To Whom should I address my cover letter?

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SampleCoverLetter_crop380wJennifer from the University of Texas at Arlington asked:

I am applying for a job that requires a cover letter. I already have a cover letter but I am unsure to whom I should address it. I have looked on the company’s website for the name of a person, but I cannot find one. Who would I address my letter to in this scenario? 

Hi Jennifer –

So many people make huge mistakes when writing cover letters. I will answer your question and offer you some advice.

Never send a resume without a cover letter

Let me repeat that!  Never send a resume without a cover letter, because when you do, you miss a valuable opportunity to market yourself. Your resume should provide a focused summary of what you offer employers, in general. Your cover letter should present a focused summary of how what you offer matches what the employer is seeking. If the ability to write well is important for the job you are seeking, demonstrate your ability to write well by crafting a well reasoned, well written cover letter.  You miss a valuable opportunity to market yourself when you do not send a cover letter. Don’t miss that opportunity.

Every cover letter should be customized

A “one size fits all” cover letter is not actually a cover letter.  It is junk mail.  Generic cover letters say: “I care so little about this job opportunity, that I am sending you the exact same cover letter I sent to 200 other potential employers. Don’t you feel special?”  A well written, customized cover letter will set you apart from other candidates.  A generic cover letters says “I’m no different from anyone else.”    Which response do you want?

Use your cover letter to show how what you offer matches what the employers is seeking

Read the position description of the job for which you are applying.  What qualifications are they seeking?  Of those qualifications, which ones do you possess?  Use your cover letter to connect those dots!  Make it easy for employers to see just how strong a candidate you are.  Don’t claim you are “the perfect candidate for the job” and ask them to take your word for it.  Back up your claim with examples of your relevant qualifications.  Give them reasons to interview you.

If you can’t find a name, lose the salutation.

I do not like “Dear Sir/Madam,” “To Whom it may concern,” and “Dear Hiring Manager” as salutations.

When you can find the name, title and contact information for the hiring manager, definitely include it. When you cannot, consider a simple “subject” or “regarding” line at the start of your cover letter.  

For example:

RE:  Application for Bookkeeper Posting (Job #345467) with ABC Company


Subject: Account Executive Opening with Armstrong Holding Company LLC (Posting #98763)

In both instances, you are placing your cover letter into a specific context.  They know why you are writing.

If you are applying via email, your email message will already have a “Subject” line.  Use it to set the context and begin with the first paragraph of your cover letter in the body of the email.

For additional advice on cover letters and thank you letters, I encourage you to download my guide to writing cover letters and thank you letters.

Good luck,


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