Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

To whom do I address my letter?

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

"Writing Your Cover Letter" is a series of short documents that walks you through the creation of a cover letter. Here you can see the information in the "Quick Tips for Cover Letters" and "Preparing to Write a Cover Letter" pages put to use. This page guides you through adapting your experiences to the content in your cover letter and its different sections.

Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific individual, usually the person in charge of interviewing and hiring. Doing so will give you a greater chance of having your application packet read and not filed away automatically.

Here are some ideas on how to get the name of a specific person:

If you cannot find the name of that person, you may address your letter to a group. For example:

If you find the name, but cannot decipher the gender of the person, you may greet that person using their full name instead of their last name. For example:

addressing a cover letter to someone you know

5 Ways To Find The Name Of The Person To Address Your Cover Letter To

addressing a cover letter to someone you know

Written by Gemma Paech, Ph.D.

I would spend hours trying to write the perfect cover letter .

Making sure to highlight my transferable skills .

Addressing all the criteria and using the exact wording, as outlined in the job posting.

Writing and rewriting to make sure it included all the relevant information in a concise manner.

And then, I would address my cover letter, “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”.

What an absolute waste of time.

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I never heard anything back.

I may as well have been sending a spam email to the hiring manager or recruiter.

Hiring managers get hundreds of emails and applications for any given job posting.

To a hiring manager, receiving an application that is not addressed to them is similar to getting spam emails.

I know that whenever I get an email or letter that is not specifically addressed to me, it usually gets sent straight to the trash folder.

So, it’s not surprising that the hiring manager is unlikely to read a cover letter or application that is not addressed to them.

If the sender cannot be bothered to find out who to address the letter to, why should the receiver read it or respond?

If a computer program can be designed to determine who to address an email to, surely someone with a PhD can do the same?

There was no excuse for my laziness when writing a cover letter.

Now, I make sure I never send a letter that is not addressed to a specific person.

While it can be hard, it is not impossible.

It just takes a little bit of problem-solving.

Since taking this approach, I have had a more positive response rate to my applications, and have even managed to get a few interviews.

If I was still addressing my cover letters, “To Whom It May Concern”, I would probably still be waiting for a response.

Why You Must Personally Address A Cover Letter

addressing a cover letter to someone you know

With more and more applications being posted on sites such as LinkedIn and indeed.com, there is a tendency for PhDs to complete an application without including a cover letter.

Often, PhDs use the excuse that there wasn’t a place to include it.

So many PhDs think that a cover letter is not important.

However, cover letters still hold a high level of importance in the job application process.

As pointed out in Science, 40% of human resources employees read cover letters regularly, while 60% read them on occasion and think they can be very useful.

While it may not be explicitly stated that you must include a cover letter with an online application, it is still a good idea, and will only improve your application.

A personalized cover letter will allow you to highlight your strengths and accomplishments.

Cover letters provide detail that you wouldn’t always be able to include in a resume .

It also gives you the chance to make a strong argument for why you are the best candidate for the position.

Cover letters can reveal work ethic and attention to detail.

One executive told Business Insider that she only receives a cover letter from 40% of job applicants and that only a quarter of those cover letters are tailored to the job description.

This makes it easy to weed out the lazy job applicants.

A concise but detailed cover letter shows the reader that you have a good understanding of what the job entails.

A well-written cover letter also demonstrates your passion and dedication for the position, and highlights your ability to communicate.

The cover letter is an important step for PhDs to prove that they have more value to offer than other candidates.

5 Ways To Determine Who To Address Your Cover Letter To

You may be tempted to address a cover letter, “To Whom It May Concern”.

But, this tactic will get you nowhere.

Writing a generic cover letter is a waste of time.

You must address your cover letter to the appropriate person.

Networking and getting a job referral will make this an easy task.

But in other situations, it can be hard to determine to whom you should address a cover letter.

Here are 5 ways to figure out who you should address your cover letter to…

1. Call the company.

Picking up the phone and calling the company is the number one way to find out the name of the hiring manager.

It can be easy to rely so much on technology, that we avoid or forget about using the phone.

Make a small effort, pick up the phone, and call the human resources department.

This is a very quick and easy way to determine who to address the cover letter to.

When talking with the HR department, mention the specific job posting, and the job post number if it has one.

This will help the human resources department know whose name to give you.

State who you are and that you are calling about the available position.

Indicate that you would like to confirm who the hiring manager is, and who you should address your cover letter to.

There may be a rare case when the person who you speak with is hesitant to give you this information.

Assure them that you just want their name so that you can address the cover letter appropriately.

Be sure to check the spelling of the name.

Some names can be spelt very differently from how they are pronounced.

The call should be short. You do not want to take up too much time from the person you are calling.

At the end of the call, remember to thank them for their assistance and their time.

Calling is the best and most reliable way to find out whom to address your cover letter.

2. Network with people who work at the company you want to work for.

addressing a cover letter to someone you know

Before a job you want becomes available, you should identify a few target companies and begin networking with people who work for those companies.

This way, you have a network to call on and ask for a job referral, when a job you want becomes available.

So, if you have been networking effectively , there is a good chance that you will have been referred for the position.

In these instances, you should be able to ask the person who referred you who you should address the cover letter to.

