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  3. Finding the right cover letter salutation. With examples and do's and don'ts!
Finding the right cover letter salutation. With examples and do's and don'ts!

Finding the right cover letter salutation. With examples and do's and don'ts!

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • What is a proper cover letter salutation?
  • 1. Company culture
  • 2. Use full name
  • 3. Avoid being generic
  • 4. Don’t be too casual
  • 5. Test it out!
  • 5 Cover letter salutation examples
  • How to write a cover letter salutation to an unknown recipient
  • Do’s and don’ts of cover letter salutations
  • Key takeaways

Crafting an effective cover letter salutation is the first step in getting noticed by a hiring manager. Set the tone and establish a personal connection with the hiring manager by learning the do’s and don’ts of writing a salutation for your cover letter.

One thing that’s common about all industries is that the job market is competitive. You need a cover letter that stands out if you want to move past the initial phase of the application process. Crafting a proper cover letter salutation is your first opportunity to do that.

In this blog, we will learn:

  • What is a proper cover letter salutation?

  • How to write a cover letter salutation to an unknown recipient

  • Do’s and don’ts of cover letter salutations

What is a proper cover letter salutation?

Your cover letter salutation is the first impression your hiring manager will have of you. It also helps to set the tone of your entire letter. So, you need a greeting that shows both your personality and your professionalism. 

Here are five key factors that go into writing an eye-catching salutation:

1. Company culture

Every industry and every company has a slightly different culture that can affect how you craft a cover letter greeting. While one company may require an ultra-formal salutation, another may look more favorably at something a little more relaxed. To determine which greeting is best for your cover letter, research the company to learn what style would be appropriate.

2. Use full name

Whenever possible, use the full name of your cover letter’s recipient. Not only does this add a personalized touch to your cover letter, but it also shows you made the effort to research the company. 

Expert Tip

When using a specific name, carefully check your spelling. This is also true for the individual’s title if you choose to include it.

3. Avoid being generic

At one time, “To Whom It May Concern” was commonly seen on cover letters. These days, it is best to avoid generic greetings because they can seem impersonal. It also may give a hiring manager the impression that you are lazy since you didn’t research the company for a proper contact.

4. Don’t be too casual

Adding some of your personality is a great idea, but you shouldn’t overdo it. Keep your salutation formal and professional whenever possible. Some examples of overly casual greetings include “Hi There!” or “Greetings!”

5. Test it out!

Before sending out your cover letter, have a trusted colleague or mentor read it. Ask them specifically about your cover letter’s salutation and how effective and impactful it is. You can also provide them with alternatives. Remember, you’re looking for a salutation that matches the tone of your letter and the expectations of the hiring manager.

5 Cover letter salutation examples

Now, let’s take a look at some examples of cover letter salutations that you might find effective. As mentioned, you should customize your greeting based on the information you have about the company, the contact receiving your cover letter, and the position itself.

When writing a cover letter, here are five salutations you can consider:

  • Dear [Hiring Manager’s Last Name],

  • Dear [Department Head’s Name],

  • Dear [First Name] [Last Name],

  • Dear [Position Title] Hiring Team,

  • To the Attention of [Hiring Manager’s Name],

How to write a cover letter salutation to an unknown recipient

Even with all the tools we have available for research purposes, it isn’t always possible to find the name of the person you need to send a cover letter to. When that is the case, you still need a formal, clear, and eye-catching greeting. 

Here are some tips and examples that can help:

  • Dear Hiring Manager. This is the most common cover letter salutation to use when the name of a recipient is unknown. It effectively portrays your professionalism and is versatile for just about every position. This cover letter greeting is also neutral, so it’s both friendly and formal.

  • Dear [Department Name] Manager/Department. Naming the specific department in your greeting is another great option. It gives you the option to personalize without appearing generic, and it also ensures the correct department receives your letter.

  • Dear Hiring Team. If you’ve determined that more than one person will be overseeing the hiring process, referring to the hiring team in your cover letter is something to consider. This inclusive salutation is a good alternative to listing each name individually.

  • Dear [Company Name] Human Resources. The human resources department is sometimes the first to read cover letters. Addressing your cover letter to the HR department could catch their eye. While it may lack personalization, it is still a polite, appropriate way to address the company. 

  • Dear [Position Title]. This is a salutation to use when you know the position of the hiring manager but are unable to find their full name. It’s effective because it allows you to personalize the letter as much as you can and demonstrates your knowledge about the company.

Do’s and don’ts of cover letter salutations

Even though a cover letter salutation is just a small part of the process, it is possible to make mistakes when writing it. To ensure you don’t make any mistakes with your salutation, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:

  • Use formal titles correctly and only when appropriate.
  • Follow the instructions of the job listing.
  • Always include a salutation, even when you don’t know your hiring manager’s name.
  • Assume the recipient’s gender based on their name.
  • Make the mistake of using the wrong title for the recipient of your letter.
  • Underestimate the power of your cover letter salutation to give you a good (or bad) first impression.

If you are ready to write a cover letter for your job search, our cover letter builder can help make the process a lot simpler.

Key takeaways

  1. Whenever possible, you should write a cover letter salutation that is personalized, professional, and fits with the company’s culture.

  2. Avoid using a cover letter greeting that is informal or seems as though you are overly familiar with the recipient.

  3. Use titles correctly, follow the job listing’s instructions, don’t assume a recipient’s gender, and don’t use the wrong title when writing a salutation.

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