Cover letter Samples & Templates

Exploring Alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern” in Cover Letters

“To Whom It May Concern” is not an appropriate way to begin a cover letter. We’ve created a collection of 5 good options so you can kick off your cover letter on a high note and get more interviews.

In the realm of job application documents, the cover letter serves as the initial gateway to showcasing one’s qualifications, skills, and enthusiasm for a particular role. However, there’s one aspect of the cover letter that often raises questions and concerns: the salutation. The commonly used “To Whom It May Concern” is a catch-all phrase that, while convenient, can lack the personal touch and specificity that modern hiring processes demand. In this article, we delve into the reasons why alternatives to this generic salutation are worth exploring and provide insights into crafting more engaging openings for your cover letters.

What exactly is “To Whom It May Concern”?

“To Whom It May Concern” is a conventional salutation or greeting often used at the beginning of formal letters, including cover letters, recommendation letters, and other professional correspondence. It is typically employed when the sender of the letter does not have a specific recipient’s name to address the letter to, or when the letter is intended to be read by multiple individuals who may not be known in advance.

This salutation is neutral and does not refer to any particular person. It’s a way to acknowledge that the letter’s content is relevant to anyone who may come across it, without specifying an individual’s identity. While it is a widely recognized phrase, its use has become somewhat contentious, especially in cover letters, as it lacks the personal touch that many employers and hiring managers prefer.

In formal or official contexts, “To Whom It May Concern” may be seen as a way to maintain professionalism when the sender does not have direct knowledge of the recipient. However, in job applications and similar situations, personalized salutations are often recommended to demonstrate genuine interest and effort in tailoring the communication.

Should I use the phrase “To Whom It May Concern”?

If you don’t have any other option, don’t use “To Whom It May Concern” on a cover letter. But if you have to, ensure that you understand how to execute it correctly.

Once you apply, you want to amaze the prospective employer and be granted an interview. Including the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” in your cover letter will not assist you in accomplishing this aim.

Addressing your cover letter in an ambiguous, abstract manner demonstrates that you haven’t spent any time exploring the role, which is not a pretty sight for an individual who is genuinely seeking a job.

While the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” is a common and recognized salutation, its use in cover letters and professional correspondence has evolved. While it may still be appropriate in certain situations, there are considerations to keep in mind:

1. Personalization: Using a specific name or title in the salutation is generally more effective and personal. If you can find out the name of the hiring manager or another relevant contact, addressing them directly can make your cover letter stand out.

2. Research: If the job posting or company website provides the name of the hiring manager or recruiter, it’s recommended to use that information. This shows that you’ve taken the time to research the company and tailor your application.

3. Flexibility: If you’re unable to find a specific name, alternatives like “Dear Hiring Team” or “Dear [Department] Hiring Manager” can be more personalized than “To Whom It May Concern.”

4. Multiple Recipients: If you’re writing a letter intended to be read by multiple recipients who are not known in advance, such as a letter of recommendation for a student, “To Whom It May Concern” might be suitable.

5. Industry Norms: Depending on the industry and company culture, the use of “To Whom It May Concern” might be more accepted. However, in many fields, personalized salutations are preferred.

6. Tailoring Matters: Demonstrating effort in addressing the letter to a specific individual shows that you’ve customized your application for that particular company and role.

In essence, while “To Whom It May Concern” might have its place in certain formal or broader contexts, using a more personalized and specific salutation is generally recommended for cover letters and job applications. It reflects your interest, research, and professionalism, increasing the chances of making a positive impression on potential employers.

How about “Dear Sir/Madam”?

Stop writing “Dear Madam or Sir,” as you would “To Whom It May Concern.”

When was the last time you saw the phrase “madam” said aloud in public? It’s merely obsolete terminology.

If you make the effort to research the job vacancy, you will be able to discover a more appropriate method of addressing the individual who receives your cover letter.

Why Seek Alternatives?

In a competitive job market, where first impressions can make all the difference, personalization matters. Using a generic salutation can give the impression that the applicant has not taken the time to research the company or identify the appropriate recipient. This lack of effort might influence the initial perception of the candidate’s enthusiasm and attention to detail. By using a personalized salutation, you demonstrate that you’ve invested time in learning about the company and tailoring your application to the specific role.

Different ways to say “To Whom It May Concern”

Below are eight viable options to “To Whom It May Concern,” which demonstrate that you put in a little more commitment in your application:

1. To [Mr./Ms./Miss] [Surname],

On a cover letter, the ideal salutation is “Dear,” accompanied by the receiver’s title and surname.