If you don’t already know someone at the company, do a LinkedIn search to see if you have any secondary connections.

In these situations, it is rude to simply ask someone you don’t know to give you information, and it is unlikely that you will get a reply .

Instead, you need to add some value to the conversation before asking for something.

Start out by mentioning the person you have in common and how you know them, and build your professional relationship from there.

This method does take some time, since you need to create a relationship before you can ask for a favor, which is why it is so important to already have a strong network in place.

3. Read the job posting thoroughly.

Unfortunately, a lot of PhDs only skim a job advertisement without carefully reading all the details.

Not reading the job posting thoroughly will set you up for failure.

You will miss vital information about the job description, and you may also miss the contact details of the job poster.

Contact details, such as a name or email, can be hidden at the very end of the posting.

You may find that there is an email, but no actual name.

Most staff email addresses include the person’s name or parts of their name.

A simple search of the first part of the email and the company should give you an indication of who you need to address the cover letter to.

Other information that is usually included in the description, is the person who created the job posting.

This is particularly true for LinkedIn job postings.

If the job posting you have is from another website, look to see if it has also been posted on LinkedIn.

Many companies will post ads across different job search engines to increase their exposure.

If they have created a posting on LinkedIn, there should be a name and profile of the person who posted it.

Be sure to look at their profile first, to make sure they are actually the appropriate person to address a cover letter to.

This can also be a good way to introduce yourself and network with individuals from the company.

4. Find out who your boss or manager would be.

addressing a cover letter to someone you know

Job postings usually include details about who you would be reporting to in that position.

The job advertisement may say something like, “the successful candidate will report to the director of medical affairs”.

This is your cue to look up who the director of medical affairs is at the company.

There is a good chance that the person you will be reporting to is the same person who you should address the cover letter to.

Do a LinkedIn search of employees at the company who hold that job title.

If the company is especially large, there may be more than one individual with this position title.

You can do some additional research by looking at their profiles to see each person’s area of expertise.

By using your excellent problem-solving skills , you should be able to determine the name of the person who you will be reporting to.

5. Do an online search.

Search online for the company and title of the position you are interested in.

This will show you if the position has been posted somewhere else on the Internet.

Postings on different websites can differ slightly, even if the advertisement is for the same position.

One posting could mention who you would be reporting to, while another may not.

In addition to third-party sites, look on the company website.

Many companies, especially large ones, have a dedicated jobs page.

The job description on the company’s own page can include more detail about who to contact, as well as more information about the position’s description.

More often than not, job postings do not include the name of the person who you should address your cover letter to. And, you may be tempted to address your cover letter, “To Whom It May Concern”. This will set you up to fail. Take the initiative to find out whose name you should put on your cover letter. Always call the company first if you are not sure who to address the cover letter to, and if that doesn’t work, you can try other tactics such as networking, reading the job posting more thoroughly, finding out who your supervisor would be, and searching online. When you do find out who you should address your cover letter to, you will present as a much stronger candidate and will be more likely to succeed in getting an interview.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists.  Apply to book a Transition Call here.

Book a Transition Call

Hi, I'm Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I am CEO of Cheeky Scientist, the world's largest career training platform for PhDs. If you want free insights on resumes, LinkedIn, interviewing, careers and more, just enter your details below.

Get Free Job Search Content Weekly *

Free insights into industry resumes, interview questions and top careers for PhDs.

addressing a cover letter to someone you know


Gemma has a PhD in Social Sciences specializing in sleep and circadian rhythms with a background in genetics and immunology. She is currently transitioning from academia into industry. She has experience in communicating science to lay audiences and believes in sharing scientific knowledge with the public. She is passionate about educating the public about the importance of sleep and the effects of sleep loss and disruption on general health and wellbeing to increase quality of life and work productivity. She is also committed to mentoring students across all demographics, helping them reach their full potential.

Gemma Paech, Ph.D.

Similar Articles

Don’t Ignore These 6 Powerful PhD Job Search Trends

Don’t Ignore These 6 Powerful PhD Job Search Trends

By: isaiah hankel, phd.

What does your job search strategy look like?  If you had to describe it in 2 or 3 sentences, what would you say?  I ask because, if you’re reading this, you’re in the market for a job. Working with PhDs for more than 10 years, I’ve learned one thing is true above all others: The right job strategy is what’s going to get you hired. That’s right: I’m saying that a concrete job search methodology is more important than anything else in your job search.  It’s more important than your skills, your degree, your personality – more important than you,…

A No-Excuses Look at Virtual Networking

A No-Excuses Look at Virtual Networking

A lot of PhDs ignore a crucial part of their job search – virtual networking. You may think that because you’re spending a lot of time going to conferences, attending lectures, setting up face-to-face meetings, and checking in with one or two connections when you need a reference or referral that you’ve established your professional network.  Virtual Networking Casts A Wider Net, Even After The Pandemic Nope, you’re networking by halves if you’re only networking in-person. I kept seeing a former colleague of mine at conferences really making the most out of his time networking in person. Everybody knew this…

