Your cover letter is an integral part of your application materials and provides you with a powerful opportunity to connect with a potential employer and offer additional insight beyond your resume. While there is great debate over whether cover letters are necessary, it is a missed opportunity if you neglect to send one. Now the question becomes, how should you address your cover letter?

Using ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ is a timeless approach, but at the same time, it is also incredibly outdated. Do you really want to be using the same salutation that your grandparents (or great grandparents) used? There are much better ways to address a potential employer and make a positive impression.

Here are a few reasons to skip this dated practice:

  • It is impersonal.

How often do you simply delete emails that start off with a generic greeting? Recipients respond better to messages that are personalized. Thanks to advances in technology, we are more connected than ever. Do your research and try to find the name of the person you want to connect with.

Look at the company’s website or search LinkedIn. Check job postings to see if it says who to direct message to. Google articles to see if a specific person is mentioned in a press release or feature. Chances are good that you can find something helpful.

Starting your cover letter with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ shows a lack of effort and initiative. It gives the impression that you’re spamming multiple companies and couldn’t be bothered or take the time to personalize your cover letter before sending it.

  • It is no longer inclusive.

We’re in the 21st century. You have no idea how the person receiving your cover letter identifies, and it may not be by sir or madam. Even if you know their first name, you cannot assume their gender. There are many names such as Jesse, Casey, Hayden, Jamie, and Avery that could be unisex or gender neutral. It is better to be safe and choose a more acceptable greeting than to make a poor first impression.

Alternative Options for Addressing Your Cover Letter

Let’s say that you’ve done your research and you cannot find a specific person’s name to direct your cover letter to. It happens. But that still doesn’t mean you should revert to using Sir or Madam. Here are some other approaches you can try:

  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear Recruiting Manager/Recruiting Team
  • Dear [Department] Manager
  • Dear [Department Name]
  • To Whom It May Concern

While ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is still relatively generic and nonspecific, it is inclusive of everyone. Finally, you could also start off with a simple ‘Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening’ and then launch into the body of your cover letter without directing it to anyone at all.

You want to show that you have put some thought and effort into creating a targeted message and not one that you are mass distributing to every job opening. It can be worth the extra time and potentially increase your chances of getting a response and standing out from other applicants who took the generic route.

Your cover letter is often your first impression when applying for a job, so make it count. Turn to the team at Grammar Chic for assistance with writing your resume and cover letter as you embark on a job search. Contact us at (803) 831-7444 or to get started.