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Should You Use “To Whom It May Concern” In Your Cover Letter

Recruiter-backed alternatives to 'To Whom It May Concern'. Learn how to personalize your cover letter with tailored greetings, and get tips on researching the hiring manager's name to make a strong, professional first impression.

3 months ago   •   6 min read

One of the hardest parts of writing a cover letter is getting the greeting right. After all, it’s a letter, so you have to address it to someone...

But who do you address it to? You may have heard that it’s not a good idea to use “to whom it may concern” in your cover letter. But if you can’t use that phrase, what should you use instead?

One easy answer is “Dear hiring manager.” It’s to-the-point and respectful without being as impersonal.

However, if you can find the person’s name, that’s even better— and these days, with all the information available on company websites and LinkedIn, people may expect that if you care about getting this job, you’ll do enough research to learn their name.

In this article, we’ll discuss when you might be able to get away with using “to whom it may concern,” why it’s usually a bad idea, alternatives to this phrase, and how to become an expert researcher to find the name of the person who will be hiring you.

Let’s get started!

Key advice from a recruiter to keep in mind when trying to decide if you should start your cover letter with ‘To whom it may concern’

When it’s ok to use a generic greeting like “to whom it may concern”

Although "To whom it may concern" is seen as as outdated or impersonal in modern job markets, there are specific situations where you may still want to use it:

Formal or traditional industries

In academia, where traditions are respected, using "To Whom It May Concern" demonstrates an understanding of and respect for established protocols.

Research the culture of the industry or organization. If their communication typically uses a formal tone, you’re good to go.

Large organizations with unknown recipients

When you’re applying to a multinational corporation where you’re not exactly sure who will be reviewing your letter, and the company's communication style is generic. In this case, you can also use “Dear Hiring Manager” or one of the other alternatives we suggest later in this article.

With large organizations, you can use “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager” as a safe option when the company structure is complex and you can’t identify a specific person. However, try to at least send your greeting to the department (e.g., "To Whom It May Concern in the Marketing Department").

When personalization is not possible

If the job listing provides no specific contact information and your research yields no results.

It's better to use a generic yet respectful greeting than to guess incorrectly. However, if you can find any information at all, drop the generic greeting like a hot potato.

In cultures where it’s the norm

In certain cultures or regions, formal greetings are still the norm, especially in conservative sectors.

Understand the larger cultural context of the company. In some global markets, "To Whom It May Concern" is still standard practice.

When not to use a generic greeting

Even though there are a few cases where you can get away with it, the majority of the time using "To Whom It May Concern" is not your best option. Here are some situations where you should avoid it at all costs:

In modern, informal industries

In tech startups or creative fields like advertising or design, where more casual and innovative cultures thrive.

Many modern industries value personality and creativity. Using a generic and formal tone in your cover letter can suggest a lack of effort or research in understanding the company's culture.

When information is available

If the job listing includes the name of the hiring manager or if you've found the hiring manager through research.

In these cases, not using the hiring manager’s name can come across as lazy or imply that you don’t pay attention to details.

Small to mid-sized companies

Smaller organizations where teams are closely-knit and the hiring process is personal.

Using a generic salutation in more personal settings can imply a lack of genuine interest in the company and its people— not a great look.

Companies that emphasize personal connection

Organizations that value individuality and personal connection, which is often highlighted in their job postings or company culture pages.

A generic greeting may raise red flags with these companies, who often look for candidates who live out their values of personalization and individuality.

To sum up: if you’re not 100% sure that you can use “To Whom It May Concern,” don’t use it.

The best alternatives for “to whom it may concern”

Even if you need to use a generic phrase, there are way better options for the beginning of your cover letter than “to whom it may concern” in most cases.

Your choice depends on the information you have about the job posting and how comfortable you are with using informal/personal language. Here are some alternatives worth considering:

“Dear Hiring Manager”

This is one of the best ways to address the reader of a cover letter when you don’t know the recipient’s name. It’s professional, maintains respect for their role, respects their privacy, and is widely accepted.

“Dear [Job Title]”

If you're applying for a specific role but don't have a name, addressing the cover letter to the job title (or the job title’s supervisor) can work.

While "Dear Hiring Manager" is a more widely accepted way to start, "Dear [Job Title]" is specific and directly addresses the role you’re applying for.

You can use this alternative when you're aware of the job title for which you're applying and the company’s org chart. For instance, "Dear Marketing Manager" when applying for a marketing position.

“Hello [Department Name]”

This one is a good choice when you know the department you're applying to but not the individual. It demonstrates that you've done some research to identify the relevant department.

