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How To Address A Cover Letter Properly: Best Practices

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Do you hate writing cover letters when applying for jobs?

Many people struggle to write a cover letter. With all of the information a new hire might want to give to a hiring manager about themselves and the openness of the document, it can be hard to start the draft in the first place.

Thankfully, there are plenty of social conventions out there in the business world that can help you learn how to address a cover letter.

Even if the rest of the letter will take some time, let’s review cover letter greetings to help get you started.

Why Is the Greeting in a Cover Letter Important?

The greeting you use in your cover matters for more than one reason. Some of those reasons are:

1. Shows Your Professionalism

Using the proper greeting when addressing your cover letter shows that you know who you want to speak to and what your intent is.

Showing respect and good info gathering will help you make an excellent first impression in the business world.

2. Makes a First Impression

The benefit of the length of the CV is that you have much more space than with a basic application to display your character and worth.

Starting strong with an appropriate and professional greeting puts the reader of the letter into a positive mindset from the beginning, setting you up for a better chance of success.

3. Sets the Tone for Your Cover Letter

One of the reasons why a cover letter is different than a resume is that a cover letter will have a different tone depending on who writes it and how the writer presents it.

Matching your greeting to your letter’s tone and the overall culture of the company you apply with will show that you can integrate yourself well with the people already working there.

How To Address a Cover Letter

Addressing your cover letter depends on what information you know about the recipient of your letter.

Let’s look at some of the situations you might be in while crafting your letter:

What Is the Proper Way to Address a Cover Letter?

The proper way to address a cover letter is with a short phrase of greetings followed by a comma.

The greetings act as your written introduction and the comma separates that greeting from the main body of the letter.

How Do You Address a Cover Letter to an Unknown Person?

If you don’t know who your letter will be read by, the age-old “To Whom It May Concern” makes sense.

It is better to address a specific hiring position or person to build up a rapport, though.

How To Address a Cover Letter if You Don’t Know the Hiring Manager

If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, you can address your letter with “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To (Company Name) Hiring Manager.

This shows that you know who you want to speak with, even if you don’t know their name.

How Do You Address a Cover Letter Without Mr. or Mrs.?

If you don’t know the gender or marital status of your recipient, addressing them by their full name or by their professional title also works.

Prefixes like Rev. and Dr. work regardless of gender, after all!

What Can I Say Instead of “Dear Hiring Manager?”

If the company has a different name for the hiring manager position, using that title over the generic of hiring manager works well.

Otherwise, you can opt for the full name of your recipient or something like “Dear Human Resources Director” or “Dear (Company) Recruiter.”

How To Address a Cover Letter without a Name for an Internship

If you don’t have the name of whom your internship cover letter goes, defaulting to the job title works well.

It shows that, though you don’t know the individual’s name, you understand the structure of the company and its hiring process.

How To Address a Cover Letter to a Large Company

Since large companies tend to have multiple people reviewing an application, a greeting that salutes a department works well.

How To Address a Cover Letter With a Name

If you have the name of the cover letter’s desired recipient, use that name as part of the greeting. Don’t include anything you are unsure about, such as gender or marital status, since you want to build up a good rapport without any false assumptions.

How Do You Start Off a Cover Letter?

Once you know what greeting to use at the top of your cover letter, it is time to write the first draft. To start the cover letter on the right foot, you’ll need these three elements:

Your Contact Information

Somewhere in the header of the document, you should write out your contact information, including name, phone number, and email. Many people also include their addresses as part of the contact info.

This information gives the hiring manager an easy place to refer back to when reaching out to an applicant.

Having the contact information at the top means they won’t have to hunt for that info in the body of the letter.


The greeting comes after your contact information. This greeting should match the tone of your letter and the tone of the business’s communications on things like its social media and website.

Introductory Paragraph

Among the best cover letter tips we can provide outside of getting the correct greeting is to write an introductory paragraph that is worth reading through.

A solid start to your letter encourages a hiring manager to continue reading and getting to know you.

You should strive to grab their attention from the beginning. Share the reason why you applied for the job or something interesting that helps you stand out and relates to the job you applied to.

As long as it matches the tone and quality of the rest of the letter, you can get creative!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some other common questions out there about greetings and cover letters:

Is “To Whom it May Concern” Rude?

While the greeting “To Whom it May Concern” is not impolite, it is also not the best choice for greetings in most cover letters.

The phrase is a holdover from more formal and analog business practices. If you can, you should address the hiring manager by name.

What Can I Use Instead of Dear in a Cover Letter?

The best substitute for “dear” in a cover letter can something as simple as “hello” or “greetings.”

Both of these words convey the idea of a greeting or a first-time meet-up, but without the formality or sappy sentiment.

You could also use an individual’s name directly without additional words.  

Do You Need to Include Address on Cover Letter Online?

If your cover letter is not part of your resume, it is a good idea to include your address in a header.

Many businesses print off applications to read with a committee, meaning the people reviewing your application might not have your contact info readily available.

Wrapping Up

Overall, there are several ways to address a reader with a cover letter.

Matching the greeting to your cover letter’s tone and the business you apply to will go further than using a generic greeting hiring managers see every day.

Still, ending a cover letter is also important. Ensure you craft an excellent cover letter from beginning to end to ensure you have the best chance to score that interview!

Have any questions about cover letters or how to apply for jobs? Let us know in the comments!

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