To Whom It May Concern

People like to do business with people they like …

To Whom It May Concern: Cover Letter Salutations

So, you’ve heard that using that time-worn phrase To Whom It May Concern on your cover letter isn’t so cool.  But you don’t know who to address it to -and rather than spending time finding the name, you’re wondering if maybe you can squeak by with using it.  

Does that sound like you?

Stick here for a few minutes because I’ll let you know what the prevailing wisdom is about that topic below.

By taking a few moments and reading down the page to the end, I’ll give you a few more revealing tips about your cover letter that will save you much time and frustration in the long run. 

The Sweetest Sound Ever Known
Do you know what sound has been proven to be the sweetest to human’ ears?  Hang here and read on.  I’ll reveal it below, as well as how it can help keep your cover letter out of the recycle bin.

To Whom It May Concern | Cover letter Salutations

This Cover Letter Salutation will not likely get you an interview.

This is all relevant stuff if your goal is to get a job interviewHow much time is wasted by going through the long, arduous process and coming away with no interview?

The Elusive Magical Combination of Words
If you are getting ready to submit a resume and are now wondering what magical words to use in your cover letter that might increase the odds you’ll get an interview, I have some good news and some bad news. 

I’ll lead with the bad news …
Online resources offering free cover letter tips and guidelines on How to Write a Custom Cover Letter, that I’ve seen, are a disappointment.

Yes, you can get the format and some simple templates –which might be useful.

No one will actually tell you what to write to best showcase your talent, your problem solving skills or your passion.

Free Cover Letter Samples?
More bad news … This might look inviting, but really, do you really want to submit your resume with a cover letter, the likes of which every Tom, Dick, Jane and Sally is using?  Do you really have that much time to waste?

The Good News
If there is a sense of urgency attached to becoming gainfully employed –or, in some cases landing a new or better job, like there was for me, you may need, as I did, something special to help you get the words right.  I found a website that could do just that. 


Here’s What I Found
This is the best site I found that promised to help weave me a resume cover letter that would get my resume into the short stack of applicants that warranted further attention –as in an invitation to come in for an interview.

Click Here to Learn About The Amazing Cover Letter Creator


What’s So Bad About “To Whom It May Concern”, Anyway?
When I was younger I used that salutation with wild abandon on business correspondence, resumes, and cover letters. 

The folly of using that phrase was lost on me.  Eventually, someone much older (and wiser) pointed out to me that if I hoped to favorably impress someone with whatever I was sending them, I should start by dispensing with that threadbare phrase.

You must understand by now (if not, I’m about to enlighten you) that most cover letters (and sadly, the resumes that are attached) end up in the circular file.  (That’s a polite term for the wastebasket).

There are other salutations that don’t exactly endear the greeter to the reader.

  • Dear sir or Madam
  • Dear Sirs
  • Attn: Personnel Dept.
  • Attn: Hiring Manager

When you use these, the ‘secret telegraph’ message this transmits is that the writer is too lazy to do the research necessary to come up with a proper name.


Did You Know …?  This is key …and, many get it wrong.

Scientists have proven in their research that the most delightfully appealing sound known to humans is the sound of his or her own name. 

It ranks above others on the Top Ten List; sounds like the baby’s first crying sound, rain on the roof, the waves washing up on a beach, or the crackle of a campfire.

It then, stands to reason that seeing your name in a salutation at the top of a page would rank right up there, too; much higher than, say, the lame – Attn: Hiring Manager.


How Do I Find the Guy’s Name? It Wasn’t On the Job Posting?!
The Internet makes is possible to find things that used to require a trip to the library and the enlistment of a library worker to help research.  The search results are instant.  All one needs are the proper keyword phrases to plug in. 

In my view, to make the best use of my time, I wouldn’t spend too much time dinking around on the Internet.  If what I was looking for didn’t come up quickly, I’d pick up the phone and call the company.    

Whoever answers the phone could likely inform you of the name of the person who is accepting incoming resumes; and the proper name of the department he or she works in.

The whole process might take 5-10 minutes, tops.

Do Yourself a Favor –Give Someone the Pleasure
Imagine being alone and lost on a mountain.  How sweet would it be to hear your name spoken out loud? 

Give the hiring manager that same warm fuzzy feeling –address him by his (or her) proper name.  It’s the first step in getting to know someone and someone getting to know you.  Neglect this at your own peril. 


Here’s a Bigger Tip

If you try and just cannot obtain the proper name of an individual who is reviewing resumes, my advice is to use the ‘No-Name’ procedure.  In place of the proper name, use a little blurb centered at the top of the page stating something like:

“I very much wanted to address this to you by name but was unable to obtain it.”

At the very least you will demonstrate you are not ignorant of the importance of using the proper name.  It will likely be noticed as a good will gesture.

Note:  This only works when you really cannot obtain the name after a reasonable search.  If the person receives other cover letters with his proper name in the salutation, yours will look silly.  That notion is incentive enough for me to dig deep.


Find Out More
I truly hope you’ve found value in the suggestions, anecdotes and tips I’ve given you.  The information on this page is only a beginning of what you need to ensure you have the best chance of being invited for a job interview. 

What I encourage you to do is take a close look at The Amazing Cover Letter Creator.  Find out how special a cover letter can be, what it costs (not so much, in the big picture, considering what could be gained) and what is included. 

Ultimately, you want a cover letter that will cause the reader to wonder why it took you so long to surface.  After all, who has time to waste on anything less.  Life is too short.

Learn More About The Amazing Cover Letter Creator

 If you have found any of this information to be useful, please ‘Share’ it, and/or ‘Like’ it so others can find it too.  Social buttons found on each page.  Thank you for spending some time here.


Recent Visitors to this page ALSO visited these pages:
Tips for a Great Cover Letter
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Author Jim Sweeney

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Other visitors found this page after searching for the following keywords: To Whom It May Concern, free, custom, personalized, cover letter tips, job interview, job search, resume, cover letter, format, template, samples, examples, greeting


Further Information:

The Sweetest Sound

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9 Responses to “To Whom It May Concern”

  1. Janice Behop says:

    Hi –

    I’ve been writing To Whom … since I wrote my own absentee excuses in high school.

    I guess it isn’t helping me in my job search. Thanks for the eye opener.


  2. Autumn says:

    It makes sense. Everyone likes to be acknowledged by their name and subconsciously the phrase “To whom it may concern” could be perceived as disrespect. I don’t think anyone sane hears that phrase and goes “Oh he dissed me!”, but a lot of the decisions we make on a daily basis are directly related to our subconsciousness. Forget getting employed, nowadays it’s hard to even get an interview. So you