Use this when you know the specific department you’re applying to but don’t know the name of the hiring manager. For example, "Hello Marketing Department" when applying for a marketing role.

“Dear [Company Name] [Department Name] Team”

When you want to address a group of people, such as the entire HR team or a department, this option works well. It shows that you recognize the collaborative nature of the workplace and hiring process.

Choose this when you believe your cover letter may be reviewed by a team or multiple individuals within the organization. For example, "Dear ABC Company HR Team."

“Greetings”

This is a versatile and friendly alternative that maintains a polite tone (while avoiding assumptions).

Use "Greetings" when you have very limited information about the hiring manager or when you want to maintain a neutral and respectful tone.

“Hello Hiring Team”

If the company you’re applying for has a very casual company culture, and you know that a team will be reviewing applications, you can acknowledge their collective effort with this casual and friendly greeting.

Make sure that the company truly supports a casual approach. In some industries (like finance or law) or more formal companies, this is too informal and may be seen as disrespectful.

Strategies for finding the hiring manager's name

For many cover letters, your best bet is to find the name of the person who will actually be reviewing your application. You can often find the hiring manager’s name by following these steps:

Start with the job posting

Review the job posting or advertisement carefully. Sometimes, the name or contact information of the hiring manager is provided. Look for any details that indicate who you should address your application to.

Check the company website

Visit the company's official website and navigate to the "About Us" or "Contact Us" section. Look for executive profiles, department heads, or a directory that may list the hiring manager's name.

Social media

Check the company's social media profiles, especially LinkedIn and Twitter, for any mentions or posts by the hiring manager. They may share updates or insights that can help you identify them. On LinkedIn, search for the company's page and explore employee profiles to identify the hiring manager or relevant department head. Sometimes, LinkedIn profiles include details about their roles.

(Pro tip: before you reach out on LinkedIn, make sure you run your profile through LinkedIn Review so you’re ready to impress your potential future boss!)

Company directory

Some organizations maintain an online company directory with contact information for employees. Search for this directory on the company's website and see if you can find the hiring manager's name and title.

Contact the HR department

If all else fails, you can call or email the company's HR department and politely inquire about the name of the hiring manager or the appropriate contact person for the job application.

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do you write to whom it may concern on a cover letter

do you write to whom it may concern on a cover letter

Cover Letters 101: Should You Address Your Letter ‘To Whom It May Concern’?

W hen applying for jobs, the way you start your cover letter sets the tone for a good first impression. Many applicants wonder if they should stick with the old “To Whom It May Concern.” This phrase has been around for ages, but times have changed, and so have the expectations in the job market. Here’s why “To Whom It May Concern” might not be the best idea anymore and offers some smart alternatives to help your application catch an employer’s eye.

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Key Takeaways

  • “To Whom It May Concern” might be considered outdated and overly impersonal in today’s job market.
  • Personalizing your cover letter by addressing it to a specific person shows initiative and attention to detail.
  • There are several strategies to find the appropriate contact person if the job listing doesn’t provide a name.
  • Alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern” can help make a positive impression on your potential employer.
  • Tailoring your approach can enhance your career prospects and contribute to long-term wealth by increasing your chances of securing well-suited positions.

How To Make a Good Impression Beyond ‘To Whom It May Concern’

The job application process is your opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism, attention to detail and communication skills. Starting off on the right foot can have a positive impact on your career trajectory and, by extension, your long-term financial success. Here are some tips and alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern” that can help you make a lasting impression:

1. Do Your Homework

Before addressing your cover letter, take the time to research the company and find out who the hiring manager or the head of the department is. LinkedIn and the company’s website are excellent resources for this. Addressing the letter directly to this person shows that you’ve made an effort to understand the company and its team.

2. Use a Specific Job Title

If you cannot find a specific name, addressing the letter to a job title or department can still personalize your approach. For example, “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Human Resources Department” are preferable to the impersonal “To Whom It May Concern.”

3. Opt for a Warm Greeting

In cases where a direct name or title isn’t available, consider starting with a warm, yet professional greeting. “Dear Team at [Company Name]” can convey both respect and a personal touch.

4. When in Doubt, Ask

If the job listing provides a contact number or email for queries, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for the name of the hiring manager. This not only provides you with the correct name but also demonstrates your proactive nature.

Alternatives to ‘To Whom It May Concern’

If “To Whom It May Concern” isn’t cutting it, try these more personal options. They show you’re paying attention and you care:

  • “Dear Hiring Manager,”
  • “Dear [Department] Team,”
  • “Dear [Company Name] Team,”
  • “Greetings,”

Adding a personal touch right from the start can make your cover letter shine. After you’ve picked your opening, don’t forget to personalize the rest of your letter too.

