Knowing how to address a cover letter properly is the first step toward starting your cover letter. Not only that, but finding out the right person to address shows initiative and that you’ve researched the position, so it’s essential that you get it right.
Who to address a cover letter to
You should address a cover letter to the hiring manager of the job you’re applying for, or the HR manager of the company. A basic cover letter salutation (or greeting) uses the hiring manager’s first and last name, and includes a “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or other relevant professional title before their name.
How to find the appropriate person to contact
In many cases, the hiring manager’s name will be mentioned in the job description.
If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name in the job description, make the effort to find their name elsewhere.
Addressing the hiring manager directly allows you to quickly establish a personal connection, and show you’ve done some research.
It’s worth the extra work, so use the following sources to help you find the hiring manager’s name:
- The company website: See if you can locate the hiring manager on the “About Us” or “Company Directory” page of the company’s website.
- LinkedIn: Browse the company’s LinkedIn page and use filters such as position title, location, and personal names to find out who heads the hiring team.
- Google search: A targeted Google search can help you uncover the name of the hiring manager. Simply insert the company website and relevant title into Google in the following format: site:resumegenius.com “position title”
- Contact the company: If you’re still unable to find the hiring manager’s name, call or email the company and ask for the contact person’s name (and direct email address if you don’t have it already). Explain that you’re applying for a position and you’d like to address your cover letter to someone responsible for filling that position.
How to address a cover letter without a name
If you’ve exhausted all your options and still can’t find the hiring manager’s name, or you’re not positive it’s the right name and don’t want to risk addressing the wrong person, don’t worry.
There are plenty of ways to address your cover letter if you don’t know the name of the hiring manager. Here are the most common ways to address your cover letter to an unknown person:
- Dear Sir/Madam
- To Whom It May Concern
- Dear Human Resources Director
- Dear Hiring Manager
Additionally, if you want to add a personal touch, address your cover letter to your prospective department or manager. For example, “Dear Customer Service Department,”.
How to address a cover letter when you have the hiring manager’s name
Even when you have the hiring manager’s name, there are still a few different ways to address your cover letter.
Use the right salutation
First thing’s first: you need to use the proper salutation. In most cases, “Dear” followed by the hiring manager’s name is perfect because it’s traditional and professional.
However, “Hello” is also acceptable if you’re applying to a job with a casual office culture or you know the hiring manager personally.
Use their professional or gendered title
In some cases, it might be unclear what title to use when addressing the hiring manager.
If the hiring manager has a gender-neutral name, it’s best not to assume their gender and risk making a mistake. In this situation, simply avoid gender-specific titles such as “Mr.” and “Ms.” in your greeting.
Instead, do either of the following to make your cover letter salutation gender-neutral:
- Write out their first and last names in full (ex. Jordan Reeves)
- or in some cases you might want to use the gender-neutral pronoun “Mx.“, in the case that the hiring manager uses They/Them pronouns
When addressing a cover letter to a hiring manager with a professional or academic title (such as Doctor or Professor), include their title in your salutation. You can write out the full title or use an abbreviation. For example, “Reverend” and “Rev.” are both fine.
Here are some examples of a few different ways to address your cover letter:
- Dear Sam Jones,
- Dear Mx. Lopez,
- Dear Ms. Patel
- Dear Prof. Tsai
If you’re addressing your cover letter with “Dear” you should always use the hiring manager’s last name.
The only time it’s acceptable to address the hiring manager with only their first name (for example, “Dear Mollie,”) is if you’re writing a cover letter for an internal position or promotion in the same company, and you already know the hiring manager.