How to Address a Cover Letter in 2021

23 July
2 min read

Best Tips - How to Address a Cover Letter

You’ve managed to find the perfect job, and you’ve decided to include a cover letter (good choice!). You stare at the blank screen, and a sense of panic takes over. How do you even start your cover letter?

Many people fall into the trap of addressing their cover letter “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” and this is a huge mistake. Don’t forget; this is the first interaction the hiring manager will have with you. You don’t want to have a generic greeting that could be intended for anyone.  

Hiring managers and recruiters like to see that you’ve taken the time to do your research. Your cover letter should be customized for the job you are applying for, even down to the salutation. 

This first impression can make or break your chances of getting an interview. Follow the tips below, and you’ll be well on your way to crafting a memorable cover letter

Cover Letter Salutation - Casual or Formal?

Even if you know a company culture is more casual, it may serve you well to keep the cover letter salutation more formal. Many people will appreciate the formality.

Sometimes a recruiter may screen the applications for an organization, and they may prefer a formal greeting, even though the company may be more casual. Include “Mr.” or “Ms.” when addressing a cover letter (e.g.: Ms. Jane Doe). 

Some people like to use “Dear” or “Hello” before the full name. There’s nothing wrong with using those greetings, but many hiring managers do not have a lot of time, and it is important to keep your cover letter concise.

In the spirit of brevity, it’s much simpler to just drop the greeting and address your letter to the name of the hiring manager. 

If you’ve done your research and cannot tell whether this person is a “Mr.” or “Ms.,” then eliminate the title completely and use only the full name (e.g.: Jane Doe). 

What if I Don’t Know the Name of the Manager/Supervisor?

If you can’t find the name of the hiring manager or recruiter that will receive your application, there are some strategies to address a vague salutation without appearing careless. 

In many instances, you will know the team that you are applying to. In that case, you may want to address your cover letter as “Customer Service Hiring Team” or “Hello Customer Service Hiring Manager” to maintain a level of customization.  

A recruiter or hiring manager can identify when you are just sending out a mass amount of cover letters to see what sticks.

They like to see that you’ve taken the time to write a letter that is tailored directly to them. As they’re sifting through dozens, even hundreds, of applications — they only have a few brief minutes (if that) to review your cover letter.

A strong salutation can grab their attention and get them reading. 

How Should I Format my Cover Letter?

Once you’ve landed on the salutation, it’s important to format the cover letter in professional way.

You should always include your information first followed by the hiring manager’s information. Include your name, title, address, phone and email.

Then you’ll want to include the hiring manager’s company, name, title and address followed by the date. If you don’t know the company’s address or email, it’s okay to exclude that information.

Then begin your salutation and flow into the content of your cover letter. See the example below:

how to address a cover letter example

The key when addressing your cover letter is to ensure you have all the information and that the information you have is accurate.

The way you design or display these fields is much less important than making sure they are accounted for in your letter. 

Addressing your cover letter correctly leaves behind a great first impression for the hiring manager and can get you even closer to landing that interview. 

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