I Have No Name to Send My Cover Letter To?

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Dear Del,
I have a question about cover letters. If you can’t find the person whom you would address the cover letter to, is it okay to put “Dear Recruiter” or something like that?

The short answer is, YES. You may address it to Dear Recruiter. Similarly, you may address it to Dear Selection Committee, or Dear Hiring Manager, or any other generic opening that’s not a department. In other words, address it to someone who reads. Departments don’t read, so you don’t want to write, Dear Human Resources Department.

Of course, the long answer is more complicated and more accurate.

It’s not preferable to begin your letter with a generic salutation. Think about how you feel when you get home from a long day of classes and spy a letter in your mailbox addressed to Dear Resident. Do you put everything down and tear into it. Absolutely not. Without your name, it’s not very engaging. You probably take it out of the mailbox and toss it in the trash.

How can you avoid the circular file during your employment quest? Start by using an appropriate name and title on your cover letter.  The best plan is to check the company’s website for the name or any contact information. Call the company using the contact information. If you a person answers, state the following: I’m interested in XY position. To whom may I direct my employment documents? This isn’t being pushy or annoying. It’s being resourceful.

Also, remember to avoid the gender biased salutation: Dear Sirs or Gentlemen. And Dear Sir/Madam is awkward and so 1990s!  And NEVER write a cover letter (or any other letter for that matter) with the salutation, “To whom it may concern.” If you do, it will concern no one.

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