Help! Who Do I Address My Cover Letter to?

As Seen In:
Wall Street Journal cNet Forbes MarketWatch TheJobNetwork

You’re in the midst of your job search and find an opportunity that sounds like a great fit. The trouble? The posting doesn’t give you the hiring manager’s name. Or, even if it does, do you use their first name – or “Mrs.” “Ms.” or “Mr.” – in the salutation?

Getting it right is critically important when you consider that this is the first thing a hiring manager will see when they receive your cover letter. Here are some tips from the cover letter writers at ResumeSpice to help ensure you’re off to the best start:

Be formal

If you know a particular company culture is especially casual, it’s reasonable to use first names. However, in most cases, you should take a more business-like approach and use a formal salutation. This means starting your letter off with “Dear Mr. Smith,” or “Dear Ms. Carter.” If the hiring manager is female, don’t guess at marital status. Instead, always use “Ms.,” unless there’s another, more appropriate title, such as “Dr.”

Avoid the generic

If a specific name isn’t given, don’t address your letter with “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam,” which come off as dated. Instead, spend some time trying to find the hiring manager’s name. You can do this in a few ways:

  • If they included an email address (e.g.,, then Google it to try and find their full name and gender.
  • If the job posting states that the employee will report to the IT Director, then search for that person on Google or use the advanced search option on LinkedIn.
  • If you can’t find the information you need online, call the company. Your letter will stand out more if it’s addressed to an actual person, making the effort worth it.
  • If your search doesn’t yield any results, then use “Dear Hiring Manager.” Or you can use an approach that directs the letter to an entire team; for instance, “Dear Finance Department.”

Use full names if you’re not sure about gender

When the hiring manager’s name is “Fran Murray” or “Pat Jones,” it’s unclear whether “Ms.” or “Mr.” is the appropriate salutation. In these cases, Google them and see if you can find their LinkedIn profile or company bio page to determine gender. If you can’t, then include both the first and last name in your salutation; for instance, “Dear Fran Murray.”

At the end of the day, you don’t want the salutation of your letter to sabotage your ability to get called for an interview. Simply follow the tips above to ensure you start off right and then let your skills and accomplishments shine through in the rest of your letter.

Get professional help with your cover letter

At ResumeSpice, our professional cover letter writers can identify what makes you uniquely qualified for a role, then craft a letter that distinguishes you from other candidates. Call 832.930.7378 today to learn more or get started.