670px-Write-a-Cover-Letter-Step-9You’ve found a great job opening, polished up your resume, tweaked your cover letter, and you’re ready to go – almost. Still lingering is the empty space where you address your cover letter to someone. But who should it be? Do you go with the generic standby of “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”? Do you keep searching to make it more personalized?

Your best bet is to try to make it as personalized as possible. Think about when you get mail. What is your first impression of a letter that is addressed to “Resident” or “Head of Household”? Impersonal, right? The same goes for your cover letter. Using a generic greeting can make your application blend in with the multitude of others. There is nothing to show that you took the initiative to learn more about the company or appeal to the hiring manager.

Sometimes the job posting will specify who you should address all materials to. This is a great help, but not all companies provide these details. Here are some other ways you can find out:

  • Scope the company out online. Look at their website, social media pages, articles, and other resources to try to determine who the hiring manager is. The Internet is full of information and there is a good chance that you can find a more specific person to address your application to.
  • Use your connections. If you know someone at the company or have a friend who does, ask them to guide you in the right direction. They probably either know who you should be sending your cover letter and resume to, or they can find out fairly easily. This is when it pays off to network and build strong connections.
  • Call the company. Still stumped? Be proactive and ask. Give the company a call and simply inquire who you should address your cover letter to, or who the hiring manager is for a certain position. With good customer service, you’ll hopefully find your answer.

If you’ve run out of options and your search efforts aren’t turning up usable results, you may have to resort to something slightly less personalized. “To Whom it May Concern” and “Sir or Madam” should still be off the table. You could target the head of the department you are applying to in an effort to direct it to someone who may be part of the hiring process. You could also use a more general “Dear Hiring Team” so that it is applicable to more than one person, or go a little further to say, “Dear Account Specialist Hiring Team” or something of the like.

You want to show that you put forth the effort to tailor your cover letter and direct it to the correct person. For some positions, this is easier than others. Your research will also help you to get a better feel for the company and how you would fit in.

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