Even in the age of digital communication, you still need a cover letter when you send along your resume for a job. The cover letter introduces you to the company. It also gives you an opportunity to explain your skills and why you think you are a match for the position. The salutation in a cover letter, if done correctly, shows that you are polite and considerate and really interested in the job.
Dear Mr. or Ms.
Unless the person is a doctor or has another title, use "Mr." for men and "Ms." for women. Try to avoid using "Miss" or "Mrs." for women to avoid any offense. Always use the name of the person to whom you should address the cover letter. Knowing the name of the person shows that you have taken the initiative to learn more about the company. Double check the spelling of the person's name before you send off the letter. If the person has a first name that could be the name of a man or a woman, use his or her full name in the salutation, for example "Dear Terry Smith."
Finding the Name
Some job postings include the name of the person to address the cover letter to. If you cannot find the name in the posting or by searching the company's website, contact the company, either by phone or email. You only need to reach a receptionist or administrative assistant to discover the person's name. It's best to always avoid using a generic salutation such as "To Whom It May Concern," "Dear Madam or Sir" or "Dear Hiring Manager."
A cover letter needs to be formal. Use a colon at the end of the salutation to show that you are writing a professional letter. Also use "Dear" instead of any other greeting. A greeting such as "Good Day" or "Hello" is not formal enough for a business letter. Save those salutations for personal emails or letters to people who are not in a position to hire you.
How you close the letter is as important as how you open it. "Sincerely," followed by a few spaces and your full name, is a fool-proof way to close the letter. Sincerely is formal but not too stuffy. Before you type the closing, you may wish to write a sentence thanking the person for her time, such as "Thank you for your consideration." Other appropriate closings include "Kind regards" or "Best wishes." Closings such as "Yours truly" are usually too personal for a professional cover letter.
About the Author
Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.
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How to Choose the Right Cover Letter Greeting
The Appropriate Greeting Makes a Good First Impression
When writing a cover letter, it’s important to use an appropriate greeting. Whether your letter is being sent via post or email, and how well you know the recipient will influence how to choose the right greeting for your cover letter. Your cover letter greeting will also vary depending on whether you are writing a formal job application letter, an email cover letter, or an informal inquiry about opportunities at an acquaintance's company
Why are Cover Letter Greetings Important?
Since the greeting is the first thing the recipient will see when they read your cover letter, it's important that you convey an appropriate level of familiarity and respect. Casual greetings like “Hello”and “Hi” can make your letter seem unprofessional. Likewise, “To Whom It May Concern” is very impersonal and may make it seem as if you didn't care enough to find out whom you should be addressing.
These mistakes can instantly impact your chances of getting an interview, particularly if the other candidates have similar skills and experience. It is essential to put your best foot forward when applying for jobs, and you need to start right at the beginning.
When to Use 'Dear' in a Cover Letter
“Dear” is appropriate in many circumstances, for example, when you know the person well, they are a business acquaintance, or they are a potential employer. If you know the person well, use their first name only.
For a potential employer, use Mr., Ms. or Dr. unless you have been asked to use their first name. Even if you know a woman is married, it is safer to use “Ms.” as opposed to “Mrs.”which has the potential to be offensive in certain circumstances. For a business acquaintance or associate, it will depend on how well you know the person.
If you are on a first name basis, use that. If you aren't sure, use Mr./Ms./Dr. Lastname or Mr./Ms./Dr. Firstname Lastname. If your contact name is gender neutral (i.e.,Taylor Brown) and you are unsure, Dear Taylor Brown is appropriate.
When to Use 'To Whom It May Concern' in a Cover Letter
Use To Whom It May Concern as a cover letter greeting only when you don't have a specific person to whom you are writing. You should first make every effort to find the name of a contact in the specific department that you are interested in. When making an inquiry with a company for unadvertised openings, this greeting may be most appropriate.
When to Use 'Hello' and 'Hi'
Reserve these casual greetings for personal email and refrain from using them in your job search unless you are very familiar with the person you're writing to. They are simply too informal, and it is not the most professional way begin the conversation if your goal is to land a job.
“Hello” is appropriate only in email correspondence. It should be used primarily with people you know well, but can be used in very casual circumstances.
“Hi” is appropriate only in casual email correspondence with people you personally know well. For example, if you're checking in with a close friend to find out if they've heard of a job opening at their company.
Finishing Your Letter
Your letter greeting will set the tone for what follows. Make sure your cover letter maintains a professional appearance, and includes relevant information to enhance your candidacy. Conclude with your thanks for the reader’s time and consideration, and an appropriate closing.