Here’s How to Address Your Cover Letter to HR (It’s Not “To Whom It May Concern”)
Want a free resume critique?
Have one of our senior resume writers give you personalized feedback on the top 3 things holding your resume back!
There are a few factors you need to examine when deciding how to address a cover letter to HR. This article will walk you through how to decide who to address your cover letter to, how to write a formal salutation to them (plus what to do if you can’t find the right person), and what constitutes a proper cover letter heading.
Who Do I Address My Cover Letter To?
Some job postings are kind enough to list the person to whom your application will be sent. In this case, you’re all set! You have the staff member’s name and can address the person formally now.
However, if the name isn’t listed up front, head to the company website to find the name of the hiring manager. Most companies have some sort of “About Us” or “Who We Are” page, and this page tends to list the higher-ups if not the full staff. More comprehensive sites may allow you to search by program or department. Some “Contact Us” pages also contain further information on staff and should at least offer a phone number to help you find out.
If you’re not finding the hiring manager’s information within the site, take a step back to your search engine and type in the name of the company next to “hiring manager.” It’s worth a try since this may pull up the correct link for you, bypassing the process of exhaustively searching through the website itself.
If that didn’t turn up any results, head over to the job seeker’s best friend: LinkedIn. Search LinkedIn for the name of the company and “hiring manager.” You might find recruiters and “talent acquisition partners” as well. One of these people may be the one who will read your application, and even if not, you can still reach out to them to find out who will.
Research, research, research. If you still aren’t completely certain of who the hiring manager is, use the name of the closest applicable person as you address the cover letter.
This could be someone in a senior HR position or even the head of the department you’re applying to. In any case, this is better than not using a name at all!
How to Properly Address a Cover Letter to HR
When you begin to write, be sure to get the correct spelling and gender of the name of the hiring manager (or whoever you’re writing to.) Names are easy since you can copy and paste them, but if the staff member’s gender is unknown, make the effort to find out. (No one likes being misgendered!)
The experts are in agreement: if you do not know the person’s gender, leave off the salutation and simply use their full name. However, when possible, you do want to use “a formal full name salutation,” eg. “Dear Ms. Anna Peregrine,” or “Hello, Mr. Armend Fazlic.”
The word “dear” is still the most popular, and adding formality shows respect.
(PSA: “Ms.” is always the safest option for female hiring managers unless you know for a fact that they are married.)
If you’ve found a name and can address them formally by this point, great! Start working on the content of your cover letter, making sure that you don’t make it too long or fall into common mistakes.
If you can’t find any of the necessary information online, though, you can always take a more active approach and call the company to request the name of the hiring manager.
Avoid “To Whom It May Concern” on Your Cover Letter
Feeling good about your cover letter? Good! You should be! You’re on track to being hired.
But wait, you still can’t find what you need? Don’t sweat.
In the case that the company’s website is incomplete and you can’t get a hold of the information over the phone, use a formal greeting to the position of the person you believe will read the cover letter. Address the letter to the best title for the unidentified staff member. (For example, “Dear Hiring Manager,” “Dear Human Resources Director,” or “Dear Talent Acquisition Lead.”)
At Let’s Eat, Grandma, we advise not using the general cover letter greeting “To whom it may concern.” This language is too generic. (We aren’t fans of “Dear Sir or Madam” for similar reasons, plus it sounds too old fashioned for 2020. Indeed agrees with us.)
Alternative Cover Letter Greetings With No Name
Even if you are sending out application after application, take the time to research the HR department for specifics if you are serious about getting a job at that company. But if you truly couldn’t find anyone, you’ll be okay with a cover letter salutation with no name.
Just don’t be vague. Even “Dear Hiring Manager” is better than “To whom it may concern,” on a cover letter, though the more specific the position is, the better.
What’s the Proper Cover Letter Heading?
Congratulations! You’ve successfully addressed your cover letter. The opening salutation of your cover letter may seem like a small detail, but acknowledging the correct person goes a long way.
Next up, you’ll want to perfect your cover letter heading! You’ve probably seen examples of cover letters with lengthy details of your contact information and the company’s at the top, like this:
We believe that you don’t need all of that.
Cover letters are meant to explain why you’re a good fit for the position, and if the hiring manager is only going to skim the letter, why bulk up the page with irrelevant information? HR isn’t going to visit your house in person or use snail mail to communicate about the job, so cut that content.
Adding your email address and phone number either beneath your signature at the bottom or including them along with your City, ST in a subtle header like this is more than sufficient.
You can even use the same 2-line header from the top of your resume! This will help the hiring manager identify your cover letter when it’s printed, as well as making you look more professional with matching documents.
Acknowledge the hiring manager and the position you’re applying for, and then jump into why the company should hire you!
Want to see an example cover letter for your industry? Check them out here.
You’re also welcome to contact us here with your cover letter questions. Find out how we can rewrite your cover letter (and more) to put your best foot forward for your upcoming job search. Schedule a call with us to find out how our professional writers can help rework your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to land you that dream job.
Ready for more job search help?
Sign up for a free Senior Writer Resume Critique to see what's holding you back from landing interviews. One of our top professional resume writers will give you personalized feedback on the top 3 items you can improve based on our expert practices!