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How to Find Out to Whom to Address a Cover Letter

Sep 06, 2023
How to Find Out to Whom to Address a Cover Letter

Begin with a Proper Greeting

When writing a cover letter, it is very important to start with an appropriate greeting. You’ll be sending your letter to the hiring manager, and the way you address them matters.

​The greeting is the first thing the reader will see. Thankfully, there is a proven technique to ensure your greeting gets their immediate attention: using their name.

​If we hear or see our names, we react; this is a scientifically proven fact. As soon as a hiring manager sees their own name in the welcome of a cover letter, they will sit up and take notice. Thanks to the personal appeal, they will think of the text of the letter as personal. This will give them the impression that the rest of the information may be exactly what they were looking for.

​Any of the following options are suitable greetings in a cover letter:

  • Dear Victoria,
  • Good day to you, Steven,
  • Dear Ms. Nixon,
  • Dear Mr. Richards,

The following options, however, are not okay for use in a cover letter:

  • Hi, John!
  • What's up, Hiring Manager?
  • Hey,

​The fact that you got the address and name of the recruiter correct means that you have spent time searching the company (i.e., finding the name and position of the hiring manager) and paying attention to detail. So before you send your letter, conduct a little research to determine exactly who will be reading it.

Formalities are important because a cover letter is a formal document that you send to a company representative. An informal introduction, like a letter to a friend, will not work here; you need to maintain a sense of professionalism.

Where to Find the Right Addressee for a Cover Letter

So, how do you determine the correct addressee for your cover letter? How do you know who you are really sending it to? Here are some tips and tricks to help:

  • Review the job description. In the job description you are applying for, there is usually information about the recruiter or hiring department, including the name of the contact person. Mention this person and address your document to them. Be sure to read the entire description, as this information may not be explicit.

  • Visit the company's website. Often websites have a Career section, or a page called OurTeam (or something similar), and they will often contain the contact details for HR managers or the general HR manager.

  • LinkedIn profiles are another place where you can find this information. To get started, check out companies on LinkedIn. Look up who works at the company you're applying for; someone from the HR department will very likely be listed there.

  • Ask your friends. If you have friends or acquaintances who work for this company, they may be able to help.• Contact the company. If you can’t find the information you need, you can simply request it by writing or calling the available contacts. Explain that you are applying for a position and would like to send a cover letter to the person responsible for filling the position.

Addressing your cover letter directly to the person in charge of hiring will allow you to quickly establish a personal connection between you and the company and show that you are interested in the position and have done some preliminary research. A cover letter addressed to the right person and targeted at the company you're applying to is more likely to get noticed than an unaddressed cover letter sent to multiple companies at once.

Addressing Hiring Personnel by Title

If you find out that the hiring manager has an academic, military, or aristocratic rank, is a member of the clergy, etc., then you can use this in your address. For example, if the hiring manager has a Ph.D., it is better to address them as "Dr. Surname" instead of "Mr./Mrs. Surname."Here are some options you can use depending on the situation:

  • Professor Williams
  • Reverend Father Craig
  • Lieutenant McCarty

But this is only if you are sure they have such a title; if not, it is better to stick with “Mr./Mrs.” or“Dear.”

When you address a woman and you do not know whether she is married, use “Ms.” This is a neutral option that doesn’t indicate any particular marital status. Some women prefer not to be addressed with the words "Miss" or "Mrs." so it's best to stick with "Ms." in these cases.

Addressing a Cover Letter without a Contact Person

Sometimes it happens that you have looked and looked for a contact name, but you simply cannot find any specific person to whom you could address your cover letter. In this case, you can simply send a cover letter to a company, department, military unit, or other organization. For example:

  • Dear Marketing Director,
  • Dear Head of Department,
  • Dear Human Resources, 

Regardless of whether you have an individual’s name or not, you must still include an address in your cover letter, even for a group of people.

Here are some more tips on how to write a cover letter:

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Tips for Writing Great Cover Letters

You can find the full guide on how to write a cover letter in this post, but here are several tips that will help you write a cover letter that stands out.

  • Don't duplicate your resume. There is no need to simply repeat information that’s already in your resume. A cover letter gives you leeway. Don't miss the chance to explain in greater detail the main points of your resume or tell a story about why you are the perfect fit for the company. 

  • Tell them what you are capable of. In addition to explaining what you have done in the past, show what you can do in the future. Read the text of the job description carefully and determine what the employer needs. Write in your text what you know, can do, and will do.

  • Describe your skills. When you realize that you have the potential to do the job but your experience doesn't fully match the job, focus on your skills.

  • Tell your story. Why do you want to work for this company? Perhaps their products have changed your life. Or you have walked past the building their office is in for many years and dreamed of working here. Feel free to tell stories like this, but they should be short and clear.

  • Use numbers. Sometimes numbers speak louder than words. Use statistics to illustrate your professional impact on organizations you used to work for. Employers love to see numbers. It shows that you speak their language.

  • Add reviews. If you have great references from former executives, employees, or clients, don't be afraid to use them!

  • Be open to different formats. A cover letter doesn't have to be boring; there are many ways to spice it up. Are you planning to work in a startup? Make your email creative: play with forms, visualize data, shoot a video, or tell a story in pictures. Most likely, your chances of getting a call from a recruiter will increase. Are you going to send your resume to a serious company with traditional foundations? Use the standard approach. But write your letter in human terms 

  • Don't go too far with creativity. Stand out but know when to stop. If you've created an unusual cover letter, ask a close friend to review it for you. If they approve, then feel free to send it.

  • Research information about the company. A cover letter is a good way to show you understand and support the corporate values of the company, which further reinforces that you are the person they need to hire. Such information can be obtained from the website. Also, when writing a cover letter, always think about the person who will read it.

  • Keep it short. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but in general, you should not write a cover letter longer than half a page.

  • Don't forget to check your work. It is easy to check the text for errors with native spellcheckers, online spell-check services and other automated tools. After editing and evaluation by the reviewer, let the text rest for 12 hours. When you read it again, you may see an error that you didn’t notice before.

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