How to Address a Cover Letter with a Name

April 23, 2020

How to address a cover letter with a name? We all know how important this step is. If you didn’t know, cover letters are a deal-breaker nine times out of ten. But there is so much that goes into a cover letter, it can be challenging to make sure you’re making the right choice. With a greeting being one of the first things you do before even putting together your four paragraphs, if you’re stuck there then you might end up spending hours on a cover letter- no, thanks!

So, how to address a cover letter with a name? It’s always best to address a cover letter with a name, rather than simply saying ‘Sir’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’. It’s best to be as specific as possible to show your interest. When using a name, you can use a personal title such as Ms. or Mr. You may also use just the first name, the last name, or the full name.

If you’re wondering how to properly address someone in your cover letter with a name, then you have come to the right place. We are going to discuss the best- and worst- ways to address someone with a name in your cover letter. These hints, tips, and tricks will help you to succeed in your cover letter land your dream job…so sharpen your pencils!

How to Address a Cover Letter With a Name? (4 Things to Keep in Mind)

How to Address a Cover Letter With a Name examples

Addressing with a name is one of the most important things you can do when you’re creating a cover letter, and there are specific reasons for this (which we will dive into soon).

But, it’s important to know how to do it.

If you end up using their name incorrectly it will do far more damage than using a typical ‘To Whom It May Concern’ greeting, which everyone hates.

1. Why is it Important to Address with a Name in a Cover Letter?

When you’re a hiring manager, you’re dealing with a literal sea of applicants. Even jobs you might not think are high on the dream job list can be riddled with hopeful applicants, especially in larger areas or when there are a lot of job shortages and lay-offs.

You don’t want to be like everyone else applying!

But how can you stand out, when there are 200+ top-notch applicants?

One of the quickest and easiest ways to stand out in a cover letter is to use someone’s name in your greeting. This shows that you actually took the time to look at the job posting for a name to make it more personalized.

However, if there is no name on the job posting, then you will need to do a little bit of digging. This is even better, though, as it shows that you weren’t going to give up just because it wasn’t going to be easy. You were willing to research the company and actually care about who the cover letter was going to, and the receiving end will definitely take note of this.  

Last but not least, the hiring manager hates the typical greetings that most people use on their copy-pasted cover letters.

The words ‘To Whom It May Concern’ can likely lead to automatic rejection, while ‘Dear’, ‘Sir’, and ‘Madam’ are simply old-fashioned and outdated. Aside from that, it’s also highly impersonal, and who wants to read something like that?

2. Should You Use a Personal Title?

When someone is going to use a name in their cover letter, they sometimes wonder whether or not a personal title should be included. And, especially in this day and age, unless you’re absolutely certain of someone’s personal title, it’s almost always best to leave it out. This is simply due to the fact that you don’t want to offend anyone- especially a person you’re trying to persuade into hiring you.

However, if it’s fairly obvious what their title is- whether it be Mrs., Ms., Mr., Dr. or Prfsr., then you should use it, such as- “Dear Ms. Angela Davis”, or “Hello Dr. Stephen Lee”. 

When it comes to the issue of a woman, though, you should never use the personal title of Mrs. You never know if someone is separated or divorced, and you would hate to assume something just because they are a lady.

That being said, you should always use Ms. for a woman unless you’re positive about another personal title.

3. Should You Use the Full Name?

Another common concern is whether or not to use the full name, but you shouldn’t be overly worried about this particular situation.

There is nothing wrong with using the full name, although some may prefer to use a single name- either the first or last. Either way, you are showing a more personal touch on your resume that the hiring manager likes to see.

For instance, you can do the following:

  • Dear Dr. Jean Blue
  • Hello Ms. Stevens
  • Greetings Mr. Bryan

You can even ditch the greeting entirely and simply use their name. In this case, you would simply write:

  • Barbara Adams
  • Johnson
  • Alex

As you can see, if you’re not going to enter any type of greeting or personal title with your name, it looks a lot more professional to put the entire name.

The hiring manager knows that, sometimes, this is simply impossible as some companies don’t have access to this type of information. Showing something personal is always better than nothing at all.

4. What if You Can’t Find a Name?

What if you have looked high and low and there is still no name? Well, you should still refrain from using impersonal greetings without a name. Yes, it might make it a bit more challenging to create a striking, personal greeting for your cover letter, but it doesn’t make it impossible.

A lot of the time, company websites will have a list of employees without referencing which one is the hiring manager.

In this instance you will want to find the department you’re applying to and use the top name on the list. He or she might not actually be the hiring manager, but everyone will know which department to send your letter to.

When there are no names listed whatsoever, you can always address the department instead. Think of a greeting such as “Dear Customer Service Hiring Team” or “Hello Sales Hiring Force”.

Related Questions

How do you address a woman in a cover letter?

If you know the woman is not married, you can use Miss or Ms. If you know, for a fact, that she is happily married (and it’s not likely you would know this information unless it’s someone you know personally), then feel free to use Mrs. But most of the time, Ms. if the safest option for women whether they’re married or not.

What to say instead of “To Whom It May Concern”?

Avoid ‘To Whom It May Concern’ at all costs and opt for one of these greetings in your cover letter instead: Dear Hiring Manager, Dear, Greetings, Hello, Good Day. Simply make it your goal, when it comes to your cover letter, to try and find a name for your greeting. If not, one of these other greetings will work- but avoid ‘To Whom It May Concern’ at all costs. It’s terrible, impersonal, and hiring managers hate it.


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