It’s time to talk about pay. Join the conversation, and find out how much you’re worth.

Resume & Cover Letter

How To Address a Cover Letter

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Why is a cover letter address important?How to address a cover letterHow to address an email cover letterCover letter address templateCover letter address examplesCover letter addresses to avoid

Guide Overview

Addressing a cover letter

The beginning of your cover letter, or how and who you address it to, is the first thing the recipient sees when opening your letter. For this reason, understanding how to address a cover letter in a professional and effective manner is essential when making a positive impression on hiring managers. Here we explore why it's important to know how to address a cover letter, steps to take when addressing both physical and emailed cover letters, and several examples of different ways to address your cover letter.

Why is a cover letter address important?

A cover letter address is important primarily because it is often the first thing the recipient sees upon opening the letter. If you address your cover letter professionally and appropriately, you’re more likely to make a positive impression on the hiring manager or recruiter reviewing your letter. This will ultimately support you in your job search endeavors and help you secure more job interviews than if you were not to address your cover letter or do so in an unacceptable manner.

Additionally, a cover letter address is important because it demonstrates your attention to detail and willingness to perform research when necessary. This is especially true when you include the name of the hiring manager in your address. Doing so shows your commitment to professionalism and supports a positive first impression on the reader.

Learn more: How to Write A Cover Letter

How to address a cover letter

The following are methods to follow when addressing a cover letter depending on the situation:

When you know the name of the recipient

It’s always preferable to address your cover letter using the recipient’s name rather than using a generic address. Using the recipient’s name establishes a personal connection and demonstrates your ability to gather information, especially if the recipient’s name is not readily available.

If you don’t know the recipient’s name, do your due diligence by performing a search to find their name. For example, if you’re applying to an organization’s marketing department, look on their website to find the name of the marketing department’s manager.

When you know the recipient’s full name but are unsure of their gender, you can include their full name in your cover letter address. For example, ‘Dear Austen Myers’ is acceptable and considered a professional way to address a cover letter. If you know their gender and wish to use a title in the address, use either ‘Ms.’ or ‘Mr.’ to avoid inaccurately describing the recipient’s marital status. For example, you’d write ‘Dear Ms. Myers’ rather than ‘Dear Mrs. Myers.’

When the recipient has a professional title

If you do know the name of the recipient and they hold a professional or academic title, it’s considered best practice to use that title in your cover letter address. Instead of using ‘Ms.’ or ‘Mr.,’ you’d use their academic or professional title in its place. For example, you’d write, ‘Dear Sgt. Myers’ instead of ‘Dear Ms. Myers.’

Other possible academic and professional title abbreviations you can use in your cover letter address when relevant include:

  • Reverend (Rev.)
  • Professor (Prof.)
  • Doctor (Dr.)
  • Officer

When you don’t know the name of the recipient

If you’ve searched for the recipient’s name and could not find it, you’ll need to use a more general introduction for your cover letter. General cover letter salutations don’t require you to know the recipient’s name or gender and are your safest bet to ensure you make a good impression on the reader.

The most common ways to address a cover letter when you don’t know the name of the hiring manager include:

  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear Sir/Madam
  • Dear Human Resources Director
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Dear [company name] Recruiter

When using a title in the address, such as ‘hiring manager,’ you should ensure that the person with that title is the one who will be receiving your cover letter. If you’re unsure of who will be reading your letter, stick with a more generic greeting such as ‘To whom it may concern.’

Learn more: To Whom It May Concern’ Capitalization Guidelines

How to address an email cover letter

Emailing cover letters has become more of the norm than the exception these days, so knowing how to properly address a cover letter being sent by email is essential for your job search success. Use these steps when sending a cover letter via email:

Create a strong subject line

Subject lines are an important component of professional emails and are necessary to include when sending a cover letter via email to a hiring manager. A clear and concise subject line allows the recipient to quickly know what the email is pertaining to and ensures the email isn’t overlooked or sent to the recipient’s spam folder.

In your email’s subject line, include the job title you are applying for so the hiring manager knows which job you’re interested in. You should also include your full name and a simple word or phrase that iterates what the email contains. For example, ‘John Yates – Assistant Manager Position – Resume and Cover Letter’ is an acceptable subject line.

Use a professional address in your cover letter

As with cover letters sent in a more traditional manner, the salutation you use in your emailed cover letter should be professional and accurate. If you know the name of the person you’re sending your cover letter to, address the letter to them using either their full name or ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ followed by their first and last name. If they have a professional or academic title, use that in place of ‘Mr.’ or Ms.’

If you don’t have the recipient’s name, use a general salutation or simply leave off the salutation. Not using a salutation in an emailed cover letter is more acceptable than when doing so in a physical cover letter.

Double-check the recipient’s email address and spelling of their name

When sending a cover letter via email, it’s important to ensure that you have the email address correct. Double-check the email address by comparing it to the address provided in the job listing or by a human resources employee at the organization you’re applying with. If you’re unsure of the email address, call the organization and ask to verify or be provided with it.

You should also double-check that the name you address your cover letter to is accurate. Incorrect spelling of a name can come off as unprofessional and even offensive in some cases. Don’t be afraid to contact the company to confirm the spelling of the recipient’s name.

Looking for a new job? Start here.

Cover letter address template

The following are templates to use when addressing a cover letter:

  • [Dear First and Last Name]
  • [Dear Mr. First and Last Name]
  • [Dear Mr. Last Name]
  • [Dear Ms. First and Last Name]
  • [Dear Ms. Last Name]
  • [To Whom It May Concern]
  • [Dear Hiring Manager]
  • [Dear (department you are applying with) Department]
  • [Dear (company name) Team]
  • [Dear (title of department head)]
  • [Dear Sir]
  • [Dear Madam]

Cover letter address examples

The following are examples of cover letter addresses:

  • Dear Ms. Jones
  • Dear Ms. Cynthia Jones
  • Dear Mr. Clay
  • Dear Mr. Timothy Clay
  • Dear Prof. Reynolds
  • Dear Dr. Kay
  • Dear Marketing Department
  • Dear Head of Marketing
  • Dear Amy’s Cookie’s Recruiter
  • Dear Customer Service Manager
  • Dear Human Resources Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear Human Resources Director
  • Dear Taylor Jones
  • Dear Tim Johnson
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Dear Sir
  • Dear Madam
  • Dear Public Relations Department Manager
  • Dear Head of Recruiting
  • Dear Marketing Team
  • Dear Department of Art Team
  • Dear Head of Publishing
  • Dear Assistant Director
  • Dear Customer Relations Director

Cover letter addresses to avoid

While there are certainly several addresses that are appropriate for use in a cover letter, there are also a few addresses you should avoid using. You should avoid using addresses that are too casual, such as ‘Hi’ or Hello.’ This type of casual greeting can come off as unprofessional to the reader and potentially have a negative impact on how the hiring manager perceives you. While you can certainly use this type of greeting when sending a personal message or email, doing so when applying for a job is typically frowned upon.

Additionally, while mentioned earlier, addressing your cover letter with ‘Whom It May Concern’ should only be reserved for instances in which you do not know the name, professional title, or department in which the recipient works. For example, if you know the person is the head of the human resources department of the company you’re applying with, you should begin your cover letter with ‘Dear Human Resources Department Head’ rather than ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ This is because some people perceive ‘To Whom It May Concern’ to be too impersonal and as if you did not spend time researching the recipient.

Related Career Guides