A Pitch-Perfect Elevator Script For PhDs In Industry

A Pitch-Perfect Elevator Script For PhDs In Industry

I had heard of the term “elevator script” before my first industry interview.  Was I sure what it meant? No. But I got the gist of it: introduce yourself in a compelling way during an interview or networking session. Don’t annoy someone in an elevator. I dismissed the idea of learning more about it than that If I remember correctly, I told myself that it was nothing more than a remedial gimmick. One of those unnecessary “life hacks” that clueless people gobble up to calm their nerves before an interview.  Definitely not something a PhD graduate with a background in…

How To Get A Referral Without The Messy Emotions

How To Get A Referral Without The Messy Emotions

Towards the end of my PhD, I felt like I was racing time. And time was winning. I was frantically trying to wrap up loose ends in my research, finish writing my thesis, all the while trying to find a job. I knew I wanted a job in industry. In fact, I knew exactly the job I wanted. I just didn’t know how to get there. I was sending my resume off into the abyss of the internet, but I wasn’t getting any replies. I couldn’t fathom what I was doing wrong. The whole thing felt pointless. Now, looking back…

5 Insider Rapport Building Tips (or, How To Make In Person Networking Non-Dreadful)

5 Insider Rapport Building Tips (or, How To Make In Person Networking Non-Dreadful)

Like many PhDs, I’m an introvert. That means my tendency is to avoid face-to-face interactions at all costs. But when it came time to search for a job in industry, my introverted tactics weren’t working. I was reaching out to people online, even getting a few responses, but in the end, all my efforts fell flat. After months of this, I was right where I started – unemployed. Then, I started noticing what my colleagues were doing; the ones that were getting job referrals and interviews at least. They weren’t just reaching out to people online, they were also attending…

6 Credible Networking Scripts That Make Employers Pay Attention

6 Credible Networking Scripts That Make Employers Pay Attention

Just as “location, location, location” is the mantra of real estate, “networking, networking, networking” should be your mantra during your industry job search. During the final year of my PhD, I finally conceded – the only way I was going to get a job in industry was through networking. So, like many PhDs, I fired up my computer, hopped on LinkedIn, and clicked the blue “connect” button until my fingers ached. I sent out the same message to each new contact telling them about all my wonderful accomplishments before I asked them for a job. You know what happened after…

Master The Informational Interview (And How To Land A Referral)

Master The Informational Interview (And How To Land A Referral)

By the time I started my industry job search, I was desperate. I was nearing the end of my PhD and I was consumed with what seemed like a million last-minute tasks – final experiments, last drafts, and defense presentations. I felt like I didn’t have the time to dedicate to my job search. And what little effort and time I did put into it was haphazard. My attempts involved repeatedly clicking the LinkedIn “Connect” button and uploading the same resume to any online job posting I could find. To make matters worse, I wasn’t even sure what job I…

6 Ways PhDs Waste Their Time At In-person Networking Events (And What You Should Do Instead)

6 Ways PhDs Waste Their Time At In-person Networking Events (And What You Should Do Instead)

Networking in person is key to getting a job in industry. Despite knowing this, I avoided doing it at all costs during my PhD. I tried it a few times at scientific conferences, but nothing happened. It seemed pointless. Not only that, but it was down-right scary. And so, like many PhDs, I gave up. I allowed myself to make excuses. I thought “I’m way too busy to attend all these networking events”… or, “I don’t need to network – if I just send out enough resumes online, I’ll surely land a job”. But boy, was I wrong! I can’t…

5 Cheesy Networking Gimmicks To Avoid

5 Cheesy Networking Gimmicks To Avoid

During my PhD, I knew that networking was the key to getting a job in industry. And so, I did what every other PhD I knew was doing… I went to conferences equipped with a copy of my resume and a handful of business cards. Then, during breaks, I would follow the crowd out onto the vendor floor. I would wander around aimlessly looking for a vendor that wasn’t busy. The problem was, so was every other PhD that was looking for a job. At the end of a conference, if I handed out all my business cards and shook…

Top Industry Career eBooks

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

Isaiah hankel, phd & arunodoy sur, phd.

Learn about the best 63 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah hankel.

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah hankel, phd.

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.

A resume without a cover letter is like Lennon without McCartney - It just feels incomplete.

Don't know how to write a cover letter? There's no point in spending days and weeks on perfecting the resume if all you'll do with it is just mindlessly send it on any and every job profile that you come across without writing a cover letter to go with it.

Have a thorough look at this sample to understand how to write a cover letter for a job in 2022:

Let me guess, you first heard of cover letters in a conversation but felt too embarassed to ask further questions about it, lest you'd be labeled as someone who doesn't know what a cover letter is?

You only have a vague idea but don't know what it is, and what it's not, and how to make a cover letter?

Fret not. There are thousands like you who are in a similar conundrum who don't know how to write a cover letter.

This is why the cover letter examples that we have outlined in our 2022 guide to writing a cover letter will take care of all your problems.

The guide will broadly tackle the following areas:


What is a Cover Letter?

The most underrated component of the job-hunting process, it's apalling how little attention is paid to the humble cover letter.

Simply put, a cover letter is a document that you send along with your resume to provide additional information around your skills and experience.

When a recruiter is flooded with thousands of applications for a single vacancy, how do you expect him/her to peruse through them all and select the winner?

