How to Address a Cover Letter (With a Name, Without a Name) in 2020

how to address a cover letter example

Knowing how to address a cover letter can help tremendously when writing your letter. A proper start to your letter can make sure the hiring manager pays attention to your cover letter and continues to read it in its entirety. This leads to the hiring manager continuing to read your resume and potentially offering you a job interview, phone interview, or other next steps in the process.

The perfect cover letter is one that’s targeted to the job description, job advertisement, and prospective employer. From what you bring up in your first paragraph (your opening paragraph), second paragraph, and more. Your greeting is a key part of that targeting process. A generic greeting or generic salutation is what makes your letter feel like a generic cover letter. Which feels like a generic template you’ve used for each job application you’ve submitted to every potential employer.

Without the Contact Person or Hiring Manager’s Name

There are two methods of greetings that you should use. One where you know the specific person you’re addressing in your letter. This should be reflected in your cover letter greeting and first/second paragraph. And when you don’t know the name of who you’re addressing.

When you don’t know the contact name of the reader, your options, in order of importance are:

If you don’t want to use a cover letter salutation like this, you should seek out the hiring manager’s name. You can do this by looking at the job description, job posting (job advertisement), searching the company website, or company LinkedIn for the full name of the hiring manager. LinkedIn can be a powerful resource for finding the manager or recruiter involved with placing this specific position. Using the manager’s name is a preferred method.

Tip: Perform an informational interview to determine the name of the manager who is hiring for the position. For job seekers, this is a type of interview process where you ask someone who works within the company for career advice. Through this process, you can find out the name of the professional who is hiring for the role.

With the Contact Person or Hiring Manager’s Name

When you have the manager’s name, you can be more specific about how you address your letter. You can write a more effective cover letter since you can speak to the person in your letter. For example, in your first paragraph or second paragraph, you can address them by their first name.

Your options when addressing a female professional:

Your options when addressing a male professional:

Your options when addressing someone with a Ph.D:

Your options when addressing someone with a federal role:

Your options when addressing someone with a military role:

Your options when addressing someone with an academic role:

How to Format Your Salutation

There are two grammatical options for formatting your salutation:

Dear Mr. Jenkins:

Using a colon to start your letter. Or:

Dear Mr. Jenkins—

Using an em dash to start your letter. When emailing a cover letter, you should use this same salutation format.

Your Paragraphs

When you know the manager’s name, it’s okay to address them by name in your body paragraph, opening paragraph, and final paragraph of your cover letter. This makes it appear even more personalized and shows your writing skills.

Here is an example of using the manager’s name in the final paragraph:

I look forward to being able to speak with you about this position Mr. Sanderson. I have next Tuesday open for a phone interview if that works for you.

Cover Letter Example

Ian Smith
ian@smith.com
639-555-9984
Sales Associate

May 1st, 2013

Company Name
Manager's Name
Job Title
Dear Mr. Johnson:

I have always been told that I have a strong personality. One that is approachable, sociable, and more. This is why I feel like I'll be a perfect fit for your open Sales Associate position. I understand that the needs of the job are more than simply selling. But being a domain expert as well.

During my tenure as a previous Retail Associate I was able to:

  • Learn the inner workings of a highly detailed product and be able to sell it to customers.
  • Manage a sales floor as well as interact with customers and deal with customer support issues.
  • Collaborate, direct, and communicate efficiently to other retail and sales associates.
I look forward to interviewing with you. If there is any information that you'd like to see that I didn't include in my application, please feel free to contact me and I will return that to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Ian Smith
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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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