How to Address a Cover Letter in 2023

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Yes, how you address your cover letter matters.

After all, this is the first thing the recruiter reads when going through your cover letter, and yes, there is a right and wrong way to do it.

In this article, we’re going to teach you how to address your cover letter in such a way that you leave a positive impression on any recruiter!

  • How to address a cover letter to a recruiter? (Casual or formal)
  • What title to use when addressing the hiring manager
  • How to address a cover letter without a contact person/to a company
  • How to address a cover letter without an address
  • How to address a cover letter in an email

How to Address a Cover Letter To a Recruiter (Casual or Formal)?

As we already mentioned, the way you address your cover letter is important because it is the very first thing recruiters see upon opening your cover letter. 

A well-formulated cover letter address means that you care enough to research the company (i.e. to find the hiring manager’s name and title) and that you show attention to detail. 

As such, you should always put some research into who you’re addressing your cover letter to and do so in a formal way.  

And yes, the formal part is important too. The recruiter isn’t your best friend - you want to maintain a sense of professionalism.

If this is how you address the recruiter in your cover letter:

  • What’s up Hiring Manager
  • Hi there Hiring Team

Then you say goodbye to the job.

Now, you’re probably wondering, how can I find out whom to address my cover letter to?

That’s what we’re about to teach you:

Who Am I Addressing My Cover Letter To?

Here are some tricks to find the full name of the hiring manager: 

  • Check the job listing. The job listing may have information about the recruiter or the department doing the hiring. Make sure to read through the entire job listing, as it might not be at an entirely obvious place.
  • Check the company website. Some websites feature the names of the hiring managers or heads of departments that may go through your cover letter. Alternatively, LinkedIn is another place where you can look for this information.
  • Check the company’s LinkedIn. You can look up who works in the company you’re applying for on their LinkedIn page.
  • Ask around. Do you have friends that work for the company? They could provide you with valuable inside info.

To avoid making a bad impression, head over to our guide on cover letter mistakes to learn about what NOT to do when writing your cover letter.  

job search masterclass novoresume

Addressing a Cover Letter With a Name

By now, you have probably found the hiring manager’s full name and gender. With this information available, it’s best to address the hiring manager formally, as follows: 

  • Dear Mr. Brown,
  • Dear Miss Fitzpatrick,
  • Dear Mrs. Lockhart,
  • Dear Ms. Walters,

If, for some reason, you are unsure about the person’s title, gender, marital status, or preferred pronouns, just address them using their entire name to avoid any mistakes. For example:

  • Dear Alex Brown, 
  • Dear Blair Fitzpatrick,
  • Dear Jesse Lockhart,
  • Dear Madison Walters,

Addressing someone with a title 

Now, if you found out that the hiring manager has a professional or academic title, then it’s more appropriate to address them using that title. If, for example, the hiring manager has a Ph.D., then it’s more respectful to address them as “Dr. Last Name,” instead of “Mr. Last Name.”  

Here are some professional titles and how they’re abbreviated: 

  • A professor is Prof. 
  • A reverend is Rev. 
  • A sergeant is Sgt. 
  • Honorable is Hon. 

If, however, you are uncertain about how a title is abbreviated, then avoid it altogether. 

Here are a few examples to give you an idea: 

  • Dear Prof. Welsch,
  • Dear Director Smith,
  • Dear Rev. Owen,

Dear Dr. Leonard,

When addressing women and you don’t know their marital status, always go with Ms., because it doesn’t comment on marital status. Some women prefer not to be addressed with Miss or Mrs. even when they’re married, so sticking with Ms. is the best choice. 

Want to learn more cover letter tips ? Our guide has all you need to ace your cover letter!  

How to Address a Cover Letter Without a Contact Person

It might happen that, no matter how hard you search, you can’t find the name of the hiring manager or department head that will read your cover letter.

In that case, you can address your cover letter to the department, faculty, or the company.

