In the world of online communication, often the only information you have about a company is its name and e-mail address. But, if you're applying for a job, you'll need to show the company that you're not only qualified for the position, but that you're also interested and invested in the company -- which may mean seeking out the information you lack. However, if you must write a cover letter and don't have a physical address for the company, you have some options.
Research the company as much as you can to find out the address of the company headquarters or Human Resources department. Visit the company's website and look for the "Contact Us" or "About Us" sections, which often provide physical addresses. If that doesn't bear fruit, visit the Web page for the Department of Revenue or Department of State in your state and perform a business name search. This will often provide information -- including a physical address -- for all companies registered in the state. If you manage to find the company's address in this way, it willv show the type of initiative that your prospective employer is looking for.
Type the specific name of the hiring manager, Human Resources director or other company contact at the top left of the cover letter, justified to the left margin. All the receiver's information will be left-justified at the top left of the paper.
Type the title of the company contact just under the name of the person.
Type the company name just under the company contact's title.
Type any physical address information you may have obtained from your search. If you've only managed to find a city and state for the company, type that on the line just below the company name. If you have a street address, type the street address on one line, and then type the city, state and ZIP code on the line below.
Type the e-mail address of the person or entity receiving the letter on the line just below any city, state and ZIP code you may have, or at the very bottom of the address section if you didn't locate the physical address.
Begin your cover letter by addressing the specific person to which the letter will be sent. Use the person's full name, if you know it. As a fall-back, you can address the letter to "Dear Hiring Manager," or "Dear IT Department Recruiter."
- You should also include your own name, title -- if you have one -- and physical address near the top of the cover letter, justified to the right of the paper. If you're e-mailing your cover letter and resume to your prospective employer, include the documents as an attachment, in the PDF -- or Portable Document Format -- which is compatible with most computers. You can also paste the cover letter into the body of your e-mail, but be sure to also include that attached, printable copy.
About the Author
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
We know it's frustrating when a job posting doesn't include the name of the person in charge of the hiring process.
We also know that's not an excuse to slap any salutation on your cover letter and send your application off.
According to Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, you should always do some research to figure out who exactly the person reading your letter will be.
You can even play it safe by writing at the beginning of your cover letter: "I noticed you're working in [whatever department] at [whatever company]," so you show that based on your research, it looks like they're involved in the hiring process.
In the case that you absolutely, positively can't find a person's name, Augustine said certain ways of addressing your cover letter are more off-putting than others. For example, "Dear Hiring Manager" and "Dear Recruiter" aren't great openings, but they're the best of many bad options.
Here's the full list of cover-letter openings, ranked in reverse order of egregiousness.
Business Insider staff
P.S. This advice doesn't apply in the case of an anonymous job posting, when a company is deliberately keeping their name and the names of their employees confidential.
5. "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear Recruiter"
The language in your cover letter should be at once professional and conversational, Augustine said. And these openings aren't overly formal or casual, which is a plus.
But the lack of customization — you could submit this letter to any company you're applying to — will still stand out.
"You're not earning brownie points" with this salutation, Augustine said. "But you're not putting people off" either.
4. "Dear HR Professional"
Augustine said this opening isn't necessarily accurate.
The person reading your application might not work in the company's human resources department, or they might call themselves a recruiter instead of a human resources professional.
3. "Hello" or "Hi"
With "Hello" and no name after it, you've gotten the conversational part down, but you've still failed to customize your letter.
"Hi" is a double whammy, since not only is it not customized, but it can also be considered slang, Augustine said.
2. "Dear Sir or Madam"
You might think you're being clever by covering your bases in terms of gender, Augustine said. But you're actually making a big mistake by being so formal.
If you're applying to a startup, for example, Augustine said this kind of language probably wouldn't fit the company culture.
Even if you're applying to a more traditional company, the fact that your opening isn't customized at all is a big turn-off.
1. "To Whom It May Concern"
"It's so incredibly formal in its language," Augustine said of this opening. "I read that and I think, 'This person doesn't care at all.'"
If they did care, they would have tried to figure out who exactly the recruiter or the hiring manager is.
Moreover, "To Whom It May Concern" conveys exactly the opposite impression of professional and conversational that you're trying to project.
Augustine's rule of thumb when writing cover letters is to ask yourself: If this letter was coming to me, would I want to read it? Chances are good that, if someone addressed you this way, you wouldn't be so intrigued.