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No matter what situation you find yourself in, introductions are usually hard. You want to be friendly, but not arrogant, you want to be mature, but not a stick in the mud.
The same goes for your cover letter salutation. Start off with the wrong greeting and you’ll be hearing the back end of goodbye in no time. You only get to make a first impression once.
So how do you start off on the right foot and say what you want to say—you’re professional, hard-working, the candidate they need?
This guide will show you how to write the best cover letter salutation and which cover letter greetings it’s best to avoid.
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- General Cover Letter
- Career Change Cover Letter
- Cover Letter for Internal Position
- Entry Level Cover Letter
- Sample Cover Letters for 200+ Jobs
How to Choose the Perfect Cover Letter Greeting
A cover letter salutation is the greeting that you start off with at the beginning of your cover letter. Including a professional cover letter salutation sets the proper tone of the rest of your cover letter and job application.
You’re in one of two situations—either you know the name of the hiring manager of the job you’re applying to or you don’t. Let’s see what options you can choose from.
Good Salutations for Cover Letters When You Know Their Name
If you know the name of the hiring manager, then your task is super simple. There is one snag you need to look out for though—gender-neutral names. If the hiring manager has a name that doesn’t make it 150% obvious what gender they are, don’t try to guess. Instead, use their full name and avoid potential embarrassment.
Remember to include formal titles if they are used by the hiring manager. In the case of women, it’s always best to use “Ms.” and never assume that they are married even with a hyphenated last name.
Cover Letter Greetings—Examples
Dear Mr. Roley,
Dear Ms. Hanley,
Dear Dr. Waters,
Dear Rev. Clyne,
Dear Casey Mathers,
Dear Ms. Folger-Bern,
That’s simple, right?
Now, what about cases where the ad just says “contact us” and you don’t know who “us” is?
Cover Letter Greetings with No Name
First and foremost you should do a little digging to find out. Check the job ad, company website, or just call to find out a name or title. If that fails, you can use a few standard, general cover letter salutations like "Dear Hiring Manager" to get the ball rolling.
Cover Letter Salutations—Examples
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dear HR Manager,
- Dear Recruiter,
- Dear [title of the person you would be reporting to],
- Dear Recruiting Manager,
- Dear Recruiting Team,
- Dear Human Resources Manager,
Remember to capitalize the nouns when using a general cover letter greeting.
Read more: How to Start a Cover Letter
Cover Letter Salutations You Should Avoid
All cover letter salutations aren’t created equal.
Out of all of the salutations to choose from, there are definitely a few that you should avoid in most cases:
- Hi or Hello—unless the hiring manager is your mom, you should never be this chummy with your potential employer. Even if you’re applying to a company with relaxed standards, these cover letter greetings are way too chilled.
- To Whom It May Concern—this one is super tricky. This is a rather outdated cover letter greeting. Recruiters may read it and think right off the bat that your whole job application is generic. That said, you can use this if you really couldn’t get a hold of a name or title.
- Dear Sir or Madam—the same rules apply here as for “To Whom It May Concern”.
Read more: Who to Address a Cover Letter To
How to Write a Cover Letter Salutation
It’s not enough to know which cover letter salutation to choose, you also need to know where it goes as a part of the covering letter format. A cover letter isn’t a normal letter, so you would never start off with your cover letter greeting at the very top. The only exception is an email cover letter.
Your cover letter should start with your personal and contact details. Below that, you should add the company details. Then you add the date and location. After all of that, you add the appropriate cover letter salutation. This may seem trivial, but keeping proper format shows the hiring manager something about you.
Read more: Professional Cover Letter Heading Format
Cover Letter Closing Salutations
The formal cover letter sign off you add to the end of your letter isn’t actually a cover letter closing salutation, though some do call it that. These are, in reality, cover letter complimentary closes since, as the name suggests, they close off your cover letter.
The same rules apply though. Your cover letter sign-off should be just as professional as your cover letter salutation. Never use closings that are too friendly like “Yours”, “Bye”, or “Take care”.
Read more: How to Sign Off a Cover Letter
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Remember, your greeting is the first thing that the hiring manager sees when they start to read your cover letter. Choose the wrong salutation and the recruiter might decide then and there that you’re not worth the time.
When thinking of the proper salutation for your cover letter, remember:
- Avoid old-fashioned salutations that look lazy (such as To whom it may concern or Dear Sir or Madam).
- Use the correct titles in front of a person’s name.
- Choose a modern general cover salutation if you couldn’t find any name despite searching.
That’s it! It wasn’t that bad, was it?
Have any questions about how to write a cover letter salutation? Drop a comment down below!