  • Dear Software Development Hiring Team,
  • Dear Customer Service Department Hiring Team,
  • Dear Head of the Literature Faculty,
  • Dear Director of Marketing,
  • Dear Human Resources Recruitment Team,

Alternatively, if you don’t have enough information either about the department or the team, you can opt for addressing the cover letter directly to the company’s hiring staff, as follows: 

Dear [Company Name] Hiring Team 

Dear [Company Name] Recruiting Staff

If all else fails (meaning, you don’t know the name of the department head or even the exact department, in addition to the recruiter) then you can use one of the good, old-fashioned:

Dear Hiring Manager,

...but NOT the impersonal and way outdated “To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir/Madam.” 

Starting a cover letter can be challenging. Our guide can show you how to start a cover letter that will get you results from the get-go. 

How to Format the Company’s Address

Before you reach the salutation, you have to make sure that the header with the recipient’s contact information is formatted correctly. 

It might not be the deciding point of whether you’ll secure an interview or not, but it will cost you points if it’s off. 

So, the first thing you want to do is add your name and surname on the upper left side of the cover letter. Underneath, you should write your professional title (if applicable), your email , and your phone number . 

Now, after you’ve also added the date, you should leave one more space and add the recipient’s contact information and, most importantly, the company’s address. 

It should look something like this on your cover letter: 

how to address a cover letter

When You Can’t Find the Company’s Address 

Some companies might have several addresses listed (as per their branches, for example), or even none at all. 

Since an application that doesn’t have an address line could end up lost or misplaced, make sure you do one of the following before skipping the company’s address completely:

  • Check all your resources, (pretty much like when you were looking for the hiring manager’s name) to find the company’s address. 
  • Use the company’s headquarter address. This is sometimes easier to find, especially if the company has several branches. 
  • Use the P.O. Box number for the company. This is not as specific as an actual address line, but if all else fails, it’s still something. 

Frequently, you’ll be asked to submit your job application (including your cover letter) electronically, or by email. In those cases, you can skip the address line altogether. 

Here’s how you’d go about addressing a cover letter in an email.

How to Address an Email Cover Letter

If you’re sending your job application through email, chances are you’ll need to format your cover letter in the body of the email, or as an attachment along with your resume.

First and foremost when you’re addressing a cover letter in an email is the subject line, which should be between 6-10 words long. 

Considering that hiring managers receive countless emails daily, you want to make sure that yours is a job application immediately. And the way to do that is straight through the subject line, which should indicate exactly the position you’re applying for and your name so that it’s easier to find through the recruiter’s swarmed mailbox. 

Here’ what we mean by that:

  • Subject Line:   John Doe - Software Development Job Application 
  • Subject Line: John Doe - Job Application for Marketing Manager Position   
  • Subject Line: John Doe - Stock Manager Job Application 

Afterward, if you’re including your cover letter in the body of the email (as opposed to attaching it as a document), begin by using a salutation, add space, and start your letter. 

If someone referred you for the position, make sure to mention that in the subject line of your email as well as in your opening paragraph.  

So, let’s see how all the above plays out in practice: 

Subject Line: John Doe - Carl Jacob’s Referral for Software Developer

I was very glad that Mr. Jacobs, a long-time partner at your firm who also happens to be my mentor from college, referred me for the Software Developer position. 

Do you want your style, personality, and overall personal brand to shine through your application? With Novorésumé, you can match your cover letter with your resume to make a lasting impression! 

matching resume and cover letter

Key Takeaways 

And that’s all there is when it comes to addressing a cover letter! You should feel much more confident in doing so by now. 

Either way, let’s go over the main points we covered throughout the article: 

  • Your cover letter address should be formal and well-researched. Don’t address the hiring manager with “hey,” “what’s up,” “hi there,” or even the old-fashioned “Dear Sir/Madam” and “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Always try to find the hiring manager’s full name and professional title through the company’s website, LinkedIn, by calling, or by asking someone who works there.
  • If you know the hiring manager’s name, go with “Dear Mr./Miss Last Name,” but if you’re unsure about their gender, marital status, or preferred pronoun, just address them using their full name.
  • If the recruiter has a professional or academic title, it’s more appropriate to address them using their title.
  • If you can’t find the contact person’s name, then address the department, faculty, or company (i.e. Dear Microsoft Hiring Team , or Dear Software Development Recruitment Team ).

