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Dear Sir or Madam?

The Hiring Process Resumes and Cover Letters


I want to send a cover letter and resume, but I can’t find the hiring manager’s name. Which is better, “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”?



Both of those options telegraph to the employer the idea that you couldn’t be bothered to do any research. That will do you no favors.

Instead, do everything humanly possible to find the name of the hiring manager. At an employer panel, FCWS staff asked the same question. The employers all agreed on the answer: “There’s an Internet out there, people, use it!”

How might you do that? Try these:

• Start with the company website. Read it thoroughly; see if there is a staff directory.
• Google the company.
• Talk with someone who works there.
• Use Reference USA (an online database; you can use it free with your Frederick County Public Libraries card number.) Reference USA calls nearly every company in the country once a year to update their information. Often it includes a list of the company officers and managers.
• Use LinkedIn. Type the job title you imagine the hiring manager has into the search box, along with the company name. (This will come in handy before the interview too.)
• Call the receptionist at the company and ask the name of the hiring manager.

If all that fails you, and ONLY then, consider “Dear Employer,” or “Dear Human Resources Professional.” You could even set up your cover letter as a memo, leaving out the name.

Almost anything is better than “Dear Sir or Madam.”





About the Author

Beth Davis-Reinhold

Beth Davis-Reinhold is an instructor at Frederick County Workforce Services, where she has worked for over 20 years. She teaches job search seminars and basic computer skills. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, and is Internet and Computing Core Certified (IC3). Beth has been a member of Toastmasters International for more than 15 years, and is an Advanced Communicator Silver. A graduate of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Beth has also studied American Sign Language for many years. In addition to many sundry projects for FCWS, Beth writes its “Ask the Career Coach” blog.