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How to Address a Cover Letter in 2024: Complete Guide

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The first line of your cover letter can make the recruiter squirm and reject your application, or read on. 

Don’t risk it! Learn how to address a cover letter the right way. I will teach you how to do it right, either when you know who to address a cover letter to or if you have no clue. Let's begin!

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

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:

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

RIGHT
  • Dear Sarah,
  • Dear Gerald White,
  • Dear Ms. Sageville
  • Dear Mr. Eisensteen

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 alliefenestra@company.co 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:

RIGHT

Dear Dr. Whitelight,

Dear Professor Maple,

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:

RIGHT
  • Dear Project Manager Hiring Team,
  • Dear Sales Associate Hiring Manager,
  • Dear School Committee,
  • Dear Software Development Team,

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

We evaluated 11 million resumes created using our builder and found that these are the top 10 professions that often include a cover letter:

  • Business Operation Specialists
  • Top Executives
  • Advertising, Marketing, and PR Managers
  • Clerks
  • Engineers
  • Retail & Sales Representatives
  • Healthcare Practitioners
  • Financial Specialists
  • Teachers and Instructors
  • Counselors, social workers, and social service specialists

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 

WRONG

Hello Mary,

Hi Steve!

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

2. Using Dear Sir or Madam

WRONG
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

WRONG
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

WRONG
Dear Human Resources Director,

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:

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 addressing your cover letter to a specific person, address them by their name and title. If not, consider addressing the cover letter to "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear Human Resources."
  • You can always start your cover letter with “Dear Hiring Manager,” but there are some alternatives, like "Dear Human Resources", or "Dear [Team] Manager."
  • If you’re not sure who to address a cover letter to, do your best to learn the hiring manager’s name.
  • Avoid informal salutations and 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Address a Cover Letter

How to address a cover letter?

If you know the hiring manager's name and gender, you can start a cover letter with, e.g. "Dear Lucy" or "Dear Ms. Lucy". Avoid using "Mrs." and "Miss" titles when addressing a woman unless you're sure that she prefers them over "Ms."

You can also address the hiring manager using just their last name or both the first and last name. If you know that they have a title like Dr., Professor, and so on, use it instead of their first name.

How to address a cover letter without a name?

How to address a cover letter to an unknown recipient? Skipping the cover letter salutation is one of the ways to solve this problem. You can start your cover letter with "Dear Hiring Manager". It's a much better solution than the generic "To Whom It May Concern" in your cover letter.

Who do you address a cover letter to?

When addressing a standard or an email cover letter, first try to identify the hiring manager's name. Always address your cover letter to the hiring manager—also when you know that it will go through the hands of a recruiter.

However, if you can't figure out the hiring manager's identity, you can also address your cover letter using a general salutation, e.g. "Dear Social Media Manager Hiring Team" or "To the Digital Marketing Recruitment Team". Skipping the cover letter greeting or starting with "Dear Hiring Manager" is also an option.

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Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Tom Gerencer is a career expert and Certified Professional Resume Writer who has published over 200 in-depth articles on Zety. Since 2016, he has been sharing advice on all things recruitment from writing winning resumes and cover letters to getting a promotion.
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