Related Readings: 

  • Do I Need a Cover Letter in 2023
  • Entry-Level Cover Letter
  • Cover Letter for Internship
  • How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023

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How to Address a Cover Letter: Tips + Examples for Every Type

Learn how to address a cover letter under different circumstances and how to find a contact to send the letter to when you don’t have a name.

[Featured Image]: A woman with curly hair and in a yellow blouse is examining a cover letter she is working on.

When you're applying for a job or contacting an employer speculatively, the format of your cover letter will vary depending on whether you have a named contact and the reason for your letter. It's important that you address a cover letter properly as it's the first thing the reader will see, so you should strive to make a good first impression with it.

In this article, you'll learn what a cover letter is and why it's important along with tips on how to address different recipients for various types of cover letters.

What is a cover letter and why is it important?

A cover letter is a document sent in conjunction with your resume or application for a job opening. A great cover letter expresses your reason for applying and pulls together all the main evidence supporting why you're the best person for the job, as outlined in your resume, application, and any other supporting documents.

Each cover letter you write is highly tailored to the position you’re applying for and the hiring company. It should address essential criteria and elaborate on important points in your resume. Consider your cover letter to be your sales pitch. A great cover letter will be an invitation for a recruiter to read your resume or application.

Who do you address a cover letter to?

Your cover letter should be addressed to the person responsible for recruitment. If you don’t know the name of the person, there are ways to find out. Getting this can be the difference between your letter being read or lost in the pile, so follow the guidelines below to make sure you address your cover letter most effectively.

Addressing a cover letter with a name

If you have a name for your recipient, this is the best start. It means the letter will likely be delivered to the appropriate person, rather than get lost or sent to someone without the decision-making power you require.

A cover letter is a formal document, and so it should be addressed as such. The most professional way to do this is with “Dear.” For example:

Dear Mr. Miller,

Dear Ms. Jones,

Dear Dr. Lopez,

If you don’t know the person’s gender or preferred pronouns, you can use their first name. For example: “Dear James Miller.” Follow the salutation with a comma. 

What about "Mrs."?

Traditionally, "Mrs." was used to address married women who took their partner's surname after they tied the knot. Today, though, it's less common in professional settings and likely best to avoid, unless your recipient has explicitly used it to refer to themselves in their correspondence with you.

For female identifying recruiters, u se "Ms." instead of "Mrs." in most cases. This will help ensure that you don't inadvertently offend your recipient, who may be unmarried or who is married but didn't adopt their partner's last name.

Addressing a cover letter to a recipient with a professional title

If the recipient of your cover letter has a professional title, always include it. Someone with a PhD will be "Dr." rather than "Mr./Ms." This also makes things easier if you are unsure of which personal pronoun to use.

Addressing a cover letter without a named recipient

When you're uncertain what the name of your recipient is, it’s definitely worth taking the time to find it. This is covered in more detail in our "First steps in determining a recipient" section below.

But, if you absolutely can’t find a name, address your cover letter to the appropriate department within the company or organization. For example: “Dear [Department] Hiring Team.” If you know the job title of the person you need to send your letter to and it’s just their actual name that eludes you, address their position instead. For instance: “Dear Head of [Department]” or “Dear Director of [Department].”

Addressing a speculative cover letter

When writing a speculative cover letter—one that isn't in response to a job posting—the principles are much like the above. You may or may not know the name of the person you're trying to reach. If you do, so much the better. Include the name.

The difference with a speculative letter is that you may have been given the name of the appropriate recipient by a mutual connection. If this is the case, mention that connection in your introduction. For example:

Dear Mr. Morris, 

I was given your details by my former employer, Jenny Lee, of Brandenburg and Associates following news of the development of your new customer service department.

