How To Use “Dear Hiring Manager” On Your Cover Letter

By Ryan Morris - Feb. 11, 2021

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There are lots of big, sweeping questions in the world of job hunting.

Take the question, “how do I address my cover letter?” for example.

In the grand scheme of things, this one seems pretty easy. You’ve got to have a greeting, and then a name or a title. Fairly hard to mess up, wouldn’t you say?

Well, you’d be wrong. It’s not always easy to find the person the company wants you to send your resume and cover letter to. While you should do your best to find a person’s name, using “Dear Hiring Manager” might be your best bet in certain scenarios.

Addressing your cover letter professionally is crucial for making a good first impression and catching the eye of hiring managers and recruiters.

We’ll walk you through how to address your cover letter, provide tips to help you decide which greeting to use, and provide examples of the different options for addressing your cover letter.

Why Addressing Your Cover Letter Correctly Is Important

People react to greetings in different ways, depending on the context.

Let’s say you’re a 35-year-old adult man, a business owner with children. If you walk into the front door of your house to hear your children scream “Daddy’s home” and then rush to hug your leg, you’d think it was cute, sweet, maybe a little annoying at worst.

Now imagine any one of your employees doing that when you walked into the office. It’s a little different, right?

That’s an extreme example, but people can often have big reactions to even small nuances in behavior depending on the context — and those reactions are only exacerbated in a situation as stressful as a job application.

This is because the person on the other end of the line — the hiring manager, recruiter, or whoever has to sift through the mountain of other applications to find yours — has no obligation to you whatsoever.

That means that if something about the way that you greet them turns them off to you as a candidate, they can just decide not to contact you.

You’ve got one small chance to prove that you’re worthy of their attention, and you have to go into your application and cover letter with the understanding that a hiring manager could stop reading at any time.

So you have to do everything in your power to make sure that they don’t do that.

How To Use “Dear Hiring Manager” On Your Cover Letter?

Victor Williams
President/Founder of Resume Scribes

In an era of gender/pronoun consciousness and awareness, “Dear Hiring Manager” represents the modern and appropriate salutation on a cover letter in the absence of a known name. Dear Hiring Manager is a gender/pronoun neutral salutation that does not alienate or offend the reader.

Can I Use “Dear Hiring Manager” on My Cover Letter?

Yes, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager” on your cover letter. While it’s entirely professional, it’s also super generic. You should only use it if you can’t find the name of the recipient despite your best efforts.

The best way to ensure that your cover letter gets read in its entirety is to start it off on the right foot.

That means being professional and appearing knowledgeable. If you can catch the hiring manager’s attention by using their name, or by otherwise using the information at your disposal to subtly indicate that you’re well-informed, you’ll come off as a well-qualified job candidate.

Avoid casual greetings at all costs. You can be approachable in your interview. Here, you’re trying to look as businesslike as you can.

There’s an order of operations that should be followed every time you go to address a cover letter, and which step of the process you eventually settle on should depend on what kind of information you have available.

Here are the steps you should take any time you go to address a cover letter — your goal is to stop at the earliest step you can manage:

  1. Start with what you know. Do you know their name? How about their gender and preferred pronouns? If so, then address the letter to “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.” followed by just their last name. This is the most preferred method of address — it’s personal and unpretentious.

  2. Don’t assume too much. Don’t know their gender? Still use “Dear” to address the letter, but instead of using just the last name, used your contact’s full name. It’s still personal, perhaps a little less “professional,” but it’s better than being presumptuous.

  3. Last resort. If all else fails, then just writing “Dear Hiring Manager” is acceptable, but be aware that a name is preferred in almost all cases.

  4. Consider alternatives. “To Whom It May Concern” might be your first instinct, but as salutations go, “Dear” is a warmer and more congenial way to address someone. “To Whom” sounds a little robotic, and is never a good option. We’ll cover other alternatives below.

Examples of How to Address a Cover Letter

Here’s a good example of following the above process, starting at a place of having full information about your contact and ending up at a place where you don’t even know if the person reading your resume is just a robot.

  • Full knowledge: “Dear Mrs. Belvedere”

  • Name known, no known gender or gender is non-binary: “Dear Ramona Belvedere”

  • Gender known, no name: “Dear Mrs.”

