When you’re applying for a competitive position, a polished cover letter can give you the edge you need.
Part of writing a convincing cover letter is addressing it to the right person. But what should you do if the name of the hiring manager isn’t listed in the job ad? Fortunately, there are several ways you can address a cover letter without a name.
Who to address your cover letter to if the recipient is unknown
Opening your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager by name is always preferable to a generic greeting. It’s worth spending a bit of extra time trying to find the name of a contact person, because this shows that you’ve done your research and signals to employers that you’re serious about the job.
However, if you’re unable to find a name despite your best efforts, here’s who to address your cover letter to when the recipient is unknown:
The hiring manager
When you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, one option is to simply address them by their title, like this:
Dear Hiring Manager
This salutation is better than a generic “hello” and makes you come across as professional and polite.
Or, if you know the hiring manager’s first name but not their last name, you can address your cover letter like this:
Dear Ms./Mr. [Hiring Manager’s last name]
Another alternative when you can’t find the hiring manager’s name is to address your cover letter to the team you’re applying to join.
Starting your cover letter with a salutation to the team is specific enough to show that you’ve put thought into your cover letter, even though you’re not including a name.
If you know which department your target role is in, you can address your cover letter to that department by using this format for your salutation:
Dear Customer Service Department
Not only does this make your cover letter more personalized than if you left out the salutation entirely, but it also demonstrates a basic familiarity with the organization and its company structure.
The search committee
For some positions, there might be a search committee responsible for reviewing applications. For example, if you’re applying for a grant or a position in academia, you’ll need to write an academic CV and cover letter tailored to appeal to search committees.
The department director
Applying for a senior position? Instead of going for one of the other options on this list, address your cover letter to the department director. You can do this even if you don’t know their name, like this:
Dear Director of Marketing
This salutation demonstrates professionalism even though you’re addressing your cover letter without a name.
Example of how to start a cover letter without a name
Not sure what a cover letter without a name should look like? Here’s an example written by a candidate applying for a teaching position:
How to find the name of the hiring manager
Before you decide to address your cover letter without a name, make sure that you’ve already used the following methods to try to find the name of the hiring manager:
Read the job description
Even if the job description doesn’t mention a contact person by name, it might provide clues about who you should address in your cover letter.
For example, the job ad might mention that you’d be reporting to the director of marketing, or work closely with the sales manager. Details like this can help you in your search.
Search on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great resource for finding the hiring manager’s name. To find the name of the hiring manager on LinkedIn, start by searching for the company you’re interested in.
Once you have found the company’s LinkedIn page, click on “People” and go through the list of employees. Look for job titles like “HR manager”, “recruiter”, or “talent acquisition manager”.
Visit the website
Another way to figure out who to address your cover letter to is by visiting the company’s website. Many businesses have an “About Us” page that lists the names and titles of employees.
Check the company’s social media
Is the company you’re applying for active on social media? If so, they might have announced the job opening on one of their social media profiles.
Go through their recent posts and see if you can find one that mentions it. In some cases the post will include information about who to submit your application to.
If you haven’t been able to find the name of the hiring manager using any of the methods above, another alternative is to do a quick Google search. Search for the company name and “hiring manager” or “recruiter” to see if you can find any information.
Contact the HR department
If all else fails, you can reach out to the company’s HR department and ask for the name of the hiring manager. Explain that you’re interested in applying for a job and would like to address your cover letter to the right person. Remember to be polite and professional when making this request.
Cover letter salutations to avoid
To ensure you make a good first impression on recruiters, you should avoid greetings that make you appear old-fashioned or unprofessional. Here are some common salutations that you should avoid when addressing your cover letter without a name:
- To Whom it May Concern – This salutation is considered outdated.
- Hey – A simple “hey” is too casual for a cover letter.
- Dear Sir/Madam – Many recruiters think this greeting is old-fashioned.
- Ladies and Gentlemen – This salutation is both too formal and generic.
- Esteemed Hiring Manager – While this greeting is polite, it can come across as insincere.