How to address a cover letter

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These days, learning how to navigate the job search process can sometimes feel like a landmine. Applying to a job is no longer as simple as getting an application from the manager and making a connection in person.

Searching for and applying to jobs is now more than ever an online expedition. Although having sites like Zippia help you apply to more jobs because you are no longer limited to local positions, it also comes with its own hurdles.

One of these hurdles is writing a cover letter, often to a person you do not know. Sometimes you may not even know the name of the person you are addressing the cover letter to.

When sitting down to write a cover letter, you may be asking yourself — How do I address a cover letter correctly when I don’t know who the hiring manager is? How formal does addressing a cover letter need to be?

Thankfully, addressing a cover letter is quite simple, you just need to keep these things in mind when writing your cover letters.

HOW TO ADDRESS A COVER LETTER

  1. Take the time to research who you should address your cover letter to– it can make a great first impression on recruiters and hiring managers.
  2. Address the cover letter with the correct title or honorific because making a careless mistake her can make your cover letter appear sloppy.
  3. When in doubt, go without. Address your cover letter with a generic title or honorific if you are not sure what to use.

Ready to learn more about what specifically to write when addressing a cover letter? Keep reading for details on how to address a cover letter with confidence.

FIRST STEPS TO ADDRESS A COVER LETTER

The first step in addressing a cover letter is researching who the cover letter will be read by. One way to make a very good impression, especially with online applications, is taking the time to research who the hiring manager or recruiter is for the department you are applying for.

You can call the HR department at a company and ask for the hiring manager’s name to be used on a cover letter. If you were contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn or another job hiring platform, you can confirm with the recruiter who the cover letter should be addressed to. Properly addressing the cover letter by having the correct name is the most important step. But what if the name is not available?

HOW TO ADDRESS A COVER LETTER WITH NO NAME

When applying for jobs online, it can be hard to find out which person will be reading your cover letter. Sometimes, the name just will not be available.

If the name is not available online, then you can address the cover letter with a generic salutation. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can write, “Hey you!” or “Dear hiring person,” but there are a few phrases you can use that are professional and fine to use.

SAMPLES OF ADDRESSING A COVER LETTER: SPECIAL HONORIFICS

To address a cover letter correctly, you will need to make sure you have an appropriate salutation paired with the correct title/honorific.

For example, if you are addressing a cover letter to a person with a medical degree or doctorate, you will need to write Dr. before their name. Not doing so is not professional.

Examples

Dear Dr. Keller, Dear Dr. Michael Ward, and Dear Dr. Liz Sells.

If you do not know the correct title of the person, do not put a title with the name. The same goes for people with other special titles, like Reverend. You can put something neutral instead like Dear [First name] [Last name].

SAMPLES OF ADDRESSING A COVER LETTER: MRS. VS. MS.

It is better to address women without the Mrs. title. The Mrs. title implies that the woman is married and since that information is not easy to come by, keep it safe and address the woman as Ms.

Examples

Dear Ms. Keller, Dear Ms. O’Brian, and Dear Ms. Sells.

For males, keep to Mr. as the title. You don’t need to write “Master” or “Sir” when addressing your cover letter. Using alternative titles can seem old-fashioned and much too formal.

SAMPLES OF ADDRESSING A COVER LETTER: UNKNOWN RECIPIENT

If you do not know the recipient of the cover letter, you can use a more generic greeting or you can even go without a greeting. It is better to be safe than sorry for these greetings.

Generic forms of addressing a cover letter include Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Talent Acquisition Team, Dear “Company Name” Recruiter, Dear Human Resources Manager, Dear Human Resources Department, etc.

Some people like to use Dear Sir or Madam as a generic greeting for a cover letter, but using that is a bit too formal. In some countries, however, Sir and Madam may be standard, but in the United States, it is a bit formal.

Using the greeting, “To whom it may concern,” is also a bit too formal for most cover letters and will probably not match the rest of your writing style, making it seem awkward.

SUMMARY

When applying for jobs, making sure you have every detail perfect can be a nerve-wracking time. With the tight job market, you are probably applying to many jobs at the same time, but don’t let the volume of the applications lower your quality of applications.

But with Zippia, you can have access to articles on how to apply for jobs with confidence. Addressing the cover letter with class is a simple way to making a great first impression for recruiters and hiring managers.

This article first appeared on Zippia.