When ‘To Whom It May Concern’ Is the Right Choice

There are few situations in job applications where “To Whom It May Concern” might still fit. This can happen when you’re applying to a large organization where the hiring team is not specified and you’ve exhausted all resources trying to find a certain contact.

It can also be relevant when submitting general inquiries to a company’s career department without applying for a specific role. In these cases, “To Whom It May Concern” can act as a formal and respectful way to address your cover letter, showing that you’ve made an effort to be professional in the absence of those details.

Make Small Changes To See Big Results

Taking the time to personalize your cover letter is more than a mere formality; it’s an investment in your career. By showing that you care about the details and are genuinely interested in the position, you’re more likely to capture the attention of potential employers. This not only increases your chances of landing an interview but also positions you as a strong candidate in a competitive job market.

Choosing a different opening for your cover letter is a simple change that can have big rewards. It can help you stand out and show you’re serious about the job. This can lead to interviews and, eventually, job offers. Landing a job that matches your skills and goals can really boost your happiness at work and your financial security. Choosing to skip “To Whom It May Concern” could be a small step toward a bigger, better career .

Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com : Cover Letters 101: Should You Address Your Letter ‘To Whom It May Concern’?

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To Whom It May Concern: When and How to Use It Properly

Karen Hertzberg

Once, in a time before nearly everyone had access to the Internet in the palms of their hands, it was common to begin business correspondence with the salutation To Whom It May Concern. But times have changed.

We’ll take a look at whether you should use To Whom It May Concern, explore a few alternatives, and talk about the only type of correspondence where this greeting is still acceptable.

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When not to use to whom it may concern

We can’t think of many good reasons to use To Whom It May Concern in an email or letter. But there are a few compelling reasons not to.

For starters, the phrase is old-fashioned and stuffy. (If you concentrate, you can almost hear it spoken in an affected posh accent, can’t you?) It’s a remnant from a time when business correspondence had a much more formal tone. These days, however, we aim for a natural, conversational style.

In some correspondence, To Whom It May Concern might even imply a degree of laziness on the sender’s part. Be honest—do you really not know who your email or letter concerns, or is it more that you can’t be bothered to find out? Be careful that To Whom It May Concern doesn’t show a lack of concern on your part.

Here’s a tip: The same guidelines apply to another formal generic greeting—Dear Sir/Madam. It’s equally stuffy and glaringly non-specific. You can do better!

RELATED:  7 Useful Tips on How to Write a Perfect Professional Email in English

Three alternatives to to whom it may concern

You can almost always  find another salutation . Let’s look at a few options.

1 Dear [Specific Person],

You’re savvy. You have the entire Internet (including LinkedIn) at your fingertips. If you know you’re writing directly to someone (a hiring manager, for example), do your homework and search out the relevant person. Yes, your letter may be passed along to other people, but those people will see that you cared enough to find the right person to address in the first place.

If your Internet search doesn’t reveal a contact name, you can always resort to the retro option—pick up the phone and make a call. There’s no need to be stealthy about asking for the person’s name, so be honest. If you’re looking for the name of a job contact, you might say something like “Hi! I’m applying for the marketing manager position and I’d like to personalize my cover letter. Could you tell me who’s responsible for talent acquisition for that job?”

2 Dear [Role], or Dear [Department],

If you can’t find an individual’s name, you can expand a bit and reference the person’s role or a specific department, instead. (E.g., Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Admissions Department.)

Sometimes, researching a contact name isn’t the best use of your time. A hiring manager, for example, doesn’t spend more than a few minutes looking at a  résumé , so the fact that your cover letter lacks personalization is probably not going to register as a red flag. At least you addressed the right department. Spend your time  writing an amazing cover letter instead.

3 Hello, or Greetings,

If you’re not reaching out to an individual, or if your message could be seen by a number of people, you can’t go wrong with a simple hello. Keep in mind that Hello and Greetings are slightly more casual than the other options we’ve listed, so they may not be the best option for things like cover letters or other formal business correspondence.

When is it okay to use to whom it may concern ?

Let’s say you’re writing a  letter of recommendation for a colleague. He’s going to be making multiple copies to hand out at interviews, and those letters are meant to be seen by anyone interested in hiring him. In this case, because the correspondence is generally considered formal, and because there’s no single specific addressee or department, To Whom It May Concern works.