That's where the cover letter comes in handy. Right out of the way, more than half of the applicants won't bother to send a cover letter along with their resume. They belong to the category of those exasperated souls who select multiple job listings and hit 'send resume'.

You can imagine what happens to them. They spend their days and nights dazed and confused, wondering what they're doing wrong.

'I applied to like a 100 different vacancies man. I don't know what's going on.' If this sounds like you or someone you know, read on.

Also read : How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

Why do you Need a Cover Letter?

As you now know, since you are competing with thousands of other equally accomplished (if not more) professionals for a single job, one thing is absolutely clear -

You get only a single chance to make it.

So ask yourself: 'Do you want to waste that chance by endlessly sending your resume to 100+ recruiters and then wonder what went wrong, or do you want to play it smart by applying to just 10 but simultaneously increase the probability of getting that coveted shortlist?

That's right. The second option.

I bet some of you are still wondering that the math doesn't quite makes sense: How is applying to 10 places better than applying to a 100?

To which, we ask: Would you rather eat 5 average burgers that make you go 'meh', or would you rather eat a single kickass burger that will make you want to kiss the hand that delivered it from heaven?

We thought so too. Cover letters are that missing piece of the equation which makes applying to a few targeted vacancies better than applying for dozens of random ones.

Contrary to popular belief, HRs are smart people. Well, let's rephrase that. If you encounter hundreds of resumes on a daily basis for years, you do get to know a little something about them.

You figure out how to spot a mildly bad resume from a terribly bad one.

Similarly, you can figure out if the candidate actually went through the job vacancy and gave it a thought before sending in their application, or whether your job listing was just one of a few dozen which they checked at once before hitting 'send'.

And if you belong to the second category, all the HRs in the world will band together and hit you with bulky binders till you rush back and fix your job-hunting process.

Additionally, you can also opt for Hiration's Resume Review Service to get your resume professionally reviewed before you apply to your target job.

How is a Cover Letter Different from a Resume?

Isn't your resume enough, you ask? If you spent hours and days working on it, what's so special about that additional piece of document which will increase your chances of getting a shortlist?

A resume is a statement of all your work profiles till date. You can rephrase or tailor your professional experience along the lines of a few profiles or industries which you are targeting, but other than that, there's very little that you can do when it comes to customizing your application.

That's where the humble cover letter comes in.

The format or structure of a resume is pretty standard (for more, you can check out our detailed guide on resume layout and resume format ). Most applicants who are up-to-date with resume trends will send in their resumes along those lines itself.

A cover letter is where you can break free from the rest and showcase how you and you alone can kill it, how you are meant for that particular job role, how you were born to be an Associate at XYZ, for instance.

Trust us, we aren't being dramatic when we say it. Unless you are able to prove to the recruiter that everything you've ever done till date was only leading to that particular vacancy, everything else is hogwash.

And that's where a cover letter breaks away from a resume.

Cover letters are written for a particular vacancy and addressed to a specific Hiring Manager/Recruiter. You can scan your entire professional career and cherry pick only those instances and achievements which will present you as a perfect response to the job listing.

And there's more. You can do the same for every job that you are applying for. This is how you reduce the number of places where you apply while streamlining your job-hunting process and making your applications more targeted and concise.

A cover letter also gives you a chance to explain your case or justify your shortcomings in a way which is not always possible in a resume.

For instance, in cases where you were off the job market for a particular time period (owing to any reason whatsoever), you can justify the same in your cover letter.

In case you are changing industries or starting in another industry from scratch after a significant experience in another wildly divergent segment, you can dispel the ambiguity surrounding your application so as to leave little room for doubt.

You can be outrightly honest in your application and explain your motivation so that the recruiter at least has adequate information and has a chance to factor in your perspective before coming to a decision.

Also read : What All Goes in a Cover Letter Heading?

How to Write a Cover Letter - A Crisp 5-step Guide

Since you now know what a cover letter is and why you need one, let's get down to the nuts and bolt of making one.

Within 10 minutes, the secret to writing a killer cover letter will be revealed to you in a simple step-by-step guide.

How to Begin - Addressing the Cover Letter

A) Your name and job title comes on top. The job title is not a sacrosanct rank assigned to you from the heavens above. You have a certain level of flexibility wherein you can tailor the same as per the requirements of the job.

For instance, if you are a Sales Executive in your present profile and come across a Sales Associate vacancy, you can go ahead and modify the same to make your application a better fit for the job.

B) Unless you are living in Dickensian England, avoid 'Dear Sir/Madam'. Depending on the culture which is prevalent in your targeted company (casual vs. corporate), you can go take a call on whether to use the first name or last, followed by the profile held by that person aligned to the left.

Mr. John Buchanan Hiring Manager, XYZ Ltd.

(In case you can't find the name of the Hiring Manager, you can simply proceed with Human Resources, XYZ Ltd.)

This goes a long way in making a huge impact than using a generic 'Sir/madam'. This tells the recruiter that what they are about to read is written specifically for them. This will help your cover letter feel like a breath of fresh air for someone who is so used to seeing general cover letters thrown around by the dozen.

C) Start off with your contact details aligned to the right, which would typically include your phone number, email and location (no need for the complete address, just the location will do).

