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Appropriate Salutations For Cover Letters

Even in the age of digital communication, you still need a cover letter when you send along your resume for a job. The cover letter introduces you to the company. It also gives you an opportunity to explain your skills and why you think you are a match for the position. The salutation in a cover letter, if done correctly, shows that you are polite and considerate and really interested in the job.

Dear Mr. or Ms.

Unless the person is a doctor or has another title, use "Mr." for men and "Ms." for women. Try to avoid using "Miss" or "Mrs." for women to avoid any offense. Always use the name of the person to whom you should address the cover letter. Knowing the name of the person shows that you have taken the initiative to learn more about the company. Double check the spelling of the person's name before you send off the letter. If the person has a first name that could be the name of a man or a woman, use his or her full name in the salutation, for example "Dear Terry Smith."

Finding the Name

Some job postings include the name of the person to address the cover letter to. If you cannot find the name in the posting or by searching the company's website, contact the company, either by phone or email. You only need to reach a receptionist or administrative assistant to discover the person's name. It's best to always avoid using a generic salutation such as "To Whom It May Concern," "Dear Madam or Sir" or "Dear Hiring Manager."

Formality

A cover letter needs to be formal. Use a colon at the end of the salutation to show that you are writing a professional letter. Also use "Dear" instead of any other greeting. A greeting such as "Good Day" or "Hello" is not formal enough for a business letter. Save those salutations for personal emails or letters to people who are not in a position to hire you.

Closing

How you close the letter is as important as how you open it. "Sincerely," followed by a few spaces and your full name, is a fool-proof way to close the letter. Sincerely is formal but not too stuffy. Before you type the closing, you may wish to write a sentence thanking the person for her time, such as "Thank you for your consideration." Other appropriate closings include "Kind regards" or "Best wishes." Closings such as "Yours truly" are usually too personal for a professional cover letter.

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.

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Cover Letter Salutation Examples

Get Formatting and Punctuation Tips

What is a cover letter salutation? A salutation is the greeting you include at the beginning of a cover letter written to apply for a job. In your salutation, you will set the tone for your letter, which should be professional and appropriate. Avoid casual salutations (“Hey There” or “Hi” or “Hello”) in your job search correspondence.

How to Write a Cover Letter Salutation

When you're writing a cover letter or sending an email message to apply for a job, it's important to include an appropriate salutation at the beginning of the cover letter or message.

Standard business correspondence formatting requires that, after providing your own contact information and the date of your letter, you then write down your contact person’s name, the company’s name, and the company’s address.

The formal salutation / greeting comes next: “Dear [Contact Person’s name].” If you have a contact person for your letter, be sure to include their personal title and name in the salutation (i.e. "Dear Mr. Franklin"). If you are unsure of the reader's gender, simply state their full name and avoid the personal title (i.e. "Dear Jamie Smith"). Leave one blank line after the salutation.

You should always make every effort to find a contact name to use in your letter. It leaves a good impression on the hiring manager if you have taken the time to use their name, especially if you needed to work a little to find it.

If this information was not provided in the job announcement and you cannot find it on the company’s web site, then it is a good idea to call the company, ask to be forwarded to their Human Resources department (if they have one), explain that you will be applying for a job there, and ask for the name of their hiring manager.

When you can't find a contact person or if you are unsure of who will be reading your cover letter, you can use a generic salutation (i.e. “Dear Hiring Manager”).

When You Have a Contact Person

The following is a list of letter salutation examples that are appropriate for cover letters and other employment-related correspondence when you have the name of a contact.

  • Dear Mr. Jones

  • Dear Ms. Brown

  • Dear Riley Doe

  • Dear Dr. Haven

  • Dear Professor Lawrence

Punctuation

Follow the salutation with a colon or comma, and then start the first paragraph of your letter on the following line. For example:

Dear Mr. Smith:

First paragraph of letter.

When You Don't Have a Contact Person

Many companies don't list a contact person when they post jobs, because they have a team of hiring staff who sort through cover letters and resumes before passing them to the hiring manager for the appropriate department.

They prefer to leave the hiring manager anonymous until he or she contacts you for an interview.

An organization may also not want to disclose who the hiring manger is to avoid emails and phone calls from applicants, particularly if they anticipate receiving a large number of applications from potential job candidates. So, don't worry if you can't find someone to address your letter to. It will be forwarded to the correct department and recipient.

If you don't have a contact person at the company, either leave off the salutation from your cover letter and start with the first paragraph of your letter or, better yet, use a general salutation. When using a general salutation, capitalize the nouns.

Examples of General Salutations

Punctuation

Follow the salutation with a colon or comma before beginning your first paragraph on the following line. For example:

Dear XYZ Enterprises Recruiter,

First paragraph of letter.

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