Best Alternative Salutations for “To Whom It May Concern” on a Cover Letter
15 December 20215 min read
Wisedoc Expert Team

Looking for a job is a job in itself! You're essentially competing with hundreds, possibly thousands of other candidates, and your resume could get ignored if you don't have a lasting first impression of your cover letter.

When you're job-hunting, your main goal is to impress the hiring manager and get the job. Your cover letter provides the hiring manager with the first impression of you, and you want to stand out in the crowd by showing your attention to detail in the cover letter's salutation.

However, many job applicants automatically think that using "To Whom It May Concern" is the norm and acceptable. With several salutation alternatives available, it can likely confuse you, and your choice can be the ultimate factor in whether you get a call for an interview or not.

Let's explore when it's appropriate to use "To Whom It May Concern" and discuss a few alternatives that could be better options for your cover letter.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:
  1. Should You Use "To Whom It May Concern" in a Cover Letter?
  2. When to Use "To Whom It May Concern?"
  3. When to Avoid Using "To Whom It May Concern?"
  4. Alternatives to "To Whom It May Concern"
Should You Use "To Whom It May Concern" in a Cover Letter?
You should only say "To Whom It May Concern" on a cover letter if you have no other option.

The salutation is mainly used for business correspondence when the recipient is not known and will come across as impersonal, generic, and lazy when you're trying to impress a hiring manager.

If you don't know who the hiring manager is, you can do a quick internet search, or go straight to the company's website, or even visit their Linkedin to find contact information. This act will make you look interested in the position and differentiate your resume's cover letter from the other candidates.

There may be instances where there are no details available on the internet, but you can avoid using "To Whom It May Concern" and replace it with an alternative salutation.

When to Use "To Whom It May Concern?"

For most cover letters, the conventional salutation may be considered obsolete, but there are times when saying 'To Whom It May Concern' is suitable. The following are some examples of when you should use 'To Whom It May Concern.'

[Fig2] to whom it may concern

  • Writing a personal reference or letter of recommendation: If someone asks you to write a [letter of recommendation]( or a personal reference for a position on their behalf, the gender-neutral 'To Whom It May Concern' or 'Dear Hiring Manager' is acceptable.
  • Writing a letter to potential clients: Using "To Whom It May Concern" is appropriate if you send out cold emails or email campaigns to attract new clients, and you don't have the name and contact details of the person in charge of making sales decisions.
  • Providing customer feedback to a company: When providing feedback to a company, you may not know who is responsible for receiving customer feedback. The salutation will come across as professional and inclusive.
  • Making a new client connection: When introducing yourself to a prospective client, you want to stick to a gender-neutral salutation, as you may not know the gender of the recipient
  • Including a cover letter addressed to an unknown recipient: When sending your resume, some companies don't have any direct contact information available. As a result, to maximize your chances of success, keep your cover letter professional. When writing "To Whom It May Concern," it's imperative you capitalize all five words.
When to Avoid Using "To Whom It May Concern?"

There are many instances when you should avoid using "To Whom It May Concern" on a cover letter. Let's look at a few examples of when you should use an alternative salutation:

  • The company's website has an "About Us" page: Researching a company allows you the opportunity to stand out from the other candidates. You get to learn about the people who work there, and you can use this information to write a standout cover letter addressed to the person responsible for the hiring process.
  • The job posting has the hiring manager's contact information: Most job postings have the hiring manager's name and email address. Pay attention to this information on job postings, and you'll come across as interested in the position and professional.
  • You have access to insider information: You may know someone who works for the company you're applying with. Your acquaintance can provide you with the person's contact information responsible for reviewing your application.
  • A professional website lists a specific recruiter: Companies often use several professional websites to attract and recruit candidates. The recruiter or hiring manager's direct contact information is usually available on these websites.
  • Information can be obtained via the customer service department: Get creative and call or email the company's customer service department and ask them to provide you with the contact details of the hiring manager.

Alternatives to "To Whom It May Concern"

Here are some better alternatives to "To Whom It May Concern" that demonstrate that you put some thought into your application.

  • Dear (Full Name): If both the first and last name are known, it is acceptable to omit the title and address the person by their full name. But please be cautious, do not mention name if you’re not so confident on first and last name.
  • Dear (Dr./Professor/Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss): This is likely the most acceptable because it's the most personal and directly acknowledges a person's identity and builds a strong foundation and positive interaction.
  • Dear (Job title): If you don't know who will be reviewing your application but know the person's role, you can use the actual job title as the salutation on the cover letter. Examples include HR Manager, Hiring Manager, Human Resources Representative, etc. You will be acknowledging the role and responsibility while distinguishing your cover letter from others.
  • Hello Hiring Manager: This salutation is a safe option as most companies have hiring managers who review job applications.
  • Greetings (Department) Head: Some company's value their privacy and don't give access to hiring managers' information. If this is the case, refer your cover letter to a specific department, such as Human Resources.
  • Dear (Team or Department): It's best to use an inclusive salutation addressing more than one person if you know your application will be reviewed by a hiring committee or an entire department. You will portray yourself as professional and show them that you will be the perfect fit for their company culture.
  • Remove the salutation: There are so many hiring managers who don't bother to read your salutation as they're too busy skimming through your cover letter and [resume]( Eliminating the salutation can be a good option if you have enough information in your cover letter to make you stand out from the get-go.
The Bottom Line

Remember that your ultimate goal is to get to the next step in the hiring process. Every hiring person or recruiter has a name, even if you don't know it yet. By putting in effort into your cover letter's salutation, you will automatically stand out amongst the other candidates, potentially getting you an interview.

Try It For Free
Try It For Free


Wisedoc Expert Team
Wisedoc's team of experts organizes the key learnings of career growth from recruiter's point of view and help users to add right content in their career profiles.