Some cases where To Whom It May Concern is appropriate:

  • Letters of recommendation/reference
  • Formal complaints lodged with a company
  • Letters of introduction
  • Letters of interest / prospecting

Here’s a tip: Always format “To Whom It May Concern” with a capital letter at the beginning of each word. Follow it with a colon. Double-space before you begin the body of your letter.

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m writing to file a complaint about the service I received during my November 15 visit to your store.

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In most cases, though, try to narrow your focus rather than cast a broad net. Ask yourself “Who does this email concern?” If you can honestly answer “Anyone,” then feel free to use To Whom It May Concern. But if you can home in, whether on an individual (Mr. Smith) or a department (Admissions Department), always use the more specific approach.

do you write to whom it may concern on a cover letter

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To Whom It May Concern: How To Use It With Examples

  • Best Business Salutations
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To Whom It May Concern has become a controversial phrase. Some people think it’s lazy to use this greeting since the recipient’s name is usually somewhere on the internet, while others say that you can’t always know who the recipient will be, so “To Whom It May Concern” is the best choice.

In this article, we’ll cover when and how to use “To Whom It May Concern,” as well as alternatives and examples to help you pull all our tips together.

Key Takeaways:

“To Whom It May Concern” is appropriate to use:

When lodging a formal complaint

A letter of recommendation

A letter of introduction

You should not use this phrase when writing a cover letter or a letter on your own behalf.

To find the recipient’s name you should check the job listing, check the company’s website, and use networking websites before using the phrase.

How To Write

When to use “to whom it may concern”

Example use of the phrase, when not to use “to whom it may concern”, how to find the recipient’s name, alternative ways to say “to whom it may concern”, example of alternatives ways to say “to whom it may concern”, what does “to whom it may concern” mean, to whom it may concern faq, final thoughts.

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Here are some examples of when it is appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern:”

To lodge a formal complaint. When you aren’t satisfied with a situation, voicing a concern in a formal letter is an excellent way for you to do it. However, you might not know who you will need to address.

A letter of recommendation. Sometimes, a friend or coworker might need to list someone who knows them well as a reference , but they might be unsure who you will need to write the letter to.

A letter of introduction . In times where you need to introduce yourself or another individual to a large group via email, “To Whom It May Concern” can be an option to address a general audience.

A letter of interest . When you’re trying to find out about potential job positions that aren’t publically listed, you can send a letter of interest to sell yourself. However, you may not have a specific recipient in mind. Using “To Whom It May Concern” can be useful in these situations, but we still recommend using one of its alternatives instead.

A prospecting letter. People who work in sales and business development need to reach out to potential clients. Some companies are wary about giving away too many personal details to an outside salesperson.

In those cases, using a generic salutation like “To Whom It May Concern” may be appropriate — but it’s not exactly the most appealing first line of a sales pitch.

When using “To Whom It May Concern,” capitalize every word in the phrase. Then, follow it with a colon and double-space before you begin typing the body of your text.

To Whom It May Concern: I am writing this letter to bring to your attention how unsatisfied I am with your company’s customer service. On the morning of October 1, 2020, I made a call to your company’s customer service line and was treated rather rudely. It is appalling to me that a company with your standing would allow such unprofessionalism to take place. I have been a faithful client of your store, and feel completely devastated by this behavior. I expect your full cooperation and hope this issue can be resolved. Sincerely, Jane Smith

The phrase “To Whom It May Concern” sounds impersonal, and you never want your letter to sound too impersonal, even if it is formal. If possible, avoid using this phrase at all costs.

“To Whom It May Concern” is considered to be dated and too generic. Hiring managers want to make sure that the person they are bringing in is driven and will stop at nothing to get the job done.

In short, here are the times when not to use “To Whom It May Concern:”

You’re writing a cover letter . The point of a cover letter is to set yourself apart from the competition. When you begin your letter with an archaic phrase like “To Whom It May Concern,” you do stand out — just for all the wrong reasons.

You’re writing any letter on your own behalf. When you’re writing a recommendation letter for a friend or a letter of introduction for someone else, it’s fine to use “To Whom It May Concern.” That’s because you don’t know how the letter will be used or who it will be sent to; those decisions are up to whoever you gave the letter to.

You have literally any information about the recipient. Using “To Whom It May Concern” is basically admitting that you have no idea who this letter will concern — and that’s concerning for the recipient. If you’re sending a letter to an unknown entity in some department, for example, at least label it to “Dear [Department Name].”

Remember that rather than writing, “To Whom It May Concern,” including the recipient’s name in your letter or email shows that you are willing to put in the leg work and get the job done.