While we are at it, you wouldn't want to break your chances of getting a shortlist if, for instance, your email ID is [email protected] or [email protected] . . . you catch the drift, right? So let's avoid that as well. Ideally your email ID should only consist of your first and last name.

Additionally, avoid using email ID of your current organization. That's just disrespecting not only your present employer but also the recruiter who's seeing your cover letter for the first time.

D) You can add your digital profiles here as well (only LinkedIn and blog, not your Facebook or Twitter), but only if you think they'll add value to your application. If your blog is flooded with posts on Kim Kardashian and UFO sightings since 1970, keep that miles away from your cover letter.

Finally, make sure that the contact information is consistent across your resume, cover letter and digital space in general.

Also read : Whom to Address the Cover Letter when Name's Not Available?

The First Paragraph: Hook, Line & Sinker

The first paragraph of the cover letter is the hook which is supposed to catch the recruiter and draw them in. The first paragraph will contain within its lines a reason for the recruiter to continue reading.

So how do you do that? What's the secret?

Want the Hiring Manager to read your cover letter in its entirety? Give him/her a reason to. The first paragraph is your chance to showcase how the skills and experience that you possess stand to benefit the organization.

Try to identify a need which you can fulfill. That's the basic premise for any transaction since the dawn of mankind. If you can't fulfill a pressing need of the organization, your cover letter will end up in a big ol' steaming pile of Nope.

Identify something which the organization is looking for, scan your previous achievements and demonstrate how you can leverage that to solve critical organizational issues. Unless you can generate that need, you'll always be at the periphery of getting shortlisted but won't ever make the cut.

The first line itself can be your gateway to accomplish just that. There won't ever be a single sure-shot way to guarantee a shortlist. You can either highlight your achievements or demonstrate your interest in the organization by researching their requirements and showing how you can fulfill the same.

Try to talk less about yourself and more about how your track record will help the organization. Let us make the point even clearer with a few examples:

"An 11-year track record of leading teams in Sales and generating multi-million dollar revenues on an annual basis. Played a key role in partnering with MNCs and other conglomerates. Highly interested in the profile of Sales Manager at XYZ Ltd."

Now let's take a look at another one:

"As a keen follower of XYZ Ltd. and its initiatives, I was thrilled to find a vacancy of Sales Manager. With my track record of generating USD 8.2m in sales and forging strategic alliances with Fortune 500 companies, I think I'd be a significant value add to your organization so I can play an instrumental role in achieving your target of 20% YOY growth."

Notice the difference between the two? In the second one, not only is the candidate talking about his achievements, he's also mentioning how his previous work experience can help the organization achieve their goals.

This is a significant departure from those candidates who select multiple job listings and send their resumes everywhere.

This shows that the candidate shortlisted this particular vacancy from several others and conducted research to find the targets which the company is trying to achieve, and how he can play a role in fulfilling those targets.

The Second Paragraph - You & The Company

Continue in the same vein while making sure that the second paragraph is not you just bragging endlessly with your achievements.

All your achievements are detailed in your resume - don't worry about that. Here, your goal is to showcase only those achievements which the recruiter or organization can deem to be useful.

Another component which we only implied till now but are explicitly mentioning only here is RESEARCH. That can be a huge deal-breaker or a life-saver, depending on which camp you fall under.

You can't fulfill the needs of the recruiter if you don't know what it is.

For instance, if you are a Software Developer who has overseen several dozen projects across your tenure, you'll only highlight those projects - more specifically achievements of those projects - which the organization can find useful.

For example, if one of your project was around developing a portal, and as part of your research, you find that the organization you're targeting is somehow targeting just that, you can go ahead and mention the same in glowing letters.

Staying relevant is the key. Otherwise you'll just look like a braggart who's full of himself.

The Third Paragraph - The Company & You

Your goal is to convince the recruiter why you want that particular job and how it's not just any generic job you are applying for - what is it about that company which makes it a perfect fit for you?

The research component that we talked about in the earlier point will reap more dividends here as well. Scan the company's website and make a list of everything which you think might be relevant.

The points here will range from the organization's interest in non-core activities (sports, environment, etc.) to strategies around its core initiatives.

The idea is to make the recruiter believe that you know everything there is to know about the company and can't wait to be a part of it.

You can research and identify any particular project which the company is targeting, or any component of its long-term plan which you think might be relevant for you. Mention that project or component and explain how with a track record like yours, you will be a killer addition to the same.

If you genuinely think that you'd be a perfect fit for the organization, it's only a matter of phrasing it correctly. Believe it or not, even the recruiter is desperately looking for people like you.

If the company is actually going to benefit from having you on-board, why won't they? An example will clear that right up:

"It is difficult to come away un-awed by the passion for excellence that XYZ has displayed in its meteoric rise to become a dominant player in this field. It's remarkable that despite a presence in x states/countries, it values its employees & ensures a continuous learning environment. I am inspired by its collaborative working style that emphasizes upon teamwork, trust & tolerance. Hence, I consider XYZ to be my most preferred employer."
Also read : Top Four Tips to Ace Your Cover Letter

Ending the Cover Letter - Seal the Deal

Instead of having a generic last paragraph, you can utilize the space to include additional details which you think will further seal the deal.