  • When you know that they’re a doctor: “Dear Dr. Belvedere”

  • When they’re a doctor but not an MD: “Dear Professor Belvedere”

  • When you don’t know who they are at all: “Dear Hiring Manager”

How to Find the Hiring Manager

We’ve got a whole article about how to find the hiring manager, but we’ll cover the steps briefly here:

  1. Check the job advertisement. Sounds like an obvious first step, but we have to start somewhere. If you can’t find a full name, check the email address they want you to send your application to.

    If it indicates an individual, use that information in the following steps. (Sometimes it’ll be really obvious though, like jon.williams@gmail.com).

  2. Check the company’s website. Either look at the job application section or the “about us” page. You can sometimes find more information about department heads here. See if any names align with the email address provided in the job opening.

  3. Call the company. Finding the right number to call might be tricky, but once you reach someone in HR or the front desk, they should be able to help you out. Mention the job posting and ask for the hiring manager’s name — easy peasy.

  4. Use LinkedIn. Look for the company’s employees on LinkedIn. You might not be able to definitively determine the hiring manager from your research alone, but you might find somebody you can ask.

    For example, an HR head or someone who works in the department you’re interested in.

  5. Use an inside source. If you have a friend in the company, we’re surprised you’ve made it this long without reaching out to them!

    People like to help, and if this person is an internal reference for you as well, they surely want you to make the best impression. That means avoiding “Dear Hiring Manager” if you can.

Tips for Using “Dear Hiring Manager”

If you’ve tried everything and still can’t find the hiring manager’s name or a relevant department head, it’s not the worst thing to use “Dear Hiring Manager.” However, you should keep these tips in mind if you do:

  • Customize your cover letter. “Dear Hiring Manager” is about as generic as it gets as far as salutations go. Don’t let the rest of your cover letter be equally generic. Otherwise, the recipient may think you’ve just copy-pasted this cover letter all around town, which is always a turn off for employers.

    Open with a strong first sentence and use the body to express your enthusiasm for the specific job and company. Cover your most significant qualifications and accomplishments. Utilize keywords from the job description when discussing your skills and relevant experience.

  • Use a clear subject line. Most cover letters are sent via email these days. Since you couldn’t find the hiring manager’s name, it’s likely you’re sending it to a generic, company-wide, job application email address.

    Ensure that your subject link provides a clear explanation of why you’re writing. The standard “[Full Name] – _______ Position” is a safe bet.

  • Send from a professional email address. Your email might look a bit spammy with “Dear Hiring Manager” — don’t compound the recipient’s instinct to immediately delete your email by sending it from blink182fan@aim.com.

    Choose a professional email address, but be careful of using one tied to your current place of employment. They may be able to see your activities, and that would be awkward.

Alternatives to “Dear Hiring Manager”

We’re going to start off by reiterating that “To Whom It May Concern” is never an option. That said, “Dear Hiring Manager” isn’t the only choice you have available. In a scenario where you’re reaching out to a recruiter or a recruiting team, it might actually sound odd to address your cover letter to the hiring manager.

Let’s take a look at other appropriate ways to start your cover letter when you don’t know the recipient’s name:

  • Dear Recruiter

  • Dear Recruitment Team

  • Dear Hiring Team

  • Dear [Department] Manager

  • Dear [Department]

  • Dear Recruitment Committee

  • Dear Hiring Committee

  • Dear Recruiting Manager

  • Dear HR

  • Dear Human Resources

  • Dear [Title of person you’d report to]

Final Thoughts

That’s the long and short of it. Follow this process and you’ll never go wrong when it comes to addressing your cover letter.

While you should always try your best to find the hiring manager’s name and address your cover letter personally, it’s not always possible.

Just remember the other do’s and dont’s of cover letter formatting and professional letter writing. Keep your cover letter to one page with three to four paragraphs. Show enthusiasm for and knowledge of the role, emphasize your qualifications and accomplishments, and use language from the job description.

Draft a few sample cover letters before hitting “send,” and you’re certain to be called in for a job interview.

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Ryan Morris

Author

Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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