How to Address a Cover Letter

Options for Addressing a Cover Letter for a Job

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How to address a cover letter can be tricky if you are responding to a job ad and either don’t have a contact person’s name to include or don't know the hiring manager's gender. When you're not sure, it's better to be safe and use a generic greeting or none at all. It's acceptable to start a letter without a greeting.

How to Address a Cover Letter

Review these options for addressing cover letters when you're not sure to whom to address them.

If you don’t have a contact person at the company, you can either leave off the salutation from your cover letter and start with the first paragraph of your letter or use a general salutation.

When You Use a General Salutation

There a variety of cover letter salutations you can use to address your letter. In a survey of more than 2,000 companies, Saddleback College found that employers preferred the following greetings:

  • Dear Hiring Manager (40%)
  • To Whom It May Concern (27%)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (17%)
  • Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
  • Leave it blank (8%)

Once you have chosen a salutation, follow it with a colon or comma, a space, and then start the first paragraph of your letter. For example:

Dear Hiring Manager:

First paragraph of letter.

How to Address a Cover Letter for a Non-Gender Specific Name

If you do have a name but aren't sure of the person's gender, an option is to include both the first name and the last name in your salutation:

  • Dear Sydney Doe
  • Dear Taylor Smith

With these types of gender-ambiguous names, LinkedIn can be a helpful resource. Since many people include a photo with their profile, a simple search of the person's name and company within LinkedIn could potentially turn up the contact's photograph.

Cover Letter Examples

Here are examples of cover letters addressed to a hiring manager, cover letters with a contact person, and more samples to review.

How to Write a Cover Letter

This guide to writing cover letters has information on what to include in your cover letter, how to write a cover letter, cover letter format, targeted cover letters, and cover letter samples.

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