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How to Address a Cover Letter With a Name

The best way to address a cover letter is to establish a personal connection by using the name of the person who will make the hiring decision. By addressing the hiring manager by name, you demonstrate you took the time to tailor your cover letter to the job posting.

Once you have the hiring manager’s name, the most recommended way to address them is with “Dear” followed by their full name. Since we don’t always know a person’s gender, using their full name is the safest option. For example:

  • Dear Walter Suárez,
  • Dear Priya Hamid,

If you are confident of the person’s gender, you can use “Mr.” or “Ms.” Avoid using “Mrs.” or “Miss” unless you know their marital status or preferred title. Follow their title with their last name. For example:

  • Dear Mr. Suárez,
  • Dear Ms. Hamid,
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Never use “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” as they’re considered outdated and impersonal.

How to address a cover letter with a professional title

If the hiring manager has a professional or academic title, show respect by addressing them with that title. For example, if Priya Hamid is a licensed physician, it’s more appropriate to address her as “Dr. Hamid” instead of “Ms. Hamid.” Make sure to corroborate if a person has a professional or academic title.

Some professional titles include:

  • Reverend (Rev.)
  • Sergeant (Sgt.)
  • Honorable (Hon.)
  • Professor (Prof.)
  • Senator (Sen.)

Three ways to find the name of the recipient

Every element of your job application is part of the effort to sell yourself. Learning the hiring person’s name is one way to give yourself an advantage over other applicants. Doing a little research shows you’ve got passion and you’re the kind of person who takes the initiative to solve problems.

Here are three quick steps you can take:

  • Read the job listing carefully: Always pay attention to the job posting because there’s a chance the hiring manager’s name is included. Read the small print at the bottom; it might be there.

  • Search online: If the job listing is a dead end, the next step is to research a company’s website or LinkedIn. Most company’s websites feature the names of department heads, and LinkedIn can offer information on the people who work there. A third alternative is a targeted Google search with the email provided and company name.

  • Pick up the phone: As a last resort, you can always call the company and explain you’re applying for a job and want to address the cover letter to the correct person. This shows you’re proactive.

How to Address a Cover Letter Without a Name

Despite trying the steps listed above, there will be times when you can’t find the name of the person you’re sending your cover letter to — but you still need a professional way to address your letter.

You can always begin your letter with “Dear Hiring Manager,” and rest assured you won’t ruffle any feathers. It’s not ideal, but it’s also the kind of neutral language that won’t raise eyebrows.

The second option is to address your cover letter to the department you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying for a role in the finance department, you can write your salutation as follows:

  • Dear Finance Department Hiring Team,
  • Dear Finance Department Manager,
  • Dear [Company Name] Finance Department,

How to Address an Email Cover Letter

If you’re wondering how to address someone in a cover letter sent by email, don’t fret. It’s almost the same cover letter format as the written version. The most significant difference is the subject line.

Hiring managers receive dozens, if not hundreds, of emails daily. The best way to ensure your cover letter gets opened is to write a brief and precise subject line, about six to ten words. The subject line should include the position you’re applying for and your name. If someone referred you, add it as well.

Here’s how it would look:

  • Carol Smith – Accounting Assistant Job Application
  • Carol Smith – Accounting Assistant Job Application, referred by Evelyn Ramírez

Inside the body of the email, leave out the date and the address of the person you are writing to; instead, begin with your salutation. Ensure you add all your contact information in your email signature.

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Key Takeaways

When writing a cover letter, attention to detail is as crucial as crafting your resume. It requires research and effort to present yourself as the ideal candidate.

Let’s go over the five key takeaways of how to address the hiring manager in a cover letter:

  • Be respectful: Always use the formal “Dear” when addressing someone in a cover letter.
  • When in doubt, use their full name: Don’t try to guess someone’s gender. Use their first and last names if you don’t know their preferred pronouns.
  • If they have a professional title, use it: The person worked hard for years to earn that title. It’s always best to include it.
  • Take initiative: If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, take the time to research it. Establishing that personal connection will make a difference.
  • Remember the subject line: Ensure your cover letter gets noticed in the hiring manager’s email box with a brief and precise subject line.