How to Address Your Cover Letter

How to Address Your Cover Letter

One of the worst things a job applicant can be is boring. And if you write "To Whom It May Concern" at the top of your cover letter, you're doing just that. While many job applicants still use those words to address the person reading their cover letter, there are better ways for you to kick off the introduction. Find out how you should address your next cover letter.

Why It Matters

Does the way you address your cover letter actually matter? To be honest, every little thing you do when you apply for a job matters. Your cover letter is, under most circumstances, the first thing a prospective employer sees. As they read it, the employer uses your words to create a first impression.

Further on in the hiring process, that impression remains. You could be a perfect fit for the job, but overcoming an underwhelming first impression isn't easy. You'll need to work harder than you would have because of a lackluster cover letter.

Of course, the address is the first thing a hiring manager sees in a cover letter. Why start things off with something boring and detached? In today's world, employers value creativity. They want to know that you think outside of the box and don't blindly follow.

Show Your Effort

It's not uncommon for people in the job market to apply for positions with generic cover letters. As soon as an applicant sees a listing, they might send out their cover letter and resume. But an employer wants to know that their job matters to you.

If you address the cover letter properly, you show your interest in the position. You took the time to write a unique cover letter and to research the company. Such a minor detail demonstrates your passion or your apathy, depending on how you address the letter.

Cover Letters Aren't What They Seem

Most people think of cover letters as introductions to resumes. However, cover letters have a much more valuable role. They're not an introduction to your resume, but an additional document that says a lot about a job applicant.

For your resume to ever get into the hands of the right person, you need a compelling cover letter. It all starts with addressing the letter to the right person.

The Two Biggest Mistakes

Typically, a job applicant makes one of two mistakes when they write their cover letter. The first mistake is to leave the address general. For instance, you might say "To Whom It May Concern", "Dear Hiring Manager," or "Dear Sir/Madam."

People often do this because they think it's the way things are supposed to be done. However, it's a critical mistake. When it comes to finding a new job, speaking in generalities is never a good idea.

The second mistake is to address the letter to the wrong person. If the job listing doesn't specify who to send the resume to, you may choose to make an assumption. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee your assumption is right.

If the job letter has no specific instructions, deciding how to address the cover letter is a struggle. You don't want to be impersonal, but you also don't want to get it wrong. Unless you follow the tips below, you could insult the reader or look unprepared.

Tips for Addressing Your Cover Letter

Instead of commencing the hiring process on the wrong foot, follow these tips and properly address your cover letter.

Never Address It to the Recruiter

The corporate recruiter is a person you want to impress. However, they're not the one reading your cover letter. Recruiters don't usually read cover letters, so addressing your cover letter to a recruiter won't have the desired effect.

This is because recruiters already have a lengthy process to go through. If they took the time to read cover letters, the process would be even longer. Usually, the hiring manager is more likely to read the cover letter. They have fewer applications to go through, which makes the managers more likely to read cover letters.

Research the Hiring Manager's Name on Their Website

It also may be helpful to do some research. If you check out the company's website and social media, you might be able to find out the name of the hiring manager. However, this isn't always easy to do and could result in an improperly addressed letter.

To start your search, read the job listing with care. Does it say who you would report to? If so, use that name in your cover letter. Otherwise, check out the company's website. On the "About" or "Directory" page, there may be information regarding the heads of the department or the hiring managers. For larger companies, the hiring manager should be specific to your job or area.

Finding out the identity of the hiring manager helps you with more than just addressing your cover letter. It also gives you some insight into the person reading your letter. If you know your audience, you can write a more appealing letter.

Check LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a useful resource for networking as well as detective work. To find the name of a hiring manager at a certain company, use the LinkedIn search feature. The results could tell you who is in charge of the hiring of your department.

Use a Personalized Approach

Whatever you do, be sure it has a personalized approach. Even if you can't find the name of the hiring manager, be more specific than "To Whom It May Concern." Consider this example:

You're applying for a job as a customer service representative. At the start of your cover letter, you could say, "Dear Customer Service Team Manager." The title might not be exactly what the company uses, but it's better than a non-descript address. At the very least, your efforts will show that you care about the position.

Throughout the hiring process, maintain this personalized approach. It could be what sets you apart from everyone else.

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