Resumes & Cover Letters

How To Address A Cover Letter (With Examples)

August 25, 2020

Your cover letter is a great way to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and make a positive first impression. You should address your cover letter to the person making the hiring decision to ensure they receive it in a timely manner. There are several ways to address your cover letter based on the information you can find. In this article, we explain how to find the name of the right recipient and provide some examples of ways you can address your cover letter.

Why is knowing how to address a cover letter important?

Your cover letter is likely one of the first things the hiring manager will read. If you can address them by their name, it helps establish a connection that you can build upon throughout the hiring process. Using the right name also shows that you took the time to research the company and that you're very interested in the role.

In some cases, the hiring manager's name is listed clearly on the job posting, while in other cases, you may need to perform some research to find their name. If you can't find their name after doing some research, there are other ways to address your cover letter that are just as effective.

How to find the recipient's name

If you can't find the name of the person who makes the hiring decisions immediately, there are a few steps you can try, including:

  1. Check the company website
  2. Reread the job posting
  3. Call the company
  4. Use search engines or search professional networking sites
  5. Ask your connections

1. Check the company website

The first place you should begin looking for the hiring manager's name is on the company website. Check for an 'About Us' or 'Contact Us' page that lists the decision-makers in the company. You may be able to find the name of the department head or the head of HR. Alternatively, you can look for a 'Careers' page in which the company lists current openings. There might be a contact name on that page that you can use.

2. Reread the job posting

Reread the job opening to see if the hiring manager's name is listed anywhere on the posting. There may be instructions for how to submit your application, including the hiring manager's name and email address. You can usually find instructions toward the bottom of the posting. In some cases, you might encounter a line like, 'Send your resume and cover letter to raheem.mosen@email.ca.' You're likely safe to address Raheem Mosen in your cover letter in this instance.

3. Call the company

If you can't find the name of the person on the company website or on the job posting, call the organization. You should look for a direct line to the human resources department, but you can also call its general line. Explain that you're applying for a specific job, and you want to address your cover letter to the correct recipient. You could also try emailing the general company email, but it might take a little longer to get a response.

4. Use search engines or search professional networking sites

By perusing through search engines or professional networking sites, you may be able to find the hiring manager's name. Search for the company name and department, then refine your search based on your initial find.

5. Ask you connections

Check your network to see if you know anyone who works at the company or has worked in the same industry for several years. It's possible that they can help you find the name of the hiring manager. They can also give you valuable insight about the company and what you can expect. If you know them well, they could provide you with a positive reference, too.

Addressing a cover letter if you don't know the recipient's name

Sometimes you may not be able to find the recipient's name even if you checked the website, reviewed the job posting and called the company. It's perfectly acceptable to use a more generic salutation in this case. Most hiring managers understand this situation and usually focus more on the actual content of your cover letter.

In most cases, your resume and cover letter will first go through an applicant tracking system, where talent acquisition specialists or human resources review it before passing them along to the appropriate hiring manager. If you're applying to a position that happens to use an applicant tracking system, keep the cover letter greeting generic. The human resources professional can forward your resume to the correct hiring manager based on the job you're applying for. Some examples of generic salutations are:

  • Dear Human Resources Department
  • Dear Recruiting Department for [Company Name]
  • Dear [Company Name] Recruiter

If you know the department name, try these salutations:

  • Dear Finance Department
  • To the Marketing Department
  • Dear Graphics Team

You could also try one of these salutations if you know the title of the hiring manager:

  • Dear Head of Design
  • Dear Customer Service Manager
  • To the Project Director

It's helpful to be as specific as possible when addressing your cover letter. The more information you can find, the better.

Ways to address a cover letter in an email

If you're emailing your application, you need to use the appropriate address in the subject line and in the body. Here's what you should do:

In the subject line

You should include the name of the position and your name in the subject line. Make it as clear as possible that you're applying for a specific position so that your email can be forwarded to the correct department.

Example Subject Line: Application—Product Marketing Specialist—Jane Smith

Some job postings give instructions for what to put in the subject line so recruiters can sort emails accordingly. Reread the job posting to make sure you follow any directions listed. If there are no directions, your email subject line should stand out in an inbox so the hiring manager can easily identify it.

In the body

The first line of your email should address the recipient, which differs slightly from paper cover letters. In cover letters, you usually add a header that includes your name and contact information, the date and the recipient's name and contact information. After addressing the recipient, you can add your full cover letter in the body, or you can include it as an attachment along with your resume. If you're including it as an attachment, write a few brief lines that thank the hiring manager for their time and explain that you've attached your cover letter and resume.

Tips for addressing a cover letter

Here are some tips you can follow when you address your cover letter:

Check the spelling

Review the spelling of the hiring manager's first and last name when including it in your cover letter. Proper spelling can show the recipient your attention to detail and ability to perform research. It's also a professional courtesy. If you're not sure of the spelling of someone's name, it's best to use a generic salutation.

Use an appropriate title

Some common titles that you might encounter include:

  • Dear Mr. Langman
  • Dear Mrs./Ms. Franklin
  • Dear Dr. Irving
  • Dear Sgt. Diaz

It's important to use the correct title to avoid any confusion. Always use a recipient's professional title, like 'Dr.' or 'Sgt.' over 'Mr.' or 'Mrs./Ms.' If you're unsure of the hiring manager's title, you can use their full name, for example, 'Dear Lamya Khalid.' Using their full name makes it clear exactly who you are addressing.

Use professional salutations

Stick to professional salutations, such as 'Dear.' Avoid using impersonal greetings like “Dear Sir or Madam,” which are outdated and overly formal. You should also refrain from using overly casual greetings such as 'Hi' or 'Hey.' Even if you get an informal response from a prospective employer, try to keep the greeting as professional at all times when you are corresponding.

Examples of how to address a cover letter

It's always acceptable to use “Dear Hiring Manager,” but there are also other options, such as:

  • Dear Finance Department
  • Dear Sales and Service Team
  • Dear Customer Service Manager
  • Dear [Insert Company Name] Recruiter
  • To the Marketing Department
  • Dear Head of Design

If you know the hiring manager's name, use it:

  • Dear Mr. James
  • Dear Allen Hernandez
  • Dear Ms. Sarah Smith
  • Dear Dr. Mosher

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