Make a positive first impression by addressing your cover letter to the right person. An appropriate salutation is specific and sets the tone for the rest of your cover letter, demonstrating your attention to detail and making your job application stand out.
Below, you’ll find tips on how to address a cover letter and examples to help you start a cover letter that will catch the hiring manager’s attention.
When you know the hiring manager’s name
Establish a personal connection by addressing the hiring manager directly. If you have their full name but aren’t sure of their gender, begin with “Dear” followed by their first and last name. Even if you know their gender, this is always a safe option. For example:
- Dear Robin Lopez
- Dear Shadi Hamid
If you are certain of their gender and want to use a title, use either "Mr." or "Ms." Avoid using "Mrs." or "Miss" since this will involve some guesswork about their marital status. (You may make an exception if you know the hiring manager personally and they have told you their preference.) Follow the title with their last name. For example:
- Dear Ms. Greene
- Dear Mr. Johnson
Avoid greetings like “Hey,” or “Hi,” which are too casual for formal documents like cover letters.
"To Whom It May Concern" Alternatives
"Greetings," "Hello," "Hi there," "Dear [Team or Department]," "Dear [Job Title]," "Dear [First Name]," or "Dear [Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr./Professor] [Last Name]"
When your contact has an academic or professional title
There are times when you may want to replace "Mr." or "Ms." in your cover letter salutation with a different prefix. For example, if the person holds a PhD, it is considered more respectful to address them as “Dr. Last Name,” instead of “Ms. Last Name.” Other academic or professional titles you may encounter include:
- Professor (Prof.)
- Reverend (Rev.)
- Sergeant (Sgt.)
- Prof. Aldridge
- Rev. McClellan
- Sgt. Linh
When you don’t have a contact name
If you don’t know to whom you should address your cover letter, do some research to find the hiring manager’s name. Addressing a specific person tells the hiring manager that you’ve written the cover letter for this specific role. It also shows that you’ve taken the initiative to learn more about the company.
To find the hiring manager’s name, refer to the job listing, carefully search professional networking sites and the company website, or conduct targeted Google searches. If you still can’t identify the hiring manager, try calling the company. Explain that you’re applying for a job and would like to address your cover letter to the correct person. Alternatively, you can email the company.
When you still can’t find the hiring manager’s name
If you’ve done your research but are still unable to find a name, use a generic yet well-thought-out salutation. Show that you’ve thoroughly read the job description by tailoring your salutation to the specific job and company. What company department is the job part of? Who will you be reporting to?
Cover Letter Format
1. Date and contact information
2. Salutation or greeting
3. Opening paragraph
4. Middle paragraph(s)
5. Closing paragraph
6. Letter ending and signature
It’s always acceptable to use “Dear Hiring Manager,” but there are also other options, such as:
- Dear Finance Department
- Dear Company ABC Team
- Dear Customer Service Manager
- Dear Company XYZ Recruiter
- To the Marketing Department
- Dear Head of Design
Avoid using impersonal greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” These are outdated and overly formal.