Often, when you are sending a resume electronically or applying for a job via a company job board, it can be difficult to know who will be reviewing your documents. While it is important to include a cover letter, it might feel strange or impersonal when you are not addressing the letter to a specific person. However, there are ways you can make an anonymous-feeling submission sound professional.
Try to Narrow the Name Field
You can increase the odds of your cover letter and resume getting a review if you address it to the decision-making party in the company. Employ every resource to track down the name of the appropriate contact person before you send a cover letter to an unnamed person. Check the company website and look for the name of the hiring manager, or the head of human resources. You may also search for the name of the head of the department you want to work with. If all efforts fail, call the company operator or receptionist and, for example, say, “I’m submitting a resume for the open graphic designer position. To whom should I address it?"
When There’s Absolutely No Name
Of course, many receptionists tell callers, “Just use the online submission form, it will go to the right people,” as a way of gate-keeping for higher-ups. If your only option is addressing your cover letter to an unnamed employer, consider these introductions:
- To Whom it May Concern
- Dear Sir/Madam
- Attention: (Department Name) Hiring Manager
- Attention: Human resources director
Another option, particularly when you are asked to cut and paste a cover letter into an online submission form, is to simply launch into the body of the cover letter itself, starting out with an enthusiastic introduction.
I was very happy to learn the ABC Co. is looking for an experienced graphic designer. As you will see in my resume, I am an award-winning designer with more than 12 years of agency experience.
If you are using this approach, resist the urge to use a generic, all-purpose form letter. Personalize it as much as possible with specific details about the company so it is clear you are not sending out mass job applications, and have given serious thought to this particular job.
After reading about how ABC Co. won a workplace excellence award earlier this year, I have been enthusiastically checking your job openings with the hopes that something in my area of expertise would become available.
Why a Cover Letter is Important
Do not be deterred from sending a cover letter just because you are sending it to an unnamed party. Cover letters allow you to pull together and summarize all areas of your resume, CV or application, as well as go into detail about why you want the job. A cover letter also shows you have put thought and effort into your application, and it sets you apart as a professional with solid communication skills.
About the Author
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.
Suggest an Article Correction
The "hiring manager" is generally the actual person to whom one will report if hired. You may not have much luck sussing out that person, so you will likely have to address your cover letter to HR. Not only that, the actual hiring manager may simply kick your letter downstairs to HR (who will kick it back up to him/her if your quals are attractive). Yeah, it's stupid.
IMO using "Dear Human Resources" or "Dear XYZ Company" does not stand out. It's really better, again, IMO, to address a cover letter to a person by name, and especially considering the name can be found with little effort.
Look for the name of the director of HR on the company's website. Or search LinkedIn. Or simply call the company and ask the receptionist for the name of the person who receives resumes. Verify the spelling of the person's name and his/her title. Then have at it with your cover letter.
For a large company the actual director of HR may never see your letter. FWIW at least you will know you will have properly directed your letter to a person by name.