Read the job listing carefully . Go back to the original job posting and see if there is more information about the person you need to contact. Typically, companies and career websites will include the contact information at the bottom of the page .

Check the company’s website. Another way to verify a company’s personnel is to go directly to the source. Go to their official website and look through the “About Us” page– chances are you will find what you are looking for.

Use networking websites. You can also use a professional networking website such as LinkedIn. These pages are filled with business professionals. Search for the company’s profile. Usually, you will be able to find the appropriate person with a bit of research.

Call the company. As a last resort, reach out to the company’s main line or customer service number and ask for the hiring manager’s name.

If you are still unable to find the name of your prospective employer after taking all of these steps, you may then use the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” or one of the much more appealing alternatives below.

The good news is you are not stuck using this expression. When you are trying to greet someone, there are countless alternatives that can be used instead of saying, “To Whom It May Concern.” The great thing about the English language is that it allows us different ways to say the same something.

Here is a list of alternatives you can use in place of “To Whom It May Concern:”

Dear [Name of Potential Boss] – use a full name or a Mr./Ms./Dr. [Last Name]

Dear Recruiting Team

Dear [Job Title You’re Applying For] Hiring Team/Committee/Manager

Dear Hiring Manager

Dear Recruiter

Dear Recruiting Manager

Dear Recruiting Department

Dear Human Resources Manager

Dear [Name of the Department You’re Applying To]

Dear Personnel Manager

Try to avoid using the phrase “ Dear Sir or Madam ,” just like “To Whom It May Concern.” This, too, is considered to be an outdated way of addressing a recipient.

If you cannot find the recipient’s name and do not want to risk sounding too generic, you can always call them by their official titles, such as a hiring manager, a recruiter , or a human resources manager .

Dear Product Department, I hope this finds you well. I am writing to find out more about your company and if you have any openings. I saw your booth at the job fair last week, and from what I have learned, it could be a great place to work. Thank you again for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Joe Smith
Dear Hiring Manager, My name is Jane Smith, and I recently applied for the Project Manager opening at your company. I wanted to take this time to formally introduce myself to you and your staff. And I am excited about this opportunity. I am sure that my background and skills will make me an ideal candidate for this position and your company. Would it be possible for us to set up an appointment to meet this week? I would love to get to know you and discuss what I plan to bring to your organization. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to speaking with you. Best Regards, Jane Smith

“To Whom It May Concern” is typically used as a salutation at the beginning of a letter or email. It is generally used to speak to someone whose name you do not know but would like to address in the message.

“To Whom It May Concern” is now considered outdated. Back in the day, when a company posted a job, all you had access to was the company’s name and a brief description of the position you were applying to at the company.

It was highly uncommon for companies to list the hiring manager’s name. There was no easy way for you to gain access to this information — therefore, people would address the letters to whomever the message concerned, hence the phrase.

Now, however, having information about any company is as simple as clicking a button. Most businesses or corporations have an entire section dedicated to their staff. Here you will be able to find the names you need.

Though using the phrase may be considered standard practice, some hiring managers might view it as laziness on behalf of the applicant. However, there are certain instances where it is considered entirely appropriate to use this phrase.

What is the correct way to write “To Whom It May Concern?”

The correct way to write “To Whom It May Concern” is to capitalize the first letter of each word. Be sure to always use “whom” instead of “who” or “whomever.”

It’s also more appropriate to follow the phrase with a colon rather than a comma and add two spaces before beginning your message. Using this phrase suggests a formal letter and should only be used when you’re sending something to an unknown recipient.

Is “To Whom It May Concern” rude?

No, “To Whom It May Concern” is not rude. It is the proper address to use when you’re uncertain who it is you’re addressing.

However, if you know the person you are addressing, using the phrase to whom it may concern is inappropriate and may be considered rude.

Should I use “To Whom It May Concern”?

Yes, if you don’t know the name of the individual you are addressing, you should use “To Whom It May Concern.” However, before choosing to use this phrase, you should consider looking for a point of contact to receive your cover letter and resume .

You can do this in any number of ways, including checking the job posting, using the company website, asking another contact, or contacting customer service or human resources .

Do you write “To Whom It May Concern” in capital letters?

Yes, you should write “To Whom It May Concern” in capital letters. Although this may seem out of the norm, you would want to capitalize the name of the person you are addressing.

Since to whom it may concern is used in place of a person’s name, you should capitalize the entire phrase in place of the individual’s name.

How do you address a letter to an unknown person?

