Needless to say, it’s important to address your cover letter correctly — and send it to the right person. An inappropriate greeting could undermine an otherwise excellent application.
Here’s how to address a cover letter so it reaches the right contact person and makes a good first impression on them.
Who to address a cover letter to
You should always address your cover letter directly to the person who will be reading it. Normally, the job description will include a named contact person to address your cover letter to:
However, sometimes there won’t be an obvious person for you to contact, especially if you’re sending out a speculative cover letter or writing an online cover letter to submit through certain job boards. In these situations, address your cover letter to the head of the department or HR, using their name or job title.
How to find out who to address a cover letter to
Finding the right person to address your cover letter to is fairly easy with a little research. In most cases, you’ll be able to find the right person by checking the following sources:
- The company’s ‘About Us’ page: You’ll often be able to find employees and their job titles listed on the company website.
- LinkedIn: Search the company and use the ‘People’ tab to access a list of people associated with the company. Then use terms like ‘marketing’, ‘human resources’, or ‘manager’ to narrow your search.
- Google: Use search operators (targeted search terms) to broaden or define your search. Putting a job title in double quotation marks (e.g., “press officer”) will prompt Google to search for that exact phrase, while “site:[company website]” will only return results from the company website.
Alternatively, you can also contact the company directly by phone or email. Reach out to the target company using the contact information on their website or via a HR employee on Twitter or LinkedIn. State the job you want to apply for and ask who you should address your application to.
Reaching out to a potential employer might be intimidating, but taking this personalised approach will show them you’re enthusiastic about the opportunity — and make your application more noticeable.
How to address a cover letter without a name
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t be able to find a contact person.
If you really can’t find a name, you can still personalise your letter by addressing the employer by their department:
- Dear Accounting Department,
- Dear Human Resources Director,
- Dear Apple Marketing Team,
- Dear Head of Public Relations,
- Dear Human Resources Manager,
If you’re unsure of the contact person’s department, use ‘Dear Hiring Manager,’ or ‘Dear Recruitment Manager,’ It’s impersonal, but it gets the job done.
How to address a cover letter with a name
Know the contact person’s name? Here are some ways to address a cover letter that are suitable for most situations:
Additionally, you should consider a couple of things before you move on to your cover letter introduction.
1. Are you using the right salutation?
If you’re certain of the employer’s gender, use the title ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ in your greeting, followed by their last name and a comma:
Dear Mr Heath,
Dear Ms Veitch,
If the employer has a gender-neutral name, or you just aren’t sure of their gender, either use ‘Dear’ followed by their full name or the gender-neutral Mx followed by their last name.
Dear Nikola Mischenko
Dear Mx Mischenko,
2. Does the contact person have a special title?
Depending on your industry, the employer might have a specific professional title. This will normally be specified in the job description or company website. But if you’re unsure, here are the appropriate salutations for different special titles in the UK:
|Type of Title||Salutation|
|Professors||Dear Prof. [Last Name],|
|Doctors (Medical and Academic)||Dear Dr [Last Name],|
|Knights and Dames||Dear Sir/Dame [First Name],|
How to format the addresses on your cover letter
Here’s how to put your address and the company’s address on your cover letter:
- Single space and right-align your contact information (your name, postal address, email, and phone number)
- Add today’s date under your cover letter heading and right-align it
- Hit ‘Enter’ twice to add a paragraph break, and put the employer’s contact information in a left-aligned list
- Hit ‘Enter’ twice and write your greeting
Here’s what it should look like:
To see how cover letter formatting differs by industry, look at industry-specific cover letter samples.
Frequently asked questions about addressing a cover letter
Below we answer three questions commonly asked about how to address a cover letter for a job:
- How do you address an email cover letter?
- Who do you address a cover letter to?
- What is a warm salutation?
- Is ‘To whom it may concern’ rude?
1. How do you address an email cover letter?
You address an email cover letter as you would a physical cover letter. Use a formal full-name greeting or a formal salutation followed by the contact person’s last name. Here are a few examples:
- Dear Joanna Parks
- Dear Ms Wells
- Dear Mr Riddley
- Hello Fiona Walker
- Dear Dr Blake
2. Who do you address a cover letter to?
You should address you cover letter to the hiring manager. Greet the hiring manager by their name, using a formal salutation, such as ‘Dear [Full Name]’, or ‘Dear Mr/Ms/Mx [Last Name]’.
If you can’t find out the contact person’s name, address them by their department, or as a last resort use ‘Dear Hiring Manager,’ or ‘Dear Recruitment Manager,’.
3. What is a warm salutation?
A warm salutation is one that:
- starts with ‘Dear’
- addresses the contact person by name
Here’s an example of a warm salutation followed by a cold one you should avoid using wherever possible:
Dear Ms Kryzgalia,
To Whom It May Concern,
4. Is ‘To whom it may concern’ rude?
‘To whom it may concern’ isn’t rude. It’s a polite way of addressing your cover letter when you don’t know the name, job title, or department of the person who will be reading it.
Though ‘To whom it may concern’ is an acceptable way to start your cover letter, here’s why you should consider alternative greetings:
- If the hiring manager’s information is readily available, it might make you look lazy
- ‘To whom it may concern’ is stiff and outdated. Expressions like ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or ‘Dear Recruiting Manager’ sound more natural
You can always call the company and ask who to direct your cover letter to. This will help your application get noticed and will make you appear a more enthusiastic, proactive applicant.