Professional Letter Greetings
When writing a letter for professional purposes, an appropriate greeting is extremely important. Your greeting sets the tone for your letter, and is an indicator of your written communication skills.
When deciding what salutation to use, you should consider if you know the person, and how well. If you are writing to someone in a professional capacity that you have known personally for many years, it is appropriate to use only their first name.
Otherwise, it is best to use Mr., Ms. or Dr. If you have any doubts about which salutation you should use, err on the side of caution and use the more formal style of address.
Try not to be tempted, if you do not know the name of your contact person, to begin your professional letter with informal salutations like “Hello,” “Greetings,” “Hi There,” or “Good Morning.” While these styles of greeting are fine for casual emails to friends or even for more formal emails you might send out to groups of people, in a professional letter you’ll need to use a personal salutation, one with either a first and/or last name (“Dear Mr. Doe”) or a job title (“Dear Hiring Manager”).
How to Find a Contact Person
If at all possible, use a contact name. This makes your letter more personal, and it creates an immediate relationship with the reader. If you don’t have a contact name, you can do some research to try to find out the right person to address your letter to.
Sometimes the name will be on the company website, or you may be able to find the right person on LinkedIn. One of your colleagues or contacts may know who the appropriate person would be. You can also call the office of the unknown person you are writing and ask the receptionist for their name by explaining your reason for calling (Example: “I am applying for a job with your company.
Can you please tell me the name of your Hiring Manager so that I know to whom to address my cover letter?”). It doesn’t take much extra time to make the attempt to find a name, and the sentiment it conveys is worth it.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just can’t find a name to address your letter to. In that case, you have a variety of choices, all of which are professional and appropriate. The more information you have about where you are sending the letter (for example, to the human resources department of the company, or to the manager of the department related to your inquiry) the better, more targeted choice you can make when selecting your greeting.
When you have a name, but are unsure of the gender of the person you are writing to, it is acceptable to leave out the honorific, and use the First and Last names alone.
Examples of Professional Letter Greetings
- Dear Firstname Lastname; e.g. Dear John Doe
- Dear Mr./Ms. Lastname; e.g. Dear Mr. Doe or Dear Ms. Doe
- Dear Mr./Ms. Firstname Lastname; e.g. Dear Mr. John Doe Dear Ms. Jane Doe
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear Sir or Madam
- To Whom It May Concern
- Dear Human Resources Manager
- Dear Company Name Recruiter; e.g. Dear ABC Company Recruiter
Tips for Writing a Professional Letter
After your greeting, you would begin your first paragraph, which is usually an introduction - letting the reader know who you are and what you are writing in regards to. If you have a mutual acquaintance who referred you, you should mention them at this time.
The body of your letter normally takes a paragraph or two. Here you can elaborate on the theme of your letter, providing supporting details to the subject. You will want to keep it concise, and pertinent to the person and the topic.
Your summary should include thanking the person for their time and consideration. If you plan to follow up, you can provide the details of when and how.
Finish your professional letter with a closing, such as “Sincerely” or “Regards.” In a letter is intended to be sent by postal service, your signature would be followed by your typed name.
In an email, your typed name would be followed by your contact information.