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Andrew Arkley|August 6, 2021

How To Address A Cover Letter With Real Life Examples

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Crafted a tailored job application that shows you’re perfect for the role? There’s one last step to impress employers – knowing how to address a cover letter correctly.

84% of recruiters say an impersonal application would make them likely to dismiss a candidate.

The first line of your cover letter makes an impression. Addressing the hiring manager directly shows straight away that you’ve done the research to tailor your application. But it’s not always easy to find the name you need.

In this blog, we’ll give you some strategies to find out how to address your cover letter. 83% of hiring managers say cover letters are important for their final hiring decision, so it’s vital to get it right to secure your dream position.

How to address a cover letter when you know the hiring manager

If you have the hiring manager’s first and last name, it’s easy to know how to address a cover letter. Use their full name to greet them in your cover letter’s first line, like the following examples:

  • ‘Dear John Brown,’
  • ‘Dear Mary Smith,’

Make sure the name you have is for the hiring manager, not a corporate recruiter. Some recruiters say that they don’t read cover letters, as they’re handling a huge number of candidates.

They will typically look at CVs to send the hiring manager a narrowed list of applicants, along with their cover letters. The hiring manager will make the final decision, so address your letter to them.

Using titles when addressing your cover letter

The traditional answer for how to address a cover letter is to use a full name with a formal title, such as ‘Dear Mr. John Brown’ or ‘Dear Ms. Mary Smith.’

But it’s not always easy to tell gender from a name. If it’s at all unclear, it’s much better to simply address your letter with the person’s full name, as in our first examples.

If you need to find which title to use, search the person and their company on LinkedIn and look for their headshot. You might also find the person’s image on ‘Meet The Team’ or similar sections of company websites.

Keep a lookout for any professional titles the hiring manager holds, such as ‘Dr.’ or ‘Prof.’ Not only will using these show you’ve done your research, they’re also a sign of respect.

Find the name you need to address your cover letter

Often, you don’t know how to address a cover letter because you don’t have a name to use. But don’t worry – we have some tricks up our sleeve.

The first step is to check the job listing. You can also use a CTRL + F search to look for any @ symbols in the listing. This will bring up email addresses, which could contain the name you need.

If you can’t find any answers, it’s time to get searching. Start by checking if the job description lists the position you’ll report to.

You can use this job title to conduct a Google search operator search. This will bring up any places where the title is mentioned on the company website, so you can see if there’s a name associated with them.

Just fill in the fields and enter the following search in Google: “[position you’re reporting to]” site:company website.

Try searching LinkedIn, too. The social network lets you filter searches for Title and Current Company. To do this, enter your search, choose ‘People’ and look under ‘All Filters.’

What to do when you don’t know who you’ll report to

If you don’t know who you’re reporting to, try to find the head of the position’s department using the same techniques. 

It’s better to address the letter higher up than needed, and will show you’ve done your research.

Finally, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Call the company, tell them what position you’re applying for, and ask who to address your cover letter to. Your initiative could leave a lasting impression.

How to address a cover letter when you can’t find a name

If all your searches have come to a dead-end – or if you’re writing a speculative cover letter where you have no job listing to refer to – you can still address a cover letter in a personalised way.

Try referencing the role or the department in your greeting. This could look like ‘Dear Marketing Executive Hiring Manager’, ‘Dear HR Department’ or ‘Dear Head of Accounting.’

If you still can’t find any information, don’t use ‘To Whom It May Concern’ – it’s now seen as dated, not to mention generic.

40% of hiring managers prefer ‘Dear Hiring Manager.’ It’s also gender-neutral, unlike Dear Sir or Madam, so it’s a safe option if you can’t find any role information and don’t know how to address a cover letter.

Conclusion

You now know how to address a cover letter in a personalised way that employers will love. But it’s not always easy to find the information you need.

At PurpleCV, we know how time-consuming the job application process can be. If you need a helping hand, our team of professional writers can create you a bespoke CV

We’ll make your skills shine, so you can get your cover letter in front of the people you need.

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