To Whom Should I Address My Cover Letter?

As a job seeker, you have the opportunity to step into many roles and use a variety of your skills to secure your next position. You act as a makeshift marketer presenting your personal brand in your cover letter, and you want to ensure you do as much as you can to stand out. When writing your cover letter, it is imperative that you address an individual with a personalized greeting. This is where it comes in handy to use your research skills and put on your professional sleuthing hat. These days, “Dear Hiring Manager” just won’t cut it.

Easier said than done when you can’t guarantee you know the contact in the company who will view your submission. It could be any of 100 or so recruiters or even the direct hiring manager. How do you know to whom you should direct your greeting? And the better question, how do you find that person?

Who

You may not be certain whether you should address your letter to a recruiter or a hiring manager. Remember that smaller companies may only have one recruiter, while at larger companies there could be hundreds – the chance of you choosing the right one is slim. Fortunately, recruiters also specialize. If you are applying for a marketing position and are able to find out who the marketing recruiter is, that is the perfect person’s name to address in your greeting. The recruiter will usually see your cover letter and can be the make-or-break for whether your letter will ever be placed in front of the hiring manager’s eyes. However, if you are certain you know who the hiring manager is, there is no harm in choosing this individual’s name. Whether recruiter or hiring manager, try to be as specific as possible. If you can’t find out who the direct hiring manager is but know the name of the department director, that could be your next choice.

Where to Find this Information

With the Internet, there are many great sources of company information you can peruse to find out who works at the company and what his or her role is. A great starting point is LinkedIn. If you search the name of the company and look at how you are connected, you may get lucky in your results with the hiring manager appearing. Otherwise, if you have an idea of a possible name, you can enter that person’s name and the company name in the “search people” bar or use the advanced filters. Another tactic is the ever-helpful company website that lists the names of the leadership team and sometimes other company employees. You might consider trying to find a press release if your hiring manager is the director of PR or looking in the company blog to see if any employees have authored articles or have been quoted in the news. If all else fails – guess. You won’t be penalized for writing the wrong name.

Why

A small detail can make a large impact. You may wonder why specifying a name is so important anyway? Addressing an individual shows you are detail-oriented and that you put effort into finding out a little more about the company, which indicates you have an interest in the role and company.

Who Not to Address It To

Try to avoid using the common phrase “Dear Hiring Manager.” As a rule of thumb, the wrong name is better than no name or entirely excluding a greeting. In the worst-case scenario, choose an executive or the CEO whose names you can usually find on the company website.

Just like with a birthday present, it’s the thought that counts.