Addressing a cover letter sent by email

Addressing a cover letter to send via email is slightly different from a printed letter. A printed letter would include the address of the recipient and the date, which is not necessary in an email, as the letter will simply be the body of the email.

However, your email still needs to be as professional as a traditional cover letter. Use a formal way of addressing the letter, just as you would in a printed cover letter. 

The subject line is all-important with an email cover letter in order to be noticed amid the hundreds of emails a recruiter might receive. Include your name, the job title you’re applying for or reason for contact, and what is included in the documents you're sending. An example of an appropriate email subject line might be:

Helen Williams – Marketing Manager Position – resume and cover letter

If you have a recipient’s name but you're sending your email to an ‘info’ address, you can include ‘ FAO ’ (For the attention of) in your title:

FAO Mark Booth – Helen Williams – Marketing Manager Position

How to find the right recipient

If you don’t have a recipient for your cover letter, you'll need to do some research. It might even be the case that you have a name, but not an email address. Here are some tips for hunting down elusive contacts and their addresses.

1. Research websites

Check out the company website and social media sites. Use Google to piece together what you know and find details on lesser-known websites, such as About pages. For example, if you know the desired department to contact, you can search for, “Head of Marketing for [Department]” and see what it brings up.

If you have a name but no contact address, you can search your contact: “Mr Jones, Head of Marketing at [Company].” You may be lucky enough to find a social media page this way, if not a contact email address.

2. Call the company

The good old-fashioned telephone is an excellent way to find out a contact for your cover letter. Call the company, explain why you are calling, and ask them to whom you should send your cover letter and resume.

3. Check LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great tool for finding people thanks to its built-in and highly effective search function. You can search by the person's name if you have one, and for more advanced searches, you can even add in the company and location. If you find the person you’re looking for, you will see a ‘Contact info’ link on their profile under their name, so you can attempt to message them and ask. 

If you don’t have a name, you can search the company and see who is listed as an employee. If the person you want isn’t listed, you may be able to contact someone in a related department, such as HR, and ask for assistance. You may even be able to get an introduction from a mutual connection.

Read more: Letter of Introduction Writing Guide + Samples

Formatting your cover letter

The format of your letter is as important as who you send it to. When you’ve put in the effort of tracking down the most appropriate recipient, you’re going to want the rest of the letter to stand out, too.

Address and date

Your letter should be professionally formatted with your name, address, phone number, and email address in the top left. On the next line down, add the date, followed by the name and address of the recipient. As with any document, you begin writing the cover letter with ‘Dear [Name]’ on the left of the page.

If you are sending your letter digitally, which is far more common these days, your letter should be in the body of the text and you need to include the date, your city/state, phone number and email address at the top, but not the recipient's name and address. 

Cover letter template

Using a cover letter template can be very helpful. Generally, cover letters follow the same format (aside from the address at the top) and should ideally be no longer than a page, whether they are printed or emailed. Feel free to download this cover letter template for your use.

Get started

When deciding how to address a cover letter and who to send it to, your efforts in finding the right person and formatting your cover letter professionally can help you get the interview you're looking for. For further help on crafting cover letters that get you noticed, you can check out the Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters course offered by the University of Maryland on Coursera. 

Keep reading

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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How to write an electronic cover letter

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Other than your resume, your cover letter or e-letter (electronically sent cover letter) is the most important document that will impact your being selected for that all important interview. Just as with your resume, your electronic letter should contain the most important facts about you that are valued by the prospective employer. A properly written letter will cover at least the following: it should identify the position you are applying for, highlight your skills and qualifications, and show how you fit the employer's needs.

An electronic cover letter should be concise and paint an accurate picture. Keep it simple and on target. Your letter should use a standard business format. 

For specific details about writing resume and/or cover letters for government jobs - review guidelines posted at . 

Electronic letters are sent via e-mail and tend to be very brief. It is important to include the position you are seeking in the SUBJECT of your e-mail. Then in the BODY of your letter, sell two to three points about yourself that will demonstrate that you have what the employer is looking for. Try to make your cover letter specific to the employer. The more targeted your letter is to an individual organization, the more effective it will be. Remember to research the organization you are applying to so that you can include relevant facts.