If the letter is formal, you should address a letter to an unknown person with the phrase “To Whom It May Concern.” Typically, this phrase is used in business correspondences when the other party is unknown.

Most commonly, this can be used when submitting a job application or cover letter when the job posting is unclear on who will review your application.

It might take you some time, but if you set your mind to it and put a little effort, chances are you will find the names you are looking for. However, it is essential to know that you really cannot go wrong with any of these alternatives.

Keep in mind that this isn’t about adding more pressure to your pursuit of finding a job. It’s about opening your eyes and showing you that every little detail is essential and speaks volumes to any future employer about the person they will be hiring.

Readers Digest – To Whom It May Concern: What it Means and How to Use it

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Melissa is an exceptionally hard-working, creative individual, with great organizational and time management skills. She has been writing and researching professionally for over seven years. She graduated with a BA in English from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

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When and How to Use "To Whom It May Concern"

do you write to whom it may concern on a cover letter

Options for Starting a Letter

When to use “to whom it may concern”, how to use “to whom it may concern”, alternative greetings to use, when to leave off the salutation, frequently asked questions (faqs).

Miguel Co / The Balance

“To Whom It May Concern” is a salutation traditionally used in business letters when the sender doesn’t know the name of the person who will receive the message. Although it’s somewhat old-fashioned, this greeting is still an option when you’re sending cover letters, job inquiries, or other business correspondence. 

That said, you should make every effort to find a contact name to use in your letter. You also have other options. Find out more about alternatives and when it's appropriate to start your letter with this greeting.

Key Takeaways

  • Before you use “To Whom It May Concern,” consider alternative letter greetings, such as "Greetings" or "Dear Hiring Manager."
  • Do your best to find a contact person; doing so will increase the likelihood that your letter or email will be read and acknowledged. 
  • The first letter in each word is capitalized, and the phrase is followed by a colon.

"To Whom It May Concern" is an impersonal and somewhat outdated letter greeting. It is still sometimes used, but nowadays, there are better options for starting a letter. 

One simple approach is to not include any salutation. In that case, simply begin your email or letter with the first paragraph or with “Re: Topic You’re Writing About” in the subject line, followed by the rest of the letter or message in the body.

When other options don't work for your correspondence, it's acceptable to start a letter with "To Whom It May Concern."

If you do choose to use “To Whom It May Concern” when you're applying for jobs, it shouldn't impact your application. A Resume Companion survey reports that 83% of hiring managers said seeing it would have little or no impact on their hiring decisions.

Here is when and how to use “To Whom It May Concern,” as well as examples of alternative salutations to use when writing letters.

Here is when and how to use “To Whom It May Concern,” along with examples of alternative salutations to use when writing letters.

Look for a Contact Person

Ideally, you will try to ascertain the name of the specific person to whom you are writing. For example, if you are writing a cover letter for a job application and do not know the contact person, do your best to find out the name of the employer or hiring manager.

If you’re writing a business letter, it will more likely be read if you address it to a specific person at the company. You’ll also have a person to follow up with if you don’t get a response from your first inquiry. Taking a few minutes to try to locate a contact is worth the time. 

Check the Job Listing

There are several ways to discover the name of the person you are contacting. If you are applying for a job, the name of the employer or hiring manager may be on the job listing. However, that is not always the case.

Many employers don’t list a contact person because they may not want direct inquiries from job seekers.

Check the Company Website

You can look on the company website for the name of the person in the position you are trying to contact. You can often find this in the “About Us,” “Staff,” or “Contact Us” sections. If you cannot find the name on the website, try to find the right person on LinkedIn, or ask a friend or colleague if he or she knows the person’s name.

Ask the Employer

Another option is to call the office and ask the administrative assistant for advice. For example, you might explain you are applying for a job and would like to know the name of the hiring manager.

Be sure to ask the administrative assistant to spell the hiring manager’s name. Then double-check the spelling on the company website or LinkedIn. 

If you take all of these steps and still do not know the name of the person you are contacting, you can use “To Whom It May Concern” or an alternative generic greeting.

When should you use the term? It should be used at the beginning of a letter, email, or other form of communication when you are unsure of who will be reading it.

This might happen at many points in your job search. For example, you might be sending a cover letter, letter of recommendation, or other job search materials to someone whose name you do not know.

It is also appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern” when you are sending an inquiry (also known as a prospecting letter or letter of interest ) but don’t have the details of a contact person.

Capitalization and Spacing

When addressing a letter with “To Whom It May Concern,” the first letter of each word is typically capitalized, and the phrase is followed by a colon:

To Whom It May Concern:

Skip the next line, and then start the first paragraph of the letter.

