'To Whom It May Concern' capitalization
'To Whom It May Concern' is a common salutation for letters and emails that are more formal in nature. This phrase is typically used in business correspondence rather than for personal correspondence. While this salutation is formal, there are particular times when you should and should not use it. Here we explore the type of correspondence when this phrase is acceptable, 'To Whom It May Concern' capitalization guidelines, when to use this salutation, and steps to take before using 'To Whom It May Concern.'
What kind of correspondence would include 'To Whom It May Concern?'
There several different types of correspondence in which it may be appropriate to begin the correspondence with ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ This phrase is most often used in business correspondence, such as a business email. Common types of letters and emails in which this salutation could be used include:
- Cover letters
- Sales letters
- Confirmation of orders
- Delivery letters
- Appointment letters
- Business memos
- Business faxes
- Business emails
- Reference letters
'To Whom It May Concern' capitalization guidelines
In nearly all instances, capitalizing all of the first letters of each word in ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is appropriate. A good rule of thumb is to consider this phrase as a stand-in for the person’s name in which you are writing. Since you would capitalize the first letter of a person’s name, you should do so for the phrase ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ Follow ‘To Whom It May Concern’ with either a colon or a comma, a space, and then immediately go into the body of the letter.
When to use 'To Whom It May Concern'
The following are several instances in which it would be appropriate to use ‘To Whom It May Concern’ as a salutation:
- Response to a prospective customer: If you receive an email or automated message from a potential client and the email does not include their first and/or last name, using ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is a more generic yet formal salutation to consider using. Be sure to ask for the potential customer’s name in your email so you can properly address them in future correspondence.
- Cover letter: When you’re writing a cover letter to a hiring manager or employer, you may not initially know their name(s). Using ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is a good alternative as it shows professionalism. You should also use an alternative greeting if you are not sure of the proper spelling of the recipient’s name, as it will come off as unprofessional to spell their name incorrectly.
- Recommendation letter: If you’re asked to write a letter of recommendation for a previous coworker or another individual you know from a professional setting, you may wish to begin the letter with ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ This is especially true if you are not provided with the full name of the recipient. But, be sure to ask the person who requested the letter first, as addressing the recipient by their first and last name is typically preferred.
- Feedback letter: If you wish to share feedback with your employer or another company but are unsure of whom to address in the letter, using the salutation ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is a professional yet generic way to begin the letter. This also ensures that no matter who ultimately reads the letter, it’s addressed in a way that is acceptable to all readers.
Steps to take before using 'To Whom It May Concern'
The following are steps you should take before using this salutation in correspondence:
- Review the job listing. If you are submitting correspondence to apply for a position, you should first thoroughly review the job listing to ensure the contact name is not available. Some hiring managers or recruiters will include their names on the job posting, or you may notice the name in the email provided for application purposes.
- Search the organization’s website. Some companies will list the hiring manager or head of the department that you’re submitting your application to on their website. This information would usually be in a section titled ‘Staff’ or ‘Team’ or in the ‘About’ area on the website.
- Call the company. If you are unable to find the name of the hiring manager or recruiter using the above methods, you could also consider directly calling the company and asking to speak to a human resources employee. This person should be able to provide you with the full name of the person you should address your correspondence to.
- Look on networking websites. Some recruiters and hiring managers will have profiles on professional networking websites like LinkedIn. You can search for the company on the website and then take a look at their employees currently on the website to find the appropriate person to address your letter or email to. For example, you may see that Ryan Titus is the hiring manager for the organization you’re applying to. This is likely the name you’d want to address your correspondence to when submitting your application.
If you take all of these steps and are still unable to find the name of the person you’re writing to, using ‘To Whom It May Concern’ or another generic greeting is appropriate.
Alternatives to 'To Whom It May Concern'
The following are several alternative salutations you can use in place of ‘To Whom It May Concern’:
- Dear Recruiter
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear Human Resources/HR Manager
- Dear Hiring Committee
- Dear [Title of Department]
- Dear Personnel Manager
- Dear Recruiting Manager
- Hi there
- Dear Sir or Madam
- Dear Recruiting Department
- Dear [Company Name] Recruiter
- Dear [Title of Department] Director
- Good Morning
- Good Afternoon
- Good Evening
- Hi All