Be sure to include your cover letter at the top of your e-mail with your electronic resume following below. These documents are combined into one e-mail and then sent to a potential employer.

Electronic Cover Letter Tips

  • Bold, underline, or italicize
  • Use graphics or shading
  • Tab, indent, or center text
  • Insert symbols or use columns
  • Use anything other than 12 point font
  • Use any font except for Times New Roman (if you must use a different font, use Sans Serif)
  • Include position title in the SUBJECT line of e-mail
  • Align all text to the left
  • Use spaces to separate paragraphs
  • Use 12 point Times New Roman font
  • Test letter before sending it to employers by mailing it to yourself or to a friend
  • Mail a copy to your top employers

Sample Electronic Cover Letter

Your Current Address City, State Zip Code Date of Letter Person's Name, Title Organization Name Street Address City, State Zip Code

Dear Ms. or Mr. [last name]:

Opening Paragraph - Tell why you are writing; name the position, field, or type of work for which you are applying; mention how you heard about the opening or organization. Try to get the reader's attention.

Middle Paragraph (or two) - Describe your most important qualifications in relationship to the position, field, or organization for which you wish to be considered. Explain why you are interested in working for this employer, and specify your reasons for desiring this type of work. Emphasize skills or abilities you have that relate to the job for which you are applying.

Refer the reader to your resume below, but do not simply repeat the facts on the resume. Instead, interpret the facts on the resume from the employer's point-of-view. Help the reader see between the lines and draw conclusions. Be personable and enthusiastic, but also brief and specific. Remember that the reader will view your letter as an example of your writing skills.

Closing Paragraph - Use this paragraph to discuss what comes next. If references have been requested and the CDO has or will send your file, mention that fact. You can request an application or make yourself available for an interview. You can also make a specific request for an interview and indicate that you will phone after a specific amount of time to see if an interview can be arranged. Whichever approach you use, be sure that whatever action you are requesting of the reader is clear. Finally, thank the reader for his/her consideration.

Sincerely, Your Typewritten Name

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How to Address a Cover Letter With Examples

how to address a cover letter submitted online

Options for Addressing a Cover Letter

  • Letter Without a Contact Person
  • Non-Gender-Specific Names

What Title to Use

  • Address an Email Cover Letter
  • Review a Sample Cover Letter

Before You Send Your Letter

One of the trickiest parts of writing a cover letter comes at the very beginning. Much of the time, you won’t know exactly who will read your letter. How do you address your cover letter when you don’t have the contact person’s name and/or gender ?

First of all, try to find out the name of the contact person. Some employers will think poorly of an applicant who does not take the time to learn the hiring manager’s name. Also, take care not to assume that you know the gender of the recipient based on the name. Many names are gender-neutral, and some hiring managers may identify as a gender other than male or female.

It’s also possible that you’ll do your research and still be unable to figure out to whom you are addressing your letter. In that case, it's better to be safe and use a generic greeting . It's also acceptable to start a letter without a greeting and start with the first paragraph of your letter .

You have a lot of options when addressing your letter. Learn more about the possibilities before you make your choice.

How to Address a Cover Letter Without a Contact Person

There are a variety of general cover letter salutations you can use to address your letter. These general cover letter salutations do not require you to know the name of the hiring manager.

In a survey of more than 2,000 companies, Saddleback College found that employers preferred the following greetings:  

  • Dear Sir/Madam (27%)
  • To Whom It May Concern  (17%)
  • Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
  • Leave it blank (8%)

Do keep in mind that terms like "To Whom It May Concern" may seem dated, so the best options may be either to use "Dear Hiring Manager" or not to include a greeting at all. Simply start with the first paragraph of your letter.

