The process of job searching typically entails a great deal of correspondence—and if you’re serious about making a positive impression on potential employers, it’s important that you personalize those correspondences.
What do we mean by personalize? Ultimately, you should really never begin an e-mail, thank-you-note, or cover letter with Dear Sir or Madam or To Whom it May Concern.
As you know from personal experience, these impersonal salutations always come across as spammy. When you get letters addressed like that in your own mail box, you probably throw them out immediately. And why would you think hiring managers would respond any differently?
The question is, how do you know how to personalize your correspondence? Hopefully, the job posting itself lists a specific contact person, in which case your job is pretty easy. Just make out the cover letter to either Dear Mr. [Last Name] or Dear Ms. [Last Name], and you should be good.
If no specific contact person is mentioned, of course, you’ll have to do some digging—on the company website first, and on the company LinkedIn page second. If you do your research and still can’t find a contact person from the hiring department, well, you’ve done your due diligence, and in this case you can get away with a generic greeting. Chances are, the person you’re writing to will be aware that he or she is tough to locate on the Web.
Once you actually make it into the office for an interview, you can always grab a business card of the person you interview with—ensuring you can personalize your handwritten thank-you note and all future e-mails.
And sending personalized follow-ups is something we recommend: It’s a small yet significant way to keep your name in front of hiring managers and decision makers, and to prove yourself to be an applicant of real distinction.