To Whom It May Concern: Give me something better!

How to address a cover letter has been a heated debate in career circles for a long time.

In fact, I was adamantly opposed to “To Whom It May Concern” for years until about a year or two ago. It was then that I decided that TWIMC was better than all the other salutations out there.

For those of you who hire and recruit, what do you suggest? Is it better to leave it blank? Should applicants use some other phrase like “To the Hiring Manager” or “To the Decision Maker”? (YUCK!)

And for everyone: what are your suggestions for finding the right person to address in your letter.

Educate me!

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LeAnn C Cook

I have gone to the company or agency’s website to see if they have the HR staff listed and if so then I chose the appropriate individual. However, one downfall to this is if the webmaster or individual who is responsible for the website does not update the site on a regular basis and the information is incorrect.

Kathryn Troutman

Hi Paul, I wrote an emergency cover letter for a client last evening — My client was applying for her own job at a national park and she wanted me to help her emphasize that point. She worked there 7 years already. I’m crossing my fingers. BUT … to be very fast and efficient with the letter, I used my handy-dandy Cover Letter Builder to write a simple, straightforward letter. Check it out everyone! It’s free and it’s awesome.

The Builder follows your format, Paul. Just like building a great hamburger!

Dorothy Ramienski Amatucci

Whenever I apply for a job, I always try to use a name, if possible. I also try to write a different cover letter for each job and highlight specific aspects of the organization within. I don’t think you ever want your cover letter to look like you wrote one … and then were done.

Corey McCarren

Of course use a name if at all possible, I’ve used “Dear Hiring Manager” if I couldn’t find a name though. I’d love to hear your opinion on that one, but it always seemed like a safe one to me.

Judson Vaughn

I like “Good morning.” Its friendly. Its positive. Yet its non-commital and non-denominational. It sounds much better than “to whom”. Jud.

Andy Lowenthal

Honestly? As a hiring manager, it doesn’t make a difference to me. A thoughtful cover letter that packs a punch in a few short paragraphs can be preceded by “Yo dude” and I wouldn’t think twice. #millenial

Judson Vaughn

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that “Good morning” works way better than “Yo dude,” But, of course, like you say, Andy, the content of the letter is the main attraction.

Allison Primack

I posted this to GovLoop’s LinkedIn, and got the following responses…