The idea is to close the cover letter on such a note that the recruiter is left with no option but to contact you and schedule an interview.

You can take our advice and avoid using cliche phrases like 'thank you for your time' or 'looking forward to hearing from you'. Even if you are desperate for that job, try to not reflect the same in your cover letter.

Don't focus on your requirements. Instead, focus on how you can fulfill theirs .

"Please find enclosed my resume. Looking forward to hearing from you."
"Enclosed for your consideration is my resume. I'd appreciate the opportunity to further discuss my suitability and qualifications with you on call or in person so I can share my roadmap for reducing your costs by 20%."

Opt for Hiration's Resume Review Service to get your resume reviewed by select industry experts.

Cover Letter Tips & Hacks

Every time you intend to write a cover letter, you probably browse cover letter examples online, get overwhelmed, and think to yourself: Does recruiters really read these? Wouldn’t it be easier if I could just let my resume speak for itself?

Hold up! Before you tire yourself and give up on the idea of cover letters, follow these steps:

We cannot over-stress the importance of research in drafting the perfect cover letter.

There's little sense in spending time writing a cover letter and trying to customize it without making sure that you are indeed hitting the mark. Research is how you truly tailor the cover letter in line with a particular profile and organization.

Your cover letter should ideally be a response to the Job Description. You should present yourself as someone who can single-handedly resolve all the issues which are outlined in the JD.

Look up the Hiring Manager if possible instead of addressing the cover letter to Human Resources. Researching on the specific issues and challenges which the company is facing will help if you want to scan your own achievements and assess how you can truly resolve them.

Cover Letter Format

A precise cover letter format will undoubtedly be a game-changer for getting those shortlists. The cover letter format includes the structure and design in which you present the document, in addition to the basic information which goes in the same, including your contact details and job title.

In most cases, you need not experiment too much with design and structure. In top-end MNCs and official vacancies, the recruiter specifies the exact format in which to deliver the resume and cover letter. Here, be cautious.

If the recruiter has asked for a particular format, submitting your application in any other format most often means immediate rejection.


Customization is the key to the perfect cover letter. There are no two ways to that.

Right from the greeting on the top to the closing paragraph, the cover letter should feel like a response to that particular job vacancy. The research part may seem grueling to most, but believe us, it's worth it. Always.

Finding out intricate details of the company and incorporating the same in your cover letter speaks volumes. Even before you appear for the interview, the recruiter will think of you as someone who knows what s/he's doing, someone who has spent time on their application and meticulously tailored it to the job vacancy.

Going easy with customization and sending generic cover letters is a sure short recipe for disaster. You'd rather not send a cover letter at all than send a general one.

Know What to Include, and What Not to Include

The cover letter is not a register of all your achievements till date. That's your resume. Make sure you are not coming across as someone who can't perceive anything outside their own achievements.

It doesn't matter to the company if you've been a hero in your last organization. That only says that you did well at your last job. It's your task to convince the recruiter that you have the capability to replicate your successes in their organization as well.

Don't include elaborate project details and administrative responsibilities. While there's no universal consensus on the word limit, general wisdom suggests you keep it limited to 350-400 words.

Filling Resume Gaps

In most cases, you'll follow a standard format for your resume. There's little room in there for justifying any shortcomings. That's where the cover letter comes in.

Ranging from employment gaps to too many work profiles in a short span of time, you can use the cover letter to remove ambiguities and ensure that the recruiter does not jump to any conclusion.

A resume is your personal statement. It's filled with your details and your achievements. But the same is not the case with a cover letter. It's more about the organization which you are targeting than anything else.

Don't Lie or Go Overboard

We felt it was important to state this despite it being something too obvious. Any decent organization knows the value of a good recruit and the cost of a bad one. They'll go at great lengths to validate each and every little thing you've mentioned in your resume and cover letter.

Which is why, don't lie.

Not only will it ruin your chances of bagging that particular role, if a company finds out you blatantly lied on your resume/cover letter, they'll spread the same in their network which might include other significant companies and recruitment agencies.

In other words, you are a goner.

All recruiters know that anyone they go on to recruit will spend 8-10 hours in their environment, interact with their teams, coordinate with their clients and what not. In other words, they aren't looking for a machine. They are looking for a living and breathing individual who'll be a team player.

Gone are the days when you had to be uptight in your tone and language. Don't confuse it with being not professional though. You can be professional without sounding like a robot.

Give a snapshot of the individual that breathes beneath the surface. It helps if the recruiter knows that you have a healthy sense of humour or are a perfect fit for the team.

And again, remember you can always make your resume and cover letter at Hiration's AI Powered Personalized Career Assistant as it comes with 200+ ready to use content templates.

You can look into Hiration’s all-encompassing career service platform with 24/7 chat support for all your professional needs - from building a shortlist-worthy resume and cover letter to optimizing your LinkedIn profile, preparing for interviews, and more!

For any concerns or queries, reach out to us at [email protected] .

addressing a cover letter to someone you know

Share this blog

Subscribe to Free Resume Writing Blog by Hiration

Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox

Stay up to date! Get all the latest & greatest posts delivered straight to your inbox

Is Your Resume ATS Friendly To Get Shortlisted?