If you learn that the recruitment manager’s name is “Aaron Garcia,” you can address your letter to “Dear Mr. Garcia.”

Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?

Use “Ms.” if the prospective employer is a woman. If you know she likes these titles, you could use “Mrs.” or “Miss.” For instance, if the job description says, “Kindly address all application forms to Miss Ashley Rick,” format your cover letter as follows:

“Dear Miss Rick,”

How to Deal with Vague Names

The gender-neutral title “Mx.” is also getting more common for addressing non-binary persons and individuals with gender-neutral names, such as “Jason Summer.”

“Mx. Summer,”

Meanwhile, it is still uncommon, so utilize it only when you realize the receiver chooses it. Or else, they could mistake it for a typing error.

Hint: Search LinkedIn for the organization you’re applying to. Several workers and their job descriptions can typically be discovered there, so you can find out to who you’re mailing your cover letter.

2. Dear [Full Name],

When communicating with gender-neutral names like “Jason Summer,” some other alternative is to simply use “Dear” with their full name.

“Dear Jason Summer,”

When you’re writing to an individual who recognizes themselves as third-sex or non-binary, this would be the right approach.

Foreign Names

In certain nations, such as Japan, Taiwan, and Hungary, the surname is given first. If you don’t know what name that’s somebody’s surname, employ their full title in the greeting.

“Dear Liao Teng Bai,”

Hint: Look up titles and names on the organization’s webpage. With a little digging, you can generally locate the names of executives and senior staff (who are typically the individuals reading application forms).

3. Dear [Official Title],

If you cannot find the correct name, you could use their official title:

“Dear Office Administrator,”

Search for the recruitment manager’s particular role title underneath the “Reports to” headline on the description:

Although it isn’t as private as mentioning the receiver’s name, addressing them by their title demonstrates that you’re informed of who you would be reporting to and indicates that you’ve done some research about the position.

Hint: Can’t seem to find the recruitment manager’s name anywhere on the internet. Contact the firm. Inquire who responds to whom you need to address your cover letter.

4. Dear [Unit] Head,

Still, having trouble locating personal information? Please address your cover letter to the head of the department as follows:

“Dear Audit Team Supervisor,”

If you didn’t locate the unit’s title, take an informed guess. An auditor applicant, for instance, could address their cover letter to the “Auditing Team Leader” or “Head of Auditing.”

Hint: To locate the titles and job roles of workers affiliated with an organization’s webpage, use a software application like Hunter or Voila Norbert.

5. Dear Recruitment Manager,

Occasionally you will be unable to locate any information about the job posting on the internet. If you’re unable to identify a specific name, addressing the hiring team as a whole can still be more personal than the generic salutation. It acknowledges the collaborative nature of the hiring process and indicates that you are aware of the team dynamics. For example, “Dear [Department] Hiring Team, I am excited to express my interest in the [Job Title] opportunity at [Company Name].”

For instance, when you’re applying to a huge Multinational corporation, it may be vague which unit you should apply to, so address your cover letter to the recruitment manager as follows:

“Dear Recruitment Manager,”

6. Personalized Connections

One of the most effective alternatives is to address your cover letter to a specific individual. When the job posting provides the name of the hiring manager, using their name in the salutation can add a personalized touch. This shows that you’ve taken the initiative to learn about the decision-makers and address them directly.

This might be the hiring manager, the department head, or even someone you’ve networked with at the company. Mentioning a connection you’ve made at the company can instantly grab the reader’s attention and create a positive impression. For example, “Dear [Name], a conversation with [Contact’s Name] has inspired me to apply for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name].”

7. Showcasing Industry Knowledge

Another approach is to start with a statement that demonstrates your understanding of the industry or the company’s recent achievements. This immediately positions you as an informed candidate and can intrigue the reader. For instance, “In light of [Company’s Recent Achievement], I am thrilled to express my keen interest in the [Job Title] position at [Company Name].”

8. Emphasizing Mutual Goals

Craft an opening that highlights your alignment with the company’s goals, values, or mission. This showcases your enthusiasm and shared purpose, which can resonate with the reader. For example, “As a dedicated advocate for [Shared Value], I am eager to contribute my skills to the [Job Title] role at [Company Name].”

When Should You Use “To Whom It May Concern”

“To Whom It May Concern” is acceptable when you are not attempting to convince the recipient of the email or letter.

For instance, you may be writing a complaint letter due to your being dissatisfied with the customer experience you got, or because one of your coworkers may have asked you to write a recommendation letter for them.

“To Whom It May Concern” Format

Capitalization is essential when composing “To Whom It May Concern.” Normally, all 5 words are capitalized.

