Addressing your cover letter

Writing a cover letter in general is difficult. However beginning one may be the hardest part.  Who are you sending it to?  What is his or her name? What if you can't find the name of the person it needs to go to? Is "To whom it may concern" to generic? So many questions, but where are the answers?!  Right here!

Why is using "To whom it may concern" a bad idea?

Do you know how many times employers have seen that?  Too many times.  If you are applying for a job, you should know who the cover letter and resume need to be sent to.  If it does not say in the posting, you may have to do a little extra work by going on the company's website to look up the department and the head of that department. By personalizing the letter it shows that you took the time to find out who the letter goes to and that you really want the job.

What should you use instead?

1. The hiring manager's name

Usually the HR manager is the person who takes care of the cover letters and resumes.  Therefore it is best to send it to him or her directly.

2. The department head's name

If you cannot find the name of the HR director or manager, the next best option is finding the head of the department in which you are applying for.

3. The name of the department

Still can't find a name? Using the name of the department is the next step.

4. "Hiring manager/human resource director"

Not sure which department the job you are applying for is part of?  You can address the letter by being very generic and saying "Dear Human Resource Director" ....

5. Specified name

The best option, but an option that is not always provided, is directing the letter toward the name provided in the job listing.


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