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The Cover Letter Salutation

How eager are you to read something from your home mailbox addressed, “Resident?” If you are not using a name when you write a cover letter, your message may not elicit the initial response that you desire. It is ideal to include the name of the HR manager or hiring manager on your cover letter or email message. In most cases you can find the appropriate name. There are a few exceptions, such as a time when you are replying to a blind posting (a posting in which the employer is not identified) or a time when you are instructed to address the letter to a job title.

If the name of the HR manager or hiring manager is not mentioned in the job posting, there are several ways that you can uncover this information.

Try these methods:

  • The Employer’s Website: Search for a “careers” page or a section of the website that pertains to your target department or division.

  • Search Engine: Use search terms such as the department name, manager’s job title, and company name.

  • Employer’s Main Number: Call the employer’s main telephone number and ask the receptionist for the name of the manager that oversees the department in which the job in question would fall.

  • LinkedIn: You may search for someone using a title and/or company name. You might also find that some of your connections are connected to someone in the company. That person can provide information to help you identify the HR manager or hiring manager’s name.

  • Real World Networking: Tap into your personal network and you may find name, and possibly a backdoor to an interview. Talk to colleagues within professional associations, former co-workers, and other industry contacts to get lead to the name you are seeking.

Gone are the days when it is acceptable to write a cover letter with a “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Not only do those openings sound old-fashioned; they are impersonal and do not help you make a connection. Make the effort to obtain the name of a real person to send your cover letter. Examples of proper salutations are “Dear Dr. Washington” or “Dear Ms. Cain.” If it is a blind posting, then you would use the salutation: “Dear Human Resources Director” so that you are respectful and as personal as possible in that situation.

If you have questions about your cover letter, please feel free to write me. I would be happy to help.


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