Who To Address Cover Letter To If Unknown (With Examples)

By Heidi Cope and Experts
Jun. 7, 2022

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Writing the body of a cover letter is difficult enough without the added challenge of not knowing who to address it to.

Since such a significant part of the job search and application process is now automated, it can be difficult to find out who is going to be reading your application. This isn’t necessarily a problem until you need to write a recipient’s name in your cover letter salutation.

If you’re struggling to figure out who to address your cover letter to, keep reading. We’ll give you some tips and examples that you can use to make your cover letter’s opening lines as strong as possible — even without a name.

Who to Address Cover Letter To if Unknown

Examples of How to Address a Cover Letter if You Don’t Know the Recipient’s Name

If you are applying to a small company, a startup, or a local business, chances are good that you will probably find a name to address a cover letter to. If you are applying through online job sites or to a federal job, you may never know the name of the hiring manager until you are contacted about your application.

Not knowing who to address the cover letter to doesn’t mean you have free reign to just say, “Dear person who will read this” or “Good morning!” as your greeting on a cover letter. There are preferred ways to address a cover letter if you don’t know who the cover letter will be read by.

  • Dear Sir or Madam

  • Dear Hiring Manager

  • Dear Talent Acquisition Team

  • Dear [Company Name] HR Department

  • Dear [Company name] Hiring Manager

  • Dear Human Resources Manager

  • Dear Human Resources Department

  • Dear [Company Name] Recruiter

  • Dear [Department Name] Hiring Manager

  • Dear [Department Name] Hiring Team


By using these greetings to address your cover letters, you will avoid major problems. For example, all of the above greetings don’t assume a specific gender, can be used regardless of honorific the person may hold, and are professional.

They also don’t sound like you are writing to your grandmother about your vacation. These greetings will look professional and well put together, making them an excellent start to any cover letter.

We recommend always being as specific as you possibly can. For example, if you know your cover letter will be read by the hiring manager for the marketing team, use “Dear Marketing Hiring Manager” instead of just “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Also, don’t assume someone from human resources will be the hiring manager unless your research indicates that’s the case. While reaching out to HR might be the best way to find the name of your cover letter recipient, there’s no guarantee that that person works in HR.

What to Avoid When Addressing a Cover Letter to an Unknown Recipient

Here are some things you should try to avoid when addressing a cover letter to an unknown recipient:

  1. Assuming the person is a certain gender. If in doubt, just use their full name. For example, instead of saying, “Dear Ms. Hopkins,” you’d say, “Dear Alex Hopkins.”

  2. Assuming the person’s marital status. Avoid using the titles of “Miss” or “Mrs.” before someone’s name before you know for sure what they prefer. Instead, use “Ms.” or simply stick to their full name.

  3. Addressing the reader as if you were addressing a friend. Your cover letter can be friendly, but it should still be professional, erring on the side of formal. Using words like “hi,” and “hello,” or using exclamation marks is simply too casual and familiar for a cover letter.

  4. Not addressing the reader at all. Not including a greeting is just as bad as using the wrong one.

    Not only does it look like you didn’t put in any effort at all to find out who you’re writing to, but it also looks like you just copied and pasted your cover letter for multiple applications, which hiring managers do not want to see.

Here are some examples of how not to address a cover letter:

  • Good Morning

  • To Whom It May Concern

  • Dear Mrs. Smith

  • Hi Sebastian!

  • Hey Sales Team

The Importance of Addressing Your Cover Letter Correctly

When applying for jobs, one of the most important things you can do is find a way to make sure your name, face, or correspondence matches up with your application.

So when hiring managers sort through a pile of sometimes hundreds of applicants, they can say, “Oh yeah, this person contacted us the other day and seemed great and professional — let’s see what their application looks like.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that calling the HR department of the place you are applying to 24/7 is a good idea. You don’t want to seem needy or impatient. But you can still show that you are genuinely interested in the position by attempting to find out who will read your cover letter.

Making an effort to find out who the recipient of your cover letter will go to, especially if that information is easily available, shows that you have a real interest in the position. You are willing to take an extra few minutes to do some digging to make sure your application stands out.

How to Find Out Who to Address Your Cover Letter To

There are a few ways to go about finding who you should address your cover letter to. One simple way is to look at the application and double-check that the hiring manager’s name isn’t on the main listing.

Sometimes the information isn’t on the application, but rather on the job listing. If it isn’t there you will then have to start doing a little bit more investigative work.

You can check on LinkedIn and on the company’s website to find the hiring manager’s name. If nothing shows up, then you will have to start contacting someone at the company to find out.

Now, this does not mean you should contact some random person at the company who lists the company’s name on their profile. Find the contact information for the HR department, for someone who works in HR, or for the head of the department you are trying to work in and ask them if they know the name of the hiring manager for your application.

Sometimes, they will not give this information, simply so that the hiring manager can stay anonymous and not get a billion emails from applicants. This situation is more likely to happen with massive companies like Google or Apple.

If they give you a name, use it. If they don’t, then you will have to then move on to the next step of figuring out how to address a cover letter to an unknown recipient.

Tips for Addressing a Cover Letter

Here are some tips for addressing a cover letter:

  • Attempt to find out who your cover letter will be read by.

  • Use the person’s title (Dr./Ms./Prof./etc.); use Ms., not Miss.

  • For non-gender-specific names, use the recipient’s full name.

  • Always use “Dear” to start your address

  • If you cannot find the name of the hiring manager/reader, use a generic greeting to address your cover letter.

  • Be as specific with your generic greeting as you can be.

  • Make sure your greeting sounds professional and appropriate for the position.

How to write a cover letter

Example Cover Letter

Remember that cover letters should be short and tailored for each individual job.