How to Address a Cover Letter for a Non-Gender-Specific Name

If you do have a name but aren't sure of the person's gender, one option is to include both the first name and the last name in your salutation, without a title that reveals gender:

  • Dear Sydney Doe
  • Dear Taylor Smith
  • Dear Jamie Brown

With these types of gender-ambiguous names,  LinkedIn  can be a helpful resource. Since many people include a photo with their profile, a simple search of the person's name and company within LinkedIn could potentially turn up the contact's photograph.

Again, you can also check the company website or call the company’s administrative assistant to get more information as well.

Even if you know the name and gender of the person to whom you are writing, think carefully about what title you will use in your salutation.

For example, if the person is a doctor or holds a Ph.D., you might want to address your letter to “Dr. Lastname” rather than “Ms. Lastname” or “Mr. Lastname.” Other titles might be “Prof.,” “Rev.,” or “Sgt.,” among others.

When you address a letter to a female employer, use the title “Ms.” unless you know for certain that she prefers another title (such as “Miss” or “Mrs.”).

“Ms.” is a general title that does not denote marital status, so it works for any female employer.

How to Address an Email Cover Letter

Hiring managers get a lot of emails each day. Make it easy for them to scan your email and follow up by including a clear subject line and a signature with your contact information. It's important to address the email cover letter correctly, including the name of the person hiring for the position if you have a contact, to ensure that your letter gets noticed.

Subject Line of Email Message

Never leave the subject line blank. There is a good chance that if a hiring manager receives an email with no subject line, they’ll delete it without even bothering to open it, or it could end up in their spam mailbox. Instead, write a clear subject indicating your intentions.

List the job you are applying for in the  subject line of your email message , so the employer knows what job you are interested in. They may be hiring for multiple positions, and you will want them to identify the position you’re interested in easily.

How to Address the Contact Person

There are a variety of  cover letter salutations  you can use to address your email message. If you have a contact person at the company, address the letter to Ms. or Mr. Lastname. If you aren’t given a contact person, check to see if you can  determine the email recipient's name .

If you can’t find a contact person at the company, you can either leave off the salutation from your cover letter and  start with the first paragraph  of your letter or use a  general salutation .

How to Format the Salutation

Once you have chosen a salutation, follow it with a colon or comma, a space, and then start the first paragraph of your letter. For example:

Dear Hiring Manager:

First paragraph of the letter.

Body of Email Cover Letter

The body of your cover letter  lets the employer know what position you are applying for, and why the employer should select you for an interview. This is where you'll sell yourself as a candidate. Review the job posting and include examples of your attributes that closely match the ones they are looking for.

When you're sending an  email cover letter , it's important to follow the employer's instructions on how to submit your cover letter and resume.

Make sure that your email cover letters are as well-written as any other documents you send.

If you have attached your resume, mention this as part of your conclusion. Then finish your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow up. Include a closing, then list your name and your  email signature .

Your email signature should include your name, full address, phone number, email address, and  LinkedIn Profile URL  (if you have one) so it is easy for hiring managers to get in touch.

Firstname Lastname  Street Address  (optional) City, State Zip Code  Email  Phone  LinkedIn

Sample Cover Letter

This is a cover letter example. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Sample Cover Letter (Text Version)

Mary Garcia 12 Rogers Avenue Townville, New Hampshire 03060 555-555-5555

February 17, 2021

Franklin Lee

CBI Industries 39 Main Street Townville, New Hampshire 03060

Dear Mr. Lee:

I was excited to see your ad for the operations assistant position in your Townville offices.

I have five years of experience as an operations assistant/associate. In my most recent role at ABC Corp., I fulfilled orders, resolved customer issues, ordered supplies, and prepared reports. In previous roles, I’ve done bookkeeping, data entry, and sales support. Basically, anything your department needs to run smoothly, I can do – and most likely, I already have experience doing it.

My other skills include:

  • Strong communication skills, in person, in writing, and on the phone
  • Excellent attention to detail and organization skills
  • Top-notch customer service
  • Experience in the industry and passion for the product
  • Adept at all the usual professional software, including Microsoft Office Suite

I’ve included my resume for your review. Please contact me if you have questions or would like to schedule an interview. Thank you for your consideration.