Upload your resume for a free expert review.

addressing a cover letter to someone you know

How to Address a Cover Letter in 2023

Background Image

Yes, how you address your cover letter matters.

After all, this is the first thing the recruiter reads when going through your cover letter, and yes, there is a right and wrong way to do it.

In this article, we’re going to teach you how to address your cover letter in such a way that you leave a positive impression on any recruiter!

  • How to address a cover letter to a recruiter? (Casual or formal)
  • What title to use when addressing the hiring manager
  • How to address a cover letter without a contact person/to a company
  • How to address a cover letter without an address
  • How to address a cover letter in an email

How to Address a Cover Letter To a Recruiter (Casual or Formal)?

As we already mentioned, the way you address your cover letter is important because it is the very first thing recruiters see upon opening your cover letter. 

A well-formulated cover letter address means that you care enough to research the company (i.e. to find the hiring manager’s name and title) and that you show attention to detail. 

As such, you should always put some research into who you’re addressing your cover letter to and do so in a formal way.  

And yes, the formal part is important too. The recruiter isn’t your best friend - you want to maintain a sense of professionalism.

If this is how you address the recruiter in your cover letter:

  • What’s up Hiring Manager
  • Hi there Hiring Team

Then you say goodbye to the job.

Now, you’re probably wondering, how can I find out whom to address my cover letter to?

That’s what we’re about to teach you:

Who Am I Addressing My Cover Letter To?

Here are some tricks to find the full name of the hiring manager: 

  • Check the job listing. The job listing may have information about the recruiter or the department doing the hiring. Make sure to read through the entire job listing, as it might not be at an entirely obvious place.
  • Check the company website. Some websites feature the names of the hiring managers or heads of departments that may go through your cover letter. Alternatively, LinkedIn is another place where you can look for this information.
  • Check the company’s LinkedIn. You can look up who works in the company you’re applying for on their LinkedIn page.
  • Ask around. Do you have friends that work for the company? They could provide you with valuable inside info.

To avoid making a bad impression, head over to our guide on cover letter mistakes to learn about what NOT to do when writing your cover letter.  

job search masterclass novoresume

Addressing a Cover Letter With a Name

By now, you have probably found the hiring manager’s full name and gender. With this information available, it’s best to address the hiring manager formally, as follows: 

  • Dear Mr. Brown,
  • Dear Miss Fitzpatrick,
  • Dear Mrs. Lockhart,
  • Dear Ms. Walters,

If, for some reason, you are unsure about the person’s title, gender, marital status, or preferred pronouns, just address them using their entire name to avoid any mistakes. For example:

  • Dear Alex Brown, 
  • Dear Blair Fitzpatrick,
  • Dear Jesse Lockhart,
  • Dear Madison Walters,

Addressing someone with a title 

Now, if you found out that the hiring manager has a professional or academic title, then it’s more appropriate to address them using that title. If, for example, the hiring manager has a Ph.D., then it’s more respectful to address them as “Dr. Last Name,” instead of “Mr. Last Name.”  

Here are some professional titles and how they’re abbreviated: 

  • A professor is Prof. 
  • A reverend is Rev. 
  • A sergeant is Sgt. 
  • Honorable is Hon. 

If, however, you are uncertain about how a title is abbreviated, then avoid it altogether. 

Here are a few examples to give you an idea: 

  • Dear Prof. Welsch,
  • Dear Director Smith,
  • Dear Rev. Owen,

Dear Dr. Leonard,

When addressing women and you don’t know their marital status, always go with Ms., because it doesn’t comment on marital status. Some women prefer not to be addressed with Miss or Mrs. even when they’re married, so sticking with Ms. is the best choice. 

Want to learn more cover letter tips ? Our guide has all you need to ace your cover letter!  

How to Address a Cover Letter Without a Contact Person

It might happen that, no matter how hard you search, you can’t find the name of the hiring manager or department head that will read your cover letter.

In that case, you can address your cover letter to the department, faculty, or the company.

  • Dear Software Development Hiring Team,
  • Dear Customer Service Department Hiring Team,
  • Dear Head of the Literature Faculty,
  • Dear Director of Marketing,
  • Dear Human Resources Recruitment Team,

Alternatively, if you don’t have enough information either about the department or the team, you can opt for addressing the cover letter directly to the company’s hiring staff, as follows: 

Dear [Company Name] Hiring Team 

Dear [Company Name] Recruiting Staff

If all else fails (meaning, you don’t know the name of the department head or even the exact department, in addition to the recruiter) then you can use one of the good, old-fashioned:

Dear Hiring Manager,

...but NOT the impersonal and way outdated “To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir/Madam.” 

Starting a cover letter can be challenging. Our guide can show you how to start a cover letter that will get you results from the get-go. 

How to Format the Company’s Address

Before you reach the salutation, you have to make sure that the header with the recipient’s contact information is formatted correctly. 

It might not be the deciding point of whether you’ll secure an interview or not, but it will cost you points if it’s off. 

So, the first thing you want to do is add your name and surname on the upper left side of the cover letter. Underneath, you should write your professional title (if applicable), your email , and your phone number . 

Now, after you’ve also added the date, you should leave one more space and add the recipient’s contact information and, most importantly, the company’s address. 

