BlogCover LettersHow to Address a Cover Letter: Best Practices & Examples

How to Address a Cover Letter: Best Practices & Examples

how to address a cover letter

Knowing how to address a cover letter helps you build rapport with the recipient and improve the impact of your writing. The way you address your cover letter and whether you choose to include the reader’s name or title sets the tone for the rest of the document.

In this guide, we’ll teach you exactly how to address a cover letter to a recruiter. We’ll show you what you should do and what you should avoid. We’ll also explore some of the niche cases that pop up every now and then to help you handle fringe situations. Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Knowing how to address a cover letter is vital, as it creates a stronger connection with the reader and demonstrates dedication.

  • To find out who to address on your cover letter, you can read the job posting, check out the company’s website or LinkedIn profile, or even call them via phone.

  • One of the best ways to address the reader is with a “Dear,” followed by their title and name.

  • If you can’t find the recipient's name, you can use their job title, address a department, or even the company’s team.

Is Addressing a Cover Letter Important?

Addressing a cover letter is extremely important, as it demonstrates dedication, professionalism, and attention to detail. It shows that you went the extra mile to find out who was going to read your letter. In turn, that highlights a genuine interest in the company and the position you’re after.

A properly addressed cover letter can set you apart from the competition by creating a personalized experience for the recruiter. By seeing their name (or, to a lesser extent, their title) at the beginning of the letter, they’ll be more inclined to carefully read your writing.

On the other hand, a poorly addressed cover letter can have a negative effect, leaving a bad impression on the reader. It can signal a lack of effort, insufficient writing skills, or a poor understanding of business correspondence and etiquette.

How to Find Out Who to Address in a Cover Letter

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Finding out who to address in a cover letter requires some research skills and detective work, but the outcome is well worth the effort. Fortunately, there are many different ways to figure out who is going to read your cover letter.

Here are some of the easiest and best ones:

How to Find Out Who to Address in a Cover Letter

  • Read the job posting. It’s not uncommon for a job posting to specify the name of the recruiter, hiring manager, or some other HR professional who is in charge of the process and will likely read your cover letter.

  • Check out the company’s website. The majority of companies feature relevant information about their staff on their websites. Typically, you can visit the “About Us” section and find out the name of the person in charge of job applications.

  • Call the company. If you can’t find the necessary details online, you can always opt for a proven method and call the company via telephone. It’s a direct approach that can yield results quickly and effortlessly.

  • Check LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the go-to social media platform for professionals, and it offers many useful search functions you can use. That can help you find important details about the company, the name of the recipient of your cover letter, and more.

How to Address a Cover Letter With a Name

Addressing a cover letter with the name of the person to whom you’re sending it is usually the best approach. It helps you build a connection with them and enhances the impact of your cover letter. However, it’s important to know how to do it correctly to maintain professionalism in addition to crafting a personalized experience.

First, you want to begin with a simple “Dear.” This salutation is as polite as it is professional, and it’s the established way of starting a cover letter. In most instances, you should avoid greetings like “Hi” or “Hello” since they are too informal and unprofessional.

After that, one of the safest options is to include the person’s full name, especially if you’re unsure about their gender. Here’s an example:

Address a Cover Letter With a Name Example

Dear Alex Johnson,

You shouldn’t assume the recipient’s gender or go with a generic greeting like “Dear Mr./Ms. Griffin.”

However, if you’re sure about the person’s gender and you want to use a more orderly approach, you can include their formal title before following up with their last name. Here’s what that looks like in practice:

Address a Cover Letter With Formal Title and Their Last Name Examples

  • Dear Mr. Smith,

  • Dear Ms. Jones,

  • Dear Dr. Black,

How to Address a Cover Letter Without a Name

Addressing a cover letter without a name is the next best option when you can’t find the necessary information despite your best efforts. This is a less personal, albeit still professional and appropriate, way of starting your cover letter.

One of the best ways to address a cover letter without a contact person’s name is to use their job title. The formula is simple: you should start with “Dear” and follow it up with their role in the company. 

Here’s an example:

Address a Cover Letter Without a Name Examples

  • Dear Hiring Manager,”

  • Dear Head of Marketing,”

  • Dear Director of Sales,”

Another way to go about it is to be department-specific. If you’re unsure about the person’s job title, you can address an entire department in the following way:

Address the Department Example

Dear Marketing Department,”

Finally, if you can’t find anything specific about a person or department within a company, you can address the company’s team itself. Here’s an example:

Address the Company’s Team Example

Dear [Company Name] Team,”

What you want to avoid are entirely generic greetings that in no way specify who you’re sending your letter to. These sound too impersonal and can indicate a lack of effort on your end.