The layout of a cover letter that begins with “To Whom It May Concern” is entirely up to you. You may use a colon, as in the standard setting:

“To Whom It May Concern:”

You may also utilize a comma:

“To Whom It May Concern,”

In any case, keep in mind that “To Whom It May Concern” is a conventional, official introduction, therefore refrain from becoming too artistic and employ a revamped version like “To Whoever This May Concern,” or “To Whomever This May Concern.” These varieties will give the impression that you don’t know how to compose a cover letter correctly.

Hint: Your cover letter must sum up why the prospective employer should employ you, and every piece of information matters — particularly when you’re composing a brief, straightforward cover letter.

“To Whom It May Concern” Samples

Here are five examples of cover letter openings that provide alternatives to the traditional “To Whom It May Concern” salutation:

1. Addressing a Specific Individual:

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I am writing to express my genuine enthusiasm for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. With a strong background in [Relevant Experience], I am excited about the opportunity to contribute my skills to your team and support [Company’s Mission or Goal].

2. Mentioning a Connection:

Dear [Referral’s Name],

My conversation with [Referral’s Name] left me inspired to apply for the [Job Title] role at [Company Name]. As someone passionate about [Relevant Industry], I am eager to bring my expertise to your team and contribute to [Company’s Vision or Achievements].

3. Addressing the Hiring Team:

Dear [Department] Hiring Team,

I am writing to express my interest in the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. With a background in [Relevant Skill or Experience], I am excited to explore the opportunity to collaborate with your dynamic team and drive [Department’s Goals].

4. Showcasing Industry Knowledge:

Dear Hiring Team,

Impressed by [Company’s Recent Achievement], I am excited to apply for the [Job Title] role at [Company Name]. With a proven track record in [Relevant Skill], I am confident in my ability to contribute to your ongoing success and initiatives.

Remember, tailoring your cover letter to the specific job and company is key. These alternatives not only personalize your introduction but also demonstrate your genuine interest and enthusiasm for the opportunity.

5. Generic letter:

Dear Hiring Team,

As I enthusiastically apply for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name], I am compelled to express my sincere interest in joining your esteemed organization. With a strong background in [Relevant Experience] and a passion for [Relevant Skill or Interest], I am excited by the prospect of contributing to [Company’s Mission or Vision]. My dedication to [Key Value or Goal] aligns seamlessly with your company’s values, making me eager to explore the potential of becoming a valued member of your team. In this letter, I aim to showcase how my expertise and enthusiasm can make a positive impact at [Company Name].

Sincerely, [Your Name]


In a landscape where personalization and connection are valued, the cover letter’s opening salutation holds the power to make an immediate impact. Instead of relying on the generic “To Whom It May Concern,” explore alternatives that resonate with the company’s culture and qualifications. Whether it’s using a specific name, mentioning a connection, or showcasing industry knowledge, a well-crafted salutation sets the stage for a cover letter that captures attention and creates a favorable impression.

Frequently Asked Questions About “To Whom It May Concern”

1. Why is “To Whom It May Concern” often discouraged in cover letters?

“To Whom It May Concern” can sound generic and lacks personalization. It doesn’t show that you’ve put effort into researching the company or finding out who the appropriate recipient is. Using a more specific salutation can make your cover letter stand out and show your interest in the position.

2. When is “To Whom It May Concern” still appropriate to use?

“To Whom It May Concern” can still be used in cases where you genuinely don’t have access to a specific name, such as when applying for positions at larger corporations where the hiring manager’s name isn’t readily available. However, whenever possible, it’s better to use a more personalized salutation.

3. What are some alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern”?

Alternatives include addressing a specific individual (if you have their name), mentioning a referral or connection, addressing the hiring team or department, or showcasing industry knowledge or shared goals. These alternatives add a personal touch and demonstrate your interest.

4. How can I find out the hiring manager’s name?

You can try checking the company’s website, LinkedIn profiles of employees, or even reaching out to the company’s HR department to inquire about the appropriate contact person for the role you’re applying to.

5. Is it always necessary to use a specific name in the salutation?

While using a specific name is ideal, it’s not always necessary. If you’ve exhausted all options for finding a name and the position you’re applying for doesn’t involve significant personal interaction, a more general salutation like “Dear Hiring Team” can be an acceptable compromise. However, remember that personalization often pays off in terms of making a positive impression.

Remember that the goal of the salutation is to create a positive first impression and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role. While “To Whom It May Concern” is a default option, exploring alternatives can help you craft a more engaging and personalized introduction to your cover letter.

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