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Cover Letter Format Name Unknown

Often, when you are sending a resume electronically or applying for a job via a company job board, it can be difficult to know who will be reviewing your documents. While it is important to include a cover letter, it might feel strange or impersonal when you are not addressing the letter to a specific person. However, there are ways you can make an anonymous-feeling submission sound professional.

Try to Narrow the Name Field

You can increase the odds of your cover letter and resume getting a review if you address it to the decision-making party in the company. Employ every resource to track down the name of the appropriate contact person before you send a cover letter to an unnamed person. Check the company website and look for the name of the hiring manager, or the head of human resources. You may also search for the name of the head of the department you want to work with. If all efforts fail, call the company operator or receptionist and, for example, say, “I’m submitting a resume for the open graphic designer position. To whom should I address it?"

When There’s Absolutely No Name

Of course, many receptionists tell callers, “Just use the online submission form, it will go to the right people,” as a way of gate-keeping for higher-ups. If your only option is addressing your cover letter to an unnamed employer, consider these introductions:

  •          To Whom it May Concern 
  •          Dear Sir/Madam 
  •          Attention: (Department Name) Hiring Manager 
  •          Attention: Human resources director 

Another option, particularly when you are asked to cut and paste a cover letter into an online submission form, is to simply launch into the body of the cover letter itself, starting out with an enthusiastic introduction.

Example:

I was very happy to learn the ABC Co. is looking for an experienced graphic designer. As you will see in my resume, I am an award-winning designer with more than 12 years of agency experience.

If you are using this approach, resist the urge to use a generic, all-purpose form letter. Personalize it as much as possible with specific details about the company so it is clear you are not sending out mass job applications, and have given serious thought to this particular job.

Example:

After reading about how ABC Co. won a workplace excellence award earlier this year, I have been enthusiastically checking your job openings with the hopes that something in my area of expertise would become available.

Why a Cover Letter is Important

Do not be deterred from sending a cover letter just because you are sending it to an unnamed party. Cover letters allow you to pull together and summarize all areas of your resume, CV or application, as well as go into detail about why you want the job. A cover letter also shows you have put thought and effort into your application, and it sets you apart as a professional with solid communication skills.

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

Suggest an Article Correction

You’ve always been told that you shouldn’t write, “To Whom It May Concern,” on your cover letter. But what should you do when you don’t have the name of the hiring manager?

Related: 11 Tips For Creating Compelling Cover Letters

Here’s today’s Q&A quick tip.

First, Track Down The Name

Obviously, it’s ideal to use the hiring manager’s name in the letter. So, the first thing you should do is try to track down the hiring manager’s name online (i.e. the company website, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).

You can also call up the company directly to ask for the name. Simply call up the company and say, “Hi, my name is ____ and I’m applying for a position at your company. Would it be possible for me to get the name of the hiring manager so I can address him or her in my cover letter?”

If All Fails, Use ‘Dear Hiring Team’

If the hiring manager’s name is nowhere to be found and the company is unwilling to give you his or her name, you should use “Dear Hiring Team” in your cover letter salutation.

By addressing your cover letter to the hiring team, you increase your chances of getting it in front of the right pair of eyes.

Why Can’t You Use Someone Else’s Name?

But what if you know the name of someone else (not involved with hiring) who works at the company? Can you just address it to them instead?

Absolutely not!

“That person may not be the person that’s hiring, and they could easily throw [your cover letter] in the trash,” said J.T. O’Donnell in a recent episode of Career Q&A. “You don’t know if they’re going to forward it to the right person or not. You DO NOT want to risk that.”

Need more help?

Is every element of your career plan working together to help you get the results you want? Are you confident that the career plan you’ve developed will get you out of your career rut for good? If you’re not getting the results you want out of your career, we can help. Find out how.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Ariella CoombsAriella is the Content Strategist and Career Coach for Work It Daily. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Follow her @AriellaCoombs or find her on Google+.

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