It should look something like this on your cover letter: 

how to address a cover letter

When You Can’t Find the Company’s Address 

Some companies might have several addresses listed (as per their branches, for example), or even none at all. 

Since an application that doesn’t have an address line could end up lost or misplaced, make sure you do one of the following before skipping the company’s address completely:

  • Check all your resources, (pretty much like when you were looking for the hiring manager’s name) to find the company’s address. 
  • Use the company’s headquarter address. This is sometimes easier to find, especially if the company has several branches. 
  • Use the P.O. Box number for the company. This is not as specific as an actual address line, but if all else fails, it’s still something. 

Frequently, you’ll be asked to submit your job application (including your cover letter) electronically, or by email. In those cases, you can skip the address line altogether. 

Here’s how you’d go about addressing a cover letter in an email.

How to Address an Email Cover Letter

If you’re sending your job application through email, chances are you’ll need to format your cover letter in the body of the email, or as an attachment along with your resume.

First and foremost when you’re addressing a cover letter in an email is the subject line, which should be between 6-10 words long. 

Considering that hiring managers receive countless emails daily, you want to make sure that yours is a job application immediately. And the way to do that is straight through the subject line, which should indicate exactly the position you’re applying for and your name so that it’s easier to find through the recruiter’s swarmed mailbox. 

Here’ what we mean by that:

  • Subject Line:   John Doe - Software Development Job Application 
  • Subject Line: John Doe - Job Application for Marketing Manager Position   
  • Subject Line: John Doe - Stock Manager Job Application 

Afterward, if you’re including your cover letter in the body of the email (as opposed to attaching it as a document), begin by using a salutation, add space, and start your letter. 

If someone referred you for the position, make sure to mention that in the subject line of your email as well as in your opening paragraph.  

So, let’s see how all the above plays out in practice: 

Subject Line: John Doe - Carl Jacob’s Referral for Software Developer

I was very glad that Mr. Jacobs, a long-time partner at your firm who also happens to be my mentor from college, referred me for the Software Developer position. 

Do you want your style, personality, and overall personal brand to shine through your application? With Novorésumé, you can match your cover letter with your resume to make a lasting impression! 

matching resume and cover letter

Key Takeaways 

And that’s all there is when it comes to addressing a cover letter! You should feel much more confident in doing so by now. 

Either way, let’s go over the main points we covered throughout the article: 

  • Your cover letter address should be formal and well-researched. Don’t address the hiring manager with “hey,” “what’s up,” “hi there,” or even the old-fashioned “Dear Sir/Madam” and “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Always try to find the hiring manager’s full name and professional title through the company’s website, LinkedIn, by calling, or by asking someone who works there.
  • If you know the hiring manager’s name, go with “Dear Mr./Miss Last Name,” but if you’re unsure about their gender, marital status, or preferred pronoun, just address them using their full name.
  • If the recruiter has a professional or academic title, it’s more appropriate to address them using their title.
  • If you can’t find the contact person’s name, then address the department, faculty, or company (i.e. Dear Microsoft Hiring Team , or Dear Software Development Recruitment Team ).

Related Readings: 

  • Do I Need a Cover Letter in 2023
  • Entry-Level Cover Letter
  • Cover Letter for Internship
  • How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023

cookies image

To provide a safer experience, the best content and great communication, we use cookies. Learn how we use them for non-authenticated users.


  1. How to Address a Cover Letter: A 2022 Guide with 10+ Examples

    addressing a cover letter to someone you know

  2. How to Address a Cover Letter in 2022 (with Examples)

    addressing a cover letter to someone you know

  3. How To Write Address In Cover Letter

    addressing a cover letter to someone you know

  4. 23+ Addressing A Cover Letter To Unknown in 2020

    addressing a cover letter to someone you know

  5. 30+ How To Address A Cover Letter

    addressing a cover letter to someone you know

  6. 30+ Addressing A Cover Letter

    addressing a cover letter to someone you know


  1. When Someone is Creating Distance from You

  2. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: Miss, Mr, Mrs, and Ms

  3. What Does My Address Look Like?

  4. How to get your Cover Letter READ

  5. STEPS ON HOW TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE COVER LETTER #coverletter #stepbystep #diy #jobapplication

  6. Someone You Love


  1. How to Write a Cover Letter to Someone You Know?

    The following excerpts of sample cover letters may help. Our cover letter could be sent to either a person we already know or a person we don't know

  2. How to Address a Cover Letter in 2023 (with Examples)

    My previous cover letter was really weak and I used to spend hours adjusting it in Word. To address a cover letter without a name, you can use some variation of 'Dear Marketing Team Hiring Manager' or 'Dear Hiring Manager'

  3. How to write a Cover Letter

    A resume without a cover letter is like Lennon without McCartney - It just feels incomplete. There's no point in spending days and weeks on perfecting the resume if all you'll do with it is just mindlessly send

  4. Cover Letters and References

    Cover letters provide a venue for you to discuss your technical and transferrable skills illustrated by solid examples. Follow the standard cover letter outline to assist you with your first draft

  5. How to Address a Cover Letter in 2023

    As we already mentioned, the way you address your cover letter is important because it is the very first thing recruiters see upon opening your cover letter