6 ‘To Whom It May Concern’ Alternatives
Starting your cover letter with ‘To Whom It May Concern’ makes you seem stiff and impersonal. So here are six better options:
- Dear [Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss/Mx] [Contact Person’s Surname],
- Dear [Job Title],
- Dear [Department Name],
- Dear Recruiter,
- Dear [(Position You Want) Hiring Team],
- Dear [Creative Nickname],
1. Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss/Mx [Contact Person’s Surname],
The standard greeting for cover letters is ‘Dear’ followed by your contact person’s title, surname, and a comma.
Here are examples of how to address a cover letter with the contact person’s name:
Dear Mr White,
Dear Ms Rodney,
Dear Mx Taylor,
Remember these points when choosing a title:
- Use ‘Mr/Ms’ if you know the employer’s gender. If a female contact has a preference (perhaps they mention it in the job advert), you can use ‘Mrs’ or ‘Miss’.
- Use ‘Mx’ if the gender of the contact person is unclear or if they have a unisex name like Jessie, Addison, or Jamie. (You can also use ‘Dear [Full Name],’ to avoid offending the reader.)
2. Dear [Job Title],
If you know the contact person’s position but don’t know their name, you can address their job title using the format ‘Dear [Job Title]’. For example:
Dear Managing Director,
Dear Human Resources Manager,
Dear Human Resources Director,
Dear Customer Service Manager,
Dear Head of Sales,
3. Dear [Department Name],
If you know the name of the department you’re applying to, you can address your cover letter like this:
Dear Sales Department,
Dear Human Resources Department,
Dear Finance Department,
Dear Customer Service Department,
4. Dear Recruiter,
If you’ve done your research and still can’t find a contact name, job title, or department, address your cover letter to the recruiter, like this:
5. Dear [Position You Want] Hiring Team,
Beginning your cover letter ‘Dear [Position You Want] Hiring Team,’ is a great way to emphasise the job title you’re seeking. Here are three examples of how to address the hiring team for your target position:
Dear Graphic Design Specialist Hiring Team,
Dear Accounting Intern Hiring Team,
Dear Marketing Manager Hiring Team,
6. Dear [Creative Nickname],
You can also use a creative nickname to open your cover letter — but only if the job description’s tone and directions make it clear that the recruiter values unique, creative applications.
Dear Future Boss,
Dear Leader of Humans,
Dear David Brent of [Company Name],
How to find ‘To Whom It May Concern’ replacements
If the job advert doesn’t include the contact person’s information, you can find ‘To Whom It May Concern’ alternatives by following these four tips:
1. Check the company website
Companies often have an ‘About Us’, ‘Team’, or ‘Company Directory’ page that lists employees and their job titles.
At the very least, you’ll find a general information inbox where you can send a request to learn the name or title of the person you should address your letter to.
2. Do a targeted Google search
Use Google’s site search operator to find specific information on the company’s website. The site search format is:
site:companyname.com “job title”
3. Visit the company’s LinkedIn profile
Search for the company’s profile on LinkedIn. On the top of the company’s page is a hyperlink that prompts you to ‘View all [number] employees’. You can click that link and then skim the list until you find the person or job title you’re looking for.
4. Contact the company
Call or email the company to ask for the contact person’s name, job title, and work email address. (Don’t forget to explain why you need the information, or you may be confused for a spammer.)
Reaching out to the company shows the employer that you’re willing to take initiative and are genuinely interested in the job.
When to use ‘To Whom It May Concern’
If there’s truly no way to find a contact person, ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is acceptable in these situations:
1. Prospecting cover letters
When you send your resume to companies to see if they have any open positions, you probably won’t have a contact person to address. In that situation, you can use ‘To Whom It May Concern’ if you can’t find a suitable contact person.
Here’s an example of a speculative cover letter in the body of an email:
To Whom It May Concern,
I’m writing to ask if you have an opening for an experienced receptionist at your organisation.
I’d love to contact the person in charge of recruitment for this role as I’m interested in discussing the possibility of working for your company.
2. Formal complaints & feedback
You can use a generic greeting when you write to express your displeasure or recommendations for a company’s products and services. ‘To Whom It May Concern,’ is very effective in this case because it sets a neutral tone and helps ensure your feedback gets to the right person.
Here’s an example of a formal complaint letter with an impersonal salutation:
To Whom It May Concern,
I’m writing to express my displeasure at the way I was treated by your security team on my interview date, 22 March 2021.
I was refused entry into the building, even after repeatedly explaining that I had an interview and showing them my letter of invitation. I missed my interview as a result of this treatment.
Please look into this situation so we can come to an amicable resolution.
3. Letters of recommendation
If you’re writing a recommendation for a former colleague or employee, you can use ‘To Whom It May Concern’ (unless the person you’re writing the recommendation for provides a contact person). The person who reads your letter won’t expect you to know whom to address the letter to.
Here’s an example of ‘To Whom It May Concern’ used to start a letter of recommendation:
To Whom It May Concern,
I’m writing to confirm that Carole Birkins was an employee at FarmTrust Ltd. for 3 years.
In that time, she dedicated herself to becoming one of our top-performing business analysts and volunteered for projects that were beyond her role. I highly recommend Carole for this position.
How to use ‘To Whom It May Concern’ (if you absolutely have to)
If you must address a cover letter with ‘To Whom It May Concern,’ here’s how to do it properly:
Follow formal cover letter formatting
When using formal greetings like ‘To Whom It May Concern’, follow these formatting rules:
- Capitalise the first letter of every word
- End the phrase with a comma
- Start a new paragraph after typing your greeting
- Use awkward variations like ‘Dear Whom It May Concern’, ‘To Whomever It May Concern’, or ‘To Whom This May Concern’
Choose the right cover letter ending
The greeting you use determines how to end your cover letter. Use:
- ‘Yours faithfully,’ if your cover letter starts with ‘To Whom It May Concern,’ or another opening without a person’s name
- ‘Yours sincerely,’ if the cover letter starts with a person’s name