Here are the openings to avoid:

Generic Greetings to Avoid

  • To Whom It May Concern,”

  • Dear Sir or Madam,”

  • Hello Everyone,”

How to Address a Cover Letter Without an Address

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When researching the company, sometimes you won’t find an appropriate address to send your cover letter to. 

In that case, you should consider other options for addressing your letter, such as:

How to Address a Cover Letter Without an Address

  • Address the company’s headquarters. Many companies operate in several locations, and if you can’t find the address of a specific one, you can always include its headquarters in your cover letter.

  • Use their P.O. box number. Adding a P.O. box number is the next best thing if you want to precisely address your cover letter but can’t find the company’s location.

  • Omit the address. Having a specific address isn’t even necessary nowadays, as the vast majority of applicants send their cover letters via email as soft copies, not as physical letters. 

What Title Should You Use When Addressing Someone in a Cover Letter?

When addressing someone in a cover letter, the most commonly used titles are “Mr.” or “Mrs.” They are polite, formal, and generally a safe option. However, you should avoid using them if you’re unsure of the person’s gender. As we mentioned before, you can use the recipient’s full name in these cases.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always use “Ms.” when addressing female recruiters and hiring managers. While “Mrs.” can be used in correspondence with married women, and “Miss” is used to address unmarried or younger women, it’s best to avoid assumptions unless you’re explicitly instructed otherwise.

Furthermore, you should prioritize professional or academic titles if the recipients have them. For instance, if someone has a PhD, you should address them as “Dr.” instead of “Mr.” or “Ms.” Some other titles include:

Other Titles

  • Prof. (Professor)

  • Sgt. (Sergeant)

  • Rev. (Reverend)

In practice, here’s what that would look like:

Professional or Academic Title Examples

  • Dear Dr. French,”

  • Dear Prof. Williamson,”

  • Dear Sgt. Johnston,”

  • Dear Rev. Travers,”

Pro tip: If you’re wondering how to address a cover letter to two people, you should simply add them both, each with their title. Examples include:

Address a Cover Letter to Two People Examples

  • Dear Dr. Swan and Dr. Reder,”

  • Dear Ms. Hampton and Mr. Mease,”

Effortlessly Address a Cover Letter with Our Cover Letter Builder

If you want to ensure an optimal result when addressing your cover letter, you’re welcome to use our cover letter builder.

We built a robust tool that can help you craft an impeccable document from scratch. More than that, you can upload your resume and create a matching cover letter in minutes. You can even use our state-of-the-art AI helper to improve your writing and create a standout cover letter.

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Addressing a Cover Letter

Now that we know how to address a cover letter, let’s go through some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid:

1. An incorrect opening

You might be tempted to go with a “Hi” or “Hello” instead of “Dear,” but unless you’re certain a less formal approach will work, you should stick with the proven opening.

2. An incorrect title

An incorrect title can signal that you’ve assumed the recipient’s gender or marital status, that you don’t respect their professional title, or that you didn’t do research beforehand. It can even look offensive in certain cases, significantly reducing your chances of leaving a positive first impression.

3. Generic greetings

One of the biggest reasons for learning how to address a cover letter is to personalize it and build rapport with the recipient. An overly generic greeting like “To Whom It May Concern” defeats that purpose.

4. Spelling errors

Even a simple cover letter mistake, such as a typo, can have a substantially negative effect on the reader. It shows a lack of care and attention to detail, which can be all the more damaging if it happens as soon as the recruiter starts reading your cover letter.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to address your cover letter for an internship, a senior position, and everything in between. While this is just a small part of the document, its importance cannot be overstated.

By knowing how to address a cover letter, you’ll connect with the recruiter or the hiring manager more efficiently and increase your chances of impressing them. Subsequently, they’ll pay more attention to your skills and qualifications described in the letter, making them more likely to contact you for an interview.

Jeffrey Stromes
Jeffrey Stromes
HR Expert
Jeffrey Stromes is the backbone of our team and our HR expert. He is obsessed with making things fair, addicted to comic books, and in love with his golden retriever, Molly. He’s the big brain behind our company’s policies, the development and management of talent, and whatever else there is! Although he looks quite serious at first sight, Jeffrey is a sweet guy who is equally good at making our whole team laugh and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. Just be sure to provide him with enough coffee!

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