How to Address a Cover Letter (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 6, 2022 | Published February 16, 2018

Updated June 6, 2022

Published February 16, 2018

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: When and Why to Write a Cover Letter - Plus, Top Tips for Formatting

Jenn shares her advice on how and why to write a cover letter.

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.

Related: 7 Powerful Ways to Start a Cover Letter

To Whom It May Concern
Image description

"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 Ph.D., 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.)

Related: How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (With Template and Example)

For example:

  • Prof. Aldridge

  • Rev. McClellan

  • Sgt. Linh

Related: Q&A: What’s the Ideal Cover Letter Length?

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.

Related: How To Format a Cover Letter (With Outline and Examples)

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-infographic
Image description

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

Related: Cover Letter Samples

Avoid using impersonal greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” These are outdated and overly formal.

Related: Job Cast: Cover Letter Tips: How To Write One and When It's Necessary

This online workshop offers tools to write clear, concise and compelling cover letters that effectively communicate your value.


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