Should You Use “To Whom It May Concern” for Cover Letter Salutations?

To Whom It May Concern
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There are many times when we are writing the cover letter to gain a chance for an interview but we do not know the name of the recruiter. Instead of doing research, people like to take the shortcut and use “To Whom It May Concern” as a greeting. 

Although it may be a very easy and common cover letter greeting to use, “To Whom It May Concern” has now become an outdated and lazy way to greet. The Internet now allows everyone to gain information no matter who you are, which means you’re able to find the recruiter’s information and include it in the cover letter salutations easily.

To avoid using this outdated salutation, we have compiled a list of “To Whom It May Concern” alternatives for you so that you could take your cover letter quality to the next level and wow the recruiters.

Should You Use “To Whom It May Concern”?

Before getting into the question of should we use the term “To Whom It May Concern”, it is very important for you to know what it is. “To Whom It May Concern” indicates that you are addressing the cover letter to someone responsible for it but you do not know who it is. 

That relates to the reason why “To Whom It May Concern” is not very ideal for a salutation because it can also mean that you do not know who is responsible for the letter; therefore, a very cliche term is used to cover up your ignorance.

However, it can be very easy for the recruiter to notice that you did not research anything beforehand if other cover letters have their salutations with the recruiter’s name on them. Ignorant? Lazy? Not characters you want to be associated with, especially by your potential employers.

Here are the reasons why “To Whom It May Concern” is not a good cover letter greeting to use:

  • It shows your ignorance towards the company.
  • It conveys your lazy personality in disguise.
  • It is too vague when cover letters should be directed to a specific person.

Starting a cover letter is no different from starting any other formal letter. Addressing the recipient’s name directly is the easiest and best way without using “To Whom It May Concern”. These are the ways that you can know the recruiter’s name:

💡 Search for a contact person to address.

There are other options when writing a salutation instead of naming the hiring manager. You can search for a contact person to be the recipient from LinkedIn, the company’s website, a connection within the company, and more.

💡 Refer to the job listing for any information.

Some companies have specific job listings with detailed information other than the requirements for the job. You might also find the hiring manager or the recruiter’s name in it.

💡 Search the company website for the person in charge.

Looking through the company’s website is a good way to find out who is in charge of your recruitment. Some companies have their employee’s information from each department shown on the website, which can be helpful for your research. 

💡 Ask the employer directly.

Some of the times when you could not find a better name for the salutations, you might as well ask the employer directly at the very beginning of your letter but do not forget to apologize for not being able to find the employer’s name. 

💡 Consider leaving off the salutation.

The last resort would be to consider leaving off salutations completely. After all, you could still greet and introduce yourself in the opening paragraph of your cover letter.

Alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern”

Of course, there are alternatives to  “To Whom It May Concern” that allow you to address the reader of your letter better. Take a look at the 15 alternatives below.

1. Dear [Employer’s Full Name]

The ideal way to address the hiring manager without using the term “To Whom It May Concern” is using the hiring manager’s full name which you can find from the company’s website or professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. By doing so, it shows the reader that you have done research regarding the company and are actually interested in the job.

  • Dear Cavin Hampton:
  • Dear Sarah Gordon:
  • Dear Peter McCarson:

📝 Note: By addressing them with their full name, you also don’t need to worry about using the wrong titles if you are not sure about their gender.

2. Dear Mr./Ms. [Employer’s Last Name]

Instead of using the full name to address your future boss, you can use titles like “Mr.” and “Ms.” then followed by the last name. Compared to “To Whom It May Concern”, this is obviously a more direct way of addressing the reader because it shows that you know who they are.

  • Dear Mr. Lambo:
  • Dear Ms. Rodriguez:
  • Dear Ms. Kerr:

3. Dear Mx. [Employer’s Name]

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell a person’s gender from their name only. When this is the case, you can use the term “Mx.” to not specifically mention gender but still show professionalism.

  • Dear Mx. Jacky Winter:
  • Dear Mx. Charly Soh:
  • Dear Mx. Manny South:

4. Dear [Name of the Head of the Department]

Another option that you can use to greet before using the term “To Whom It May Concern” is to address using the head of the department’s name. This term shows that your cover letter is written specifically for the employer. 

  • Dear Sales Manager Ms. Lin:
  • Dear Head of Marketing Mr. Harrison:
  • Dear HR Manager Mr. Starr:

5. Dear [Name of Department That You’re Applying To

In some cases, you might not be able to find the head of the department’s name. Your next option is to address the department that you are applying to, which is still much more specific compared to “To Whom It May Concern”.

