a contact, the company will likely expect applicants to use the name of their hiring manager’s position or even leave off the greeting entirely.
How to address a cover letter
Use these steps as a guide toward addressing your cover letter:
1. First, verify your information
Once you have the name or title of the person receiving your cover letter, make sure that all of your information is accurate. Do a quick search to see if they have any honorifics such as Dr. or Prof. that you can include in your greeting Avoid using gendered language such as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ unless you have confirmed that they prefer to be addressed by that term.
2. Second, choose a salutation
Including a salutation is optional and based on personal preference. One option for beginning your cover letter is to simply list the name of the hiring manager followed by a comma. ‘Dear’ followed by their name and a comma is also a professional way to open your greeting. You should avoid less casual greetings such as ‘hey’ and ‘hello.’
3. Third, use a consistent format
When addressing your cover letter, use the same font and style as the rest of your application materials. Your greeting should be above the body of your letter and below a header that includes your name and contact information. Use consistent spacing before and after the greeting to make the letter easier to read for the hiring manager while devoting most of the page to the content of your letter.
4. Lastly, proofread
Every time you send out a cover letter, proofread every part of it including the address. Proofreading can help you avoid accidentally sending one company a cover letter with another company’s hiring manager listed in the greeting. Confirm the spelling of any names or titles and have another person check your work for typos. You should also make sure that you are using proper capitalization for their name and title.
Template for how to address a cover letter
Here is a brief template you can use when crafting a new cover letter or adding to an existing one:
[First name] [Last name]
[City, State ZIP code]
Dear [Honorific]. [First name] [Last name],
Examples of how to address a cover letter
These are all examples of an acceptable greeting for a cover letter:
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dr. Alison Choudary,
- Dear Human Resources Manager,
- Dear Revolve Marketing Team,
- Dear Prof. Rivera,
- Dear Sierra,
- Ms. Cleo Thet,
Regardless of whether you can find the name of the hiring manager or not, you can still include a professional greeting when addressing your cover letter. While the way you address your cover letter will not likely convince someone to hire you, a greeting with dated or unprofessional language can easily discourage a hiring manager from taking your application seriously. You can use only a first name or add a salutation and honorific depending on your preference.
Tips for addressing a cover letter
Use these tips to make sure your greeting is relevant and appropriate to the position:
- Avoid phrases like ‘to whom it may concern’ or any other excessively formal language when possible.
- Consider addressing the team you will be working with as a group if you do not have the name of your contact for the job.
- If you have already communicated with the hiring manager, look at their email signature to see how they prefer to be addressed. For example, if the hiring manager signs their emails as ‘Mr. Dunlap,’ that is an indication that you should call him that as opposed to his full name.
- When writing your cover letter or adapting it for a new position, make sure that every section including the greeting is professional and purposeful.