“To Whom It May Concern” is considered fairly outdated, especially when writing cover letters for jobs. “Dear Sir or Madam” is another salutation that was commonly used in the past, but it too may also come across as old-fashioned. It’s also non-inclusive.

There are better alternatives you can use for letter salutations when you are writing a letter and don’t have a named person to write to.

Here are some options:

  • Dear Hiring Committee
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Team
  • Dear HR Manager
  • Dear Human Resources Representative
  • Dear Human Resources Team
  • Dear [Department] Name
  • Dear [Department] Manager
  • Dear [Department] Team
  • Dear Personnel Manager
  • Dear Search Committee
  • Dear Recruiter
  • Dear Recruiting Manager
  • Dear Recruiting Team
  • Dear Talent Acquisition Team
  • Dear Customer Service Manager
  • Re: (Topic of Letter)

You can also write a greeting that is still general but focuses on the group of people you are reaching out to. For example, if you are contacting people in your network for help with your job search , you might use the greeting “Dear Friends and Family.”

Another option for starting your letter is to leave off the salutation entirely. If you decide not to include a greeting, begin with the first paragraph of your letter or email message.

What is the best format for business letters?

Business letters are typically written in block format, meaning that the type is left-justified, with single-spaced text and a double space between paragraphs. Leave a few spaces after the closing to make room for your signature. 

What are the sections of a business letter?

The sections of a business letter are the address of the sender, the date, the address of the recipient, a salutation, the body of the letter, a closing, and a signature. 

Resume Companion. " Is "To Whom It May Concern” Acceptable on a Cover Letter? ."

IMAGES

  1. 50 To Whom It May Concern Letter & Email Templates ᐅ TemplateLab

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  2. 50 To Whom It May Concern Letter & Email Templates ᐅ TemplateLab

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  3. Cover Letter To whom it may concern Engl

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  4. 26+ Cover Letter To Whom It May Concern

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  5. Letter Sample To Whom It May Concern

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  6. 50 To Whom It May Concern Letter & Email Templates ᐅ TemplateLab

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

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    Rule #1: Address your cover letter to the hiring manager using a formal, full-name salutation (if possible). For a cover letter, you should always default to addressing it to the hiring manager for the position you're applying to. Unless you know for sure that the culture of the company is more casual, use the hiring manager's first and ...

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    Here are five better alternatives to "To Whom It May Concern" that show you've put in a bit more effort into your application: 1. Dear [Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss] [Last Name], The best greeting on a cover letter is "Dear" followed by the recipient's title and last name. It's simple, clear, and professional.

  4. Should You Use "To Whom It May Concern" In Your Cover Letter

    To sum up: if you're not 100% sure that you can use "To Whom It May Concern," don't use it. The best alternatives for "to whom it may concern" Even if you need to use a generic phrase, there are way better options for the beginning of your cover letter than "to whom it may concern" in most cases.

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    Here are the most common ways to address a cover letter without a name: To Whom It May Concern. Dear Human Resources Director. Dear Hiring Manager. Dear Recruitment Manager. Additionally, if you want to add a personal touch, address your cover letter to your prospective department or manager.

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    Starting a cover letter with "To whom it may concern" may be suitable when you're not sure who to address your correspondence to. Sometimes, though, using this phrase in your introduction letter may make you seem overly formal or unprepared. Exploring other expressions to incorporate can help you make a good first impression of your abilities and may ultimately increase your odds of receiving ...

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    6 'To Whom It May Concern' Alternatives. Here are six 'To Whom It May Concern' alternatives to use when starting your cover letter: 1. Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss/Mx [Contact Person's Surname], The standard greeting for cover letters is 'Dear' followed by your contact person's title, surname, and a comma.

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    Key Takeaways. "To Whom It May Concern" might be considered outdated and overly impersonal in today's job market. Personalizing your cover letter by addressing it to a specific person shows ...

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    When your contact has an academic or professional title. There are times when you may want to replace "Mr." or "Ms." in your cover letter salutation with a different prefix. For example, if the person holds a Ph.D., it is considered more respectful to address them as "Dr. Last Name," instead of "Ms. Last Name.".

  10. The quick guide to using 'To Whom It May Concern' in a cover letter

    Place a colon after the greeting (To Whom It May Concern: ) Some grammar guides require a comma after the word 'concern' instead of a colon, but the important thing to do is to be consistent with how you use punctuation throughout the letter. Before you begin the body of your cover letter, add an extra line after the salutation.