Signature (hard copy letter)

Mary Garcia

Review Cover Letter Samples: It’s hard to write cover letters from scratch. To make life easier – and to make sure you don’t forget any of those pesky formatting rules —start by reviewing cover letter samples . Sending an email version instead? Look at a few examples of email cover letters to get started.

Customize Your Cover Letter: Why personalize your cover letter every time you apply for a job? Because even similar job titles have different requirements. The goal of a cover letter is to show the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for this particular job. Customizing your cover letter will help you emphasize your skills and experience and how they fit with the job requirements .

Spell-Check Names: Before sending your cover letter, make absolutely sure that you have spelled the hiring manager’s name correctly. That is the kind of small error that can cost you a job interview.

Carefully Proofread Your Letter: Whether you're sending an email or uploading or attaching a printable cover letter, it's important to make sure that your cover letter and resume are written as well as any other business correspondence. If you can, have a friend proofread before you hit send, to pick up any typos or grammatical errors.

Saddleback College. " Your Resume is Your 1st Interview ," Page 14. Accessed Feb. 17, 2021.

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How to Address a Cover Letter (+ Who to Address) in 2023

  • Cover Letter

How to Address a Cover Letter (+ Who to Address) in 2023

If you want the hiring manager to give your letter a read, you must address it correctly. Learn how to address a cover letter the right way, even when the recipient is unknown.

Tom Gerencer, CPRW

As seen in:

Just like the first message you send on Tinder can ruin your chances of meeting the match in person, the first line of your cover letter can make the recruiter squirm and reject your application.

Don’t risk it! Learn how to address a cover letter the right way ASAP. 

This guide will show you:

  • How to address a cover letter correctly when you know the recruiter’s name.
  • Ideas on how to address a cover letter without a name.
  • Who to address a cover letter to, especially if the recipient is unknown.
  • Common cover letter address mistakes.

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from  20+ professional cover letter templates  that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

Create your cover letter now

Matching resume and cover letter

Sample cover letter for a resume— See more cover letter examples and create your cover letter here .

Make sure your knowledge of cover letter rules is up-to-date with these guides:

  • How to Write a Cover Letter
  • Cover Letter Header: What Is It & Examples
  • Best Short Cover Letter Examples
  • How to Sign a Cover Letter Properly
  • What to Include in a Cover Letter

You can also check our collection of 100+ professional cover letter examples .

Enough chitchat—let’s dive in:

How to Address a Cover Letter With a Name

People love the sound of their own names. Studies show that babies as young as five months old already react to hearing their names. Using a person’s name in direct communication helps to establish a connection. So it’s no wonder you should use it in the cover letter address!

  • Start with Dear + recipient’s first name or their first and last name.
  • Use honorific titles such as Mr. or Ms. only if you’re 100% certain of the recipient’s gender identity.
  • Add titles such as Mrs. or Miss only if you know for certain that the recipient prefers them.

Just like that:

Cover Letter Address Examples With Recipient’s Name

Not exactly rocket science, is it?

Writing a cover letter doesn’t have to take hours. Learn more: How to Write a Cover Letter Fast

How to Address a Cover Letter Without a Name

It’s true that many job postings don’t include the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s name. That can leave you confused. But it’s not a reason to despair. Just channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and investigate using the tips below:

Find Out Who to Address a Cover Letter To

Here are a few ideas to help you establish the right cover letter address:

  • Carefully scan the job posting: make sure the hiring manager’s name's not in it—maybe you missed it on the first try?
  • Analyze the email address in the job posting: an email like [email protected] most likely includes the recruiter’s name. Give it a Google search and see if a person’s profile comes up.
  • Check LinkedIn: job offers posted on LinkedIn often indicate the person who created the offer. You can also take a look at the company’s LinkedIn page to see if the hiring manager is mentioned. 
  • Check the company website: see if it lists the department’s heads.
  • Ask your business network: there’s a chance your LinkedIn connections know someone working for the company that interests you!
  • Call the company: surprise, surprise—you can actually call the front desk and ask the receptionist for the name of the contact person.

