How To Do A Cover Letter With No Address

Posted on by Jon Shields

When it comes to addressing a cover letter, advice columns frequently spotlight these two pitfalls:

  • Mistake 1: Failing to address your cover letter to a specific person
  • Mistake 2: Addressing a cover letter to the wrong person

Most job postings don’t specify who will be reading your cover letter. This puts job seekers in a tricky situation. Fixing the first mistake could cause you to make the second. So what’s the best way to replace “To Whom It May Concern” atop your cover letter?

Here are 4 top tips for figuring out who to address your cover letter to:

1) Don’t Address the Recruiter

For many job openings, the first person you need to impress is a corporate recruiter. That doesn’t mean you should address your cover letter to them.

“Recruiters do not read cover letters,” a long-time healthcare recruiter told Jobscan. “Bottom line.”

That might be an overstatement — most don’t, some do — but many recruiters would admit that they aren’t the intended audience of a cover letter. “It’s mostly for the hiring manager,” said a recruiter in the non-profit industry. “For us [recruiters], it’s just an extra step in an already elongated process.”

The healthcare recruiter agreed: “If you’re sending it straight to a hiring manager who’s looking at a much lower number of applicants looking in, they might actually read that.”

In order for your cover letter to make an impact with a hiring manager, it’s up to your resume to get past a recruiter and the tracking system they use to rank and filter applicants. Try analyzing your resume against the job description below to receive instant optimization tips and recruiter insights so that the time you spent crafting your cover letter isn’t in vain.

2) Search the Company Website and LinkedIn

Few job postings list the hiring manager by name but many will tell you the position to which you’d be reporting.

With this information, a little detective work can reveal the name of the hiring manager.

How to Search for a Hiring Manager’s Name on a Company Website

Start off by browsing the company’s website. Look for an about page, company directory, or contact page. These pages are frequently linked at the very bottom of the website. Companies that feature employees on their about page make it much easier to figure out who will be reading your cover letter.

You can also try searching the website. If the website doesn’t have a built in search bar, use this syntax in Google:

“[position you’ll be reporting to]” site:company website

This will reveal hard-to-find about pages or other mentions of the position in the company’s blog posts, press releases, and other pages.

How to Search for a Hiring Manager on LinkedIn

If a company doesn’t list the hiring manager on their website, LinkedIn is your next best resource.

Start off by searching for the company page on LinkedIn. Once you’re on the company’s LinkedIn page, click “See all X employees on LinkedIn” near the top.

Depending on the company size, you can either browse all positions or narrow your results by adding search terms to the search bar (e.g. “Marketing Manager”) and utilizing the “Current companies” filters on the right side of the screen.

Search for the “reports to” position from the job listing. If it wasn’t provided in the listing, search for keywords related to your prospective department (e.g. “marketing”). If the company uses an intuitive corporate hierarchy you should be able to determine who will be reading the cover letter.

3) Contact the Company Directly

There is nothing wrong with calling or emailing the company to ask for the name of the hiring manager. Be polite and honest with the administrative assistant or customer service representative. Explain that you’re about to apply for a job and you’d like to know who you should address in your cover letter.

If they aren’t able to provide an answer or transfer you to someone who knows, let it go. The last thing you need is word getting back to the hiring manager that you were pushy with one of their colleagues.

4) If you still can’t figure out the name of the hiring manager…

If your investigation doesn’t yield any results, to whom should you address your cover letter?

Aim High When Addressing a Cover Letter

You don’t want to address your cover letter to the wrong person, but if you do, it’s better to guess high than low. If you are only able to track down a list of executives, Lily Zhang of The Muse suggests that addressing a cover letter to a high-level department head is still in your best interest. “In the end, no one will fault you for addressing the letter higher up than necessary,” she writes. “This approach is definitely better than not using a name in your cover letter because it still shows the time and effort you took to find out who the department head is.”

“To Whom it May Concern” Alternatives

Using “To Whom it May Concern” is considered outdated and overly formal in many hiring circles. It also does nothing to help you stand out as it’s the go-to salutation most applicants use when addressing a cover letter to an unknown recipient.

If you know the position you’d be reporting to, use that. At very least, “Dear Customer Experience Manager” shows that you carefully read the job posting.

“Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Team” are a couple generic alternatives that are a little less stuffy than “To Whom it May Concern.” You can also address your letter to the appropriate department, for example “To the Design Department” or “Dear Engineering Department.”

 

As with many aspects of the job application process, demonstrating that you put in some extra effort can make a difference. Doing some research before addressing a cover letter contributes to a positive first impression.

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No Company Info? Write a Great Cover Letter Anyway

I get notes in my inbox every day, but this one stood out — so I decided to give it a little extra attention!

If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask me, feel free to send it to info@adminsecret.com. Due to volume I can’t always get to every question, but I’ll do my best to send you a quick response.






Hi Kayla,

I have a question. When responding to job postings on Craigslist, you will not know the company, address or person to address etc. How does one format a CV for such an instance? Besides the typical Dear Sir or Madam, there is no other formatting/information that one could include for a professional cover letter other than personal contact info and the body of the letter and of course date. I am confused on how to write a cover letter for a response like this.

Thank you,
Robin



Hi Robin, thanks for emailing!

This is an excellent question. Craigslist postings are tough because you can’t just Google the email that’s listed, and sometimes the poster won’t even put in the name of the company. If that’s the case, customize your cover letter to the industry and not that particular company — this can also save you some time if you’re applying to multiple Craigslist postings that all have zero direct contact information.

The administrative field is great for customizing because you can be an admin in a number of different industries, but your job essentially will be the same: you’re the rock that holds everyone together.

Here’s what to emphasize:

• How much money you saved your previous employer. Give specific amounts if you can, otherwise an educated guess is fine- just don’t exaggerate!

• Your computer skills: typing wpm rate, and which programs you’re familiar with

• Customer service experience. This is a great one, because every company wants a shining star in their customer service department.

• Your ability to learn quickly and adapt — an essential job function of any admin. A more professional way to put this would be, “Driven, adaptable and graceful under pressure.”

• Your industry experience. If you’re not sure which industry you’re applying for, list all the industries you’ve worked in.

If the Craigslist post actually does have a little bit of information about the company, try the tips in our article Stalk Your Way to a New Job. There are plenty of tips on how to sneakily get lots of information about a company even with the tiniest lead, so you can more easily customize your cover letter.

Good luck and keep us posted!


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