  • Dear Product Team:
  • Dear Sales Department:
  • Dear Marketing Department:

6. Dear [Name of Company] Recruiting Team/Department

Different companies, especially bigger-sized ones, may have an independent recruitment team responsible for hiring and hiring new employees for positions. You can direct your cover letter to the recruiting team directly to avoid using “To Whom It May Concern” that does not specify who the letter is for. 

  • Dear ABC Company Hiring Team:
  • Dear XYZ Ventures Recruiting Department:
  • Dear CBA Inc. Talent Recruiting Team:

7. Dear Hiring Manager

A more general way to address the recruiter is to simply name them by their job title as “Dear Hiring Manager”. It is not as vague and overused as “To Whom It May Concern” but not too specific that it might cost you addressing your letter to the wrong person.

8. Dear Recruiter

This alternative is similar to the above. You may use the term “Dear Recruiter” when the recruiter’s name is not shown or when it is not found.

9. Dear [Company’s Name] Recruiter

Similar to the previous alternative, but it is more specific that you include the company’s name. Mentioning something from the company shows the recruiter that you wrote specially for the company and shows your genuine interest.

  • Dear Sony Recruiter:
  • Dear CakeResume Recruiter:
  • Dear AIA Recruiter:

10. Dear Search Committee

A search committee is responsible for the job listing writing, applicants’ interviewing, and final decision suggesting. You may use this term as your salutation and it is also a commonly used term when applying for positions in academia.

11. Dear Hiring Team

If you plan not to only address the hiring manager, you can address the team to show respect. After all, it might not be just one person reviewing your application.

12. Dear Recruiting Department

If you are applying for a job in a larger company, the recruiting department might be the first to read your cover letter and evaluate it before handing it to the recruiter. Therefore, you can also address your letter to the recruiting department.

13. Dear [Role You’re Applying] Hiring Manager

This “To Whom It May Concern” alternative shows that the cover letter is written for an application of a specific position in the company. When a company has multiple vacancies, the reader can know the applied position from the cover letter salutation before going into the paragraphs. 

  • Dear Sales Hiring Committee:
  • Dear Human Resource Hiring Manager:
  • Dear Engineer Hiring Team:

14. Dear HR Manager

Some companies have their human resource department specifically in charge of the company’s employees. Greeting the HR manager is a good choice when applying for a big company.

15. Good day

“Good day” is a greeting widely used by English speakers. It is a friendly phrase used for greetings. If you are looking to deliver a more friendly tone without being specific to who you are addressing the letter to, this would be a great salutation.

How to Use “To Whom It May Concern” Correctly

“To Whom It May Concern” may have been commonly used in the past. If after all you still wish to use it, make sure you use it correctly.

💭 Should “To Whom It May Concern” be capitalized?

How to capitalize “To Whom It May Concern” correctly? You should always capitalize the first letter of every word.

💭 “To Whom It May Concern” – Format

After writing down “To Whom It May Concern”, do not forget to include a colon. Using a colon is more common in business letters.

Here’s an example: 

To Whom It May Concern:

I found this job listing that was looking for fresh graduates as interns from CakeResume. I am passionate about looking for opportunities to join a company that will take me to the next level after graduating. 

Your job listing mentioned that you are searching for interns who have some basic skills in Microsoft and Adobe softwares. Luckily, I was the secretary for two university clubs which allowed me to get familiar with data entry skills. I also had some freelance jobs as a photographer which allowed me to practice skills in Photoshop and Lightroom.

As a fresh graduate, I might not have a long list of working experiences but I can assure you that I am a fast learner and team working person who is willing to learn as much as I can to provide to the company.

I am looking forward to hearing from you to discuss my qualifications. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Terrance Hopp

💭 “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”?

These two salutations are largely considered outdated, and both are not a good choice when writing a cover letter. Instead, consider the alternatives we’ve listed in the previous section.

💭 Can you use “To Whom It May Concern” in an email?

“To Whom It May Concern” can still be used in an email for formal purposes like company complaints, reference checks, and when reaching out to another institute or company.

🔑 Key Takeaways

There are many alternatives that you can use as salutations other than the outdated and lazy “To Whom It May Concern” greeting. It would be best if you can avoid this term in your cover letter because everything in the letter has to show a good impression. 

With CakeResume, you can easily create a resume online, free download your resume’s PDF formats, and utilize ATS-compliant templates to create a resume. Land your dream job, create your resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Ryan Goh ---

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