When emailing your cover letter, make sure the subject line is clear and direct. Identify the job you’re applying for and yourself so that the recipient knows who you are and what you want right away.

After your greeting, let the reader know what position you’re applying for.

Then, get into the body of your letter by highlighting your most impressive key skills, qualifications, and professional experience. Let the reader know what value you’ll bring to the new job. Also, emphasize your enthusiasm for the specific company.

Use a call-to-action like “I look forward to hearing from you.” Finish by thanking the reader for their time and consideration and sign off with a proper email closing and signature.

Subject Line: Malia Freeman – Junior Sales Representative

Dear Sales Team Hiring Manager,

As a fan of XYZ Inc.’s impressive technology products, I was ecstatic to see an opening for a Junior Sales Representative. After reading the job description, I am confident that I’m the right person for the job.

With 4 years of experience selling cloud computing products and services, I would bring a unique perspective to the role. In my current role as a Sales Representative at ABC Corp., I’ve created technology presentations for all my clients, driving interest in new product sales and subscriptions by 84% year-over-year. Additionally, I’ve reduced the cost of customer acquisition by over 15% and consistently topped sales quotas by over 20% since starting at ABC.

I know XYZ has amazing products and services that I would be honored to promote and sell. With my background in cloud computing, I would be able to hit the ground running and communicate your product’s benefits to customers.

Please contact me if you have any further questions about my application or resume. I look forward to speaking with the Sales Team more about the role in an interview. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Malia Freeman

malia.freeman@gmail.com
555-777-9999

FAQs

  1. Who do I address my cover letter to if there is no contact name?

    Address your cover letter to “Hiring Manager” or “[Deparment Name] Hiring Manager.” Always do whatever you can to try to find the name of the person you’re addressing, but if you can’t, address it to the generic position or team you’re trying to get in contact with.

  2. Is To Whom It May Concern rude?

    Yes, To Whom It May Concern is rude. Not everyone will agree that it’s rude, but many people do find it rude, or at least impersonal and lazy on a cover letter, so it’s best to avoid this greeting

  3. Is it OK to use Dear Hiring Manager?

    Yes, it is okay to use Dear Hiring Manager as a cover letter greeting.

    It’s always best to address your cover letter to someone by name if you can find it, but many times you can’t. In this case, “Dear Hiring Manager,” is an appropriate greeting.

Final Thoughts

If you are applying for a job and writing a cover letter, make sure you take the time to look over all the details in the cover letter. Not taking the time to look for the recipient of a cover letter or using a professional greeting will look lazy.

Your greeting is a small part of the cover letter. However, it’s one of the most important pieces because it’s the first thing the hiring managers will read. Using an appropriate generic greeting will set the tone for your cover letter, making you sound professional and willing to put in the effort to make your cover letter flawless.

Now that you know how to address a cover letter if the reader is the recipient is unknown, check out our other articles about cover letters and the job application process.

Applying for jobs can be stressful and tedious, but taking the time to learn tips on how to improve your application will help put you one step closer to landing your dream job.

Ask the Experts

Who To Address Cover Letter To If Unknown

Vimari Roman
Career Strategist Coach
Be Productive Coaching

My recommendation is to always send a customized cover letter when applying for any job and when in doubt, address your letter to the hiring team using “Dear Hiring Team.” In most cases the application will end up on a recruiter’s or an HR Business Partner’s desk, and if they like your cover letter and resume, then they will pass it on to the hiring manager or the hiring team. By addressing your letter to the “team” you’ve got everyone covered and they will all feel as if the letter was written directly to them.

Expert Tip To Find Contact Infoformation

Sally Mikhail
Founder of Recruit Petra LLC

Use LinkedIn to find out who to address your cover letter to you with a search of company personnel on the company careers page. However, if you are sending out a cover letter to an unknown hiring influence, you can address it to “Dear Hiring Team” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Who To Address Cover Letter To If Unknown Tip

Chelsea Jay
Certified Resume Writer and Career Coach

Make sure that you review the company’s “About Me” or “Staff” to view their leaders which often lists direct managers, HR professionals, and executive leadership staff. If you know what department you’ll be working for, I recommend addressing the leader of that department. If the website is for a larger organization and does not list individual staff, I recommend utilizing LinkedIn. You can do a quick company search and find employees who are currently working there. You may even find the original posting with the hiring manager’s name attached.

If you cannot find the hiring manager’s name based on the posting, I recommend taking time to learn more about the specific department you’ll be working in. For example, if you discover that you’ll be working in the Communications department, the next step would be to learn about the specific team you’ll be part of. If you find out that it is the Public Affairs team, I encourage you to address “Public Affairs Team” at the beginning of your cover letter.

If you’re up for a bolder approach that is sure to get attention, address someone on the executive leadership team. I recommend addressing the President or Vice President of the organization (they should be easy to find since they are often the “face” of the organization). Of course, address them with a salutation along with their first name, last name, and title. In the beginning of the cover letter make sure to distinguish what department and position you are applying for. For example, Dear Mr. John Smith, President.

As an applicant, your goal is to stand out and showcase that you are informed and willing to go the extra mile (by doing research!).

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Author

Heidi Cope

Heidi Cope is a former writer for the Zippia Career Advice blog. Her writing focused primarily on Zippia's suite of rankings and general career advice. After leaving Zippia, Heidi joined The Mighty as a writer and editor, among other positions. She received her BS from UNC Charlotte in German Studies.

Expert

Matt Warzel, CPRW, CIR

Matt Warzel a President of a resume writing firm (MJW Careers, LLC) with 15+ years of recruitment, outplacement, career coaching and resume writing experience. Matt is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing Focus) from John Carroll University.

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