Use a Professional Title in the Cover Letter Address

If the hiring manager has a specific title, such as professor or doctor, you may use it in place of a name. For example:

Address a Cover Letter with “Dear Hiring Manager”

It’s the easiest way to address a cover letter without a name. And actually, 40% of managers prefer " Dear Hiring Manager " to any other cover letter salutation . Plus, you can replace the Hiring Manager with a different business title, such as:

As you see, this type of cover letter address works in many situations.

4 Cover Letter Address Mistakes to Avoid

Many job applicants fall for common mishaps when addressing a cover letter. Here are the most common ones—familiarize yourself with them, so you can avoid them in the future!

1. Starting the Cover Letter Address Informally 

Addressing a cover letter with "Hello" or "Hi" is a tad too informal for many companies.

2. Using Dear Sir or Madam

Don't use Dear Sir or Madam even if you’re not sure who to address a cover letter to. It’s a very outdated phrase, and it will make you look lazy.

3. Using To Whom It May Concern

Writing "To Whom it May Concern" in a cover letter salutation is very old-fashioned. Unless you travelled back in time, and you’re seeking employment in the 19th century, don’t use it.

4. Addressing the Cover Letter to the Wrong Person

This looks fine at first glance. But the HR director doesn’t necessarily have to be the hiring manager leading this particular recruitment process. Pay attention to the roles and departments mentioned in the job posting!

Pro Tip: Careful with spelling—if you address a cover letter with a misspelled name, you’ll end up looking pretty silly.

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here.  Here's what it may look like:

A pair of professional job application papers that complement each other, consisting of a resume and cover letter, crafted with the Zety resume generator using the Modern resume template, which includes a two-column layout and decorative rectangles in the header and footer areas.

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway 

That’s all you need to know on the subject of addressing cover letters.

Here are a few important points to remember:

  • If you’re not sure who to address a cover letter to, do your best to learn the hiring manager’s name.
  • If you’re sending your cover letter to an unknown recipient, use a greeting such as ‘Dear Hiring Manager.’
  • Avoid salutation such as ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ and ‘To Whom It May Concern.’

Now you know how to address a cover letter correctly!

Got any questions on picking the right cover letter address in your situation? Let us know in the comments below!

About Zety’s Editorial Process

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team to make sure it follows Zety's editorial guidelines . We’re committed to sharing our expertise and giving you trustworthy career advice tailored to your needs. High-quality content is what brings over 40 million readers to our site every year. But we don't stop there. Our team conducts original research to understand the job market better, and we pride ourselves on being quoted by top universities and prime media outlets from around the world.

Tom Gerencer, CPRW

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How to Write a Cover Letter

how to address a cover letter submitted online

Advice for tackling one of the toughest parts of the job-hunting process.

Perhaps the most challenging part of the job application process is writing an effective cover letter. And yes, you should send one. Even if only one in two cover letters gets read, that’s still a 50% chance that including one could help you. Before you start writing, find out more about the company and the specific job you want. Next, catch the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter with a strong opening line. If you have a personal connection with the company or someone who works there, mention it in the first sentence or two, and try to address your letter to someone directly. Hiring managers are looking for people who can help them solve problems, so show that you know what the company does and some of the challenges it faces. Then explain how your experience has equipped you to meet those needs. If the online application doesn’t allow you to submit a cover letter, use the format you’re given to demonstrate your ability to do the job and your enthusiasm for the role.

No one likes job hunting. Scouring through online job listings, spiffing up your résumé , prepping for grueling interviews  — none of it is fun. For many, the most challenging part of the process is writing an effective cover letter. There’s so much conflicting advice out there, it’s hard to know where to start. Do you even need one, especially if you’re applying through an online system?

  • Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, cohost of the Women at Work podcast , and the author of two books: Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) and the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict . She writes and speaks about workplace dynamics. Watch her TEDx talk on conflict and follow her on LinkedIn . amyegallo

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