  11. When to use "To Whom It May Concern"

    Here's a tip: Always format "To Whom It May Concern" with a capital letter at the beginning of each word. Follow it with a colon. Double-space before you begin the body of your letter. To Whom It May Concern: I'm writing to file a complaint about the service I received during my November 15 visit to your store.

  12. "To Whom It May Concern" on a Cover Letter

    To Whom It May Concern Cover Letter. One of the important parts of your cover letter will be the salutation — the greeting you use to address the person you're writing the cover letter to. Some people use the phrase, "To Whom it May Concern" as it might seem like an effective way to address an employer when you don't necessarily know ...

  13. When To Use the Salutation "To Whom It May Concern"

    Why people use "To Whom It May Concern". Traditionally, the phrase "To Whom It May Concern" is used in business correspondences when you don't know the recipient's name or you're not writing to a specific person. For example, if you're writing a cover letter as part of a job application and it's unclear who will be reviewing your application ...

  14. How to Address a Cover Letter in 2024: Complete Guide

    Addressing a cover letter with "Hello" or "Hi" is a tad too informal for many companies. 2. Using Dear Sir or Madam. WRONG. Dear Sir or Madam, Don't use Dear Sir or Madam even if you're not sure who to address a cover letter to. It's a very outdated phrase, and it will make you look lazy.

  15. To Whom it May Concern? How to Address and End a Cover Letter

    3) Use a More Personalized "To Whom it May Concern" Alternative. You can still personalize your cover letter, even when you don't know the identity of the hiring manager. Instead of "To Whom It May Concern," which casts a wide net and is specific to no one, try addressing your cover letter to one specific person.

  16. To Whom It May Concern: How to Use it & Best Alternatives

    Mind you, even the minor words are capitalized. 2. Use a colon after "To Whom It May Concern". A colon rather than a comma should follow the cover letter salutation. 3. Add a space or double space before the beginning of the letter. Improve readability by ensuring your resume cover page has enough white space.

  17. Should You Use "To Whom It May Concern" for Cover Letter Salutations?

    You can direct your cover letter to the recruiting team directly to avoid using "To Whom It May Concern" that does not specify who the letter is for. 7. Dear Hiring Manager. A more general way to address the recruiter is to simply name them by their job title as "Dear Hiring Manager".

  18. To Whom It May Concern: How To Use It With Examples

    Yes, you should write "To Whom It May Concern" in capital letters. Although this may seem out of the norm, you would want to capitalize the name of the person you are addressing. Since to whom it may concern is used in place of a person's name, you should capitalize the entire phrase in place of the individual's name.

  19. "To Whom It May Concern" Cover Letter Greeting—Yes or No?

    Source: Magnet.me. "To Whom It May Concern" is commonly used in formal correspondence. It is a perfectly acceptable cover letter greeting when you don't know who to address the letter to. It is also appropriate to use this greeting if you are not applying for a job but writing a letter of interest or making any other inquiry and you don ...

  20. To Whom It May Concern on a Cover Letter

    In general, your best option is going to be to find the name of the specific person to whom you're sending the cover letter. Remember to format the salutation correctly. If using a name, address them as "Dear Mr. [Name]" or "Dear Ms. [Name].". Make sure you insert a comma and a paragraph break after the name to set off the introduction.

  21. When to Use the Phrase, 'To Whom it May Concern'

    Traditionally, the phrase 'To Whom It May Concern' is used in business correspondences when you don't know the recipient's name or you're not writing to one specific person. For example, if you are writing a cover letter as part of a job application and it's not clear from the job posting who will be reviewing your application, you may choose ...

  22. When and How to Use "To Whom It May Concern"

    To Whom It May Concern is a letter salutation used when you do not have a contact person. Here is when to use it, how to capitalize it, and alternatives. ... if you are writing a cover letter for a job application and do not know the name of the employer or hiring manager, do your best to find out. If you're writing a business letter, it will ...

  23. When Should You Use To Whom It May Concern

    The Concern Over To Whom It May Concern. This greeting used to be frequent because it was a formal, respectful way to approach written communication with people whose identity or familiarity might not be known. For instance, if you had been writing to the manufacturer of your favorite product, this could have been a proper opening to your letter.

  24. How to Write a Cover Letter: Guide + Examples

    Avoid addressing the recipient with "Dear Sir or Madam," which is outdated and impersonal. It's always best to address them by their title and name. For example: Good cover letter greeting examples: "Dear hiring manager,". "Dear [XYZ Company] team,". "Dear Customer Acquisition Hiring Manager,". Weak cover letter greeting examples:

  25. Test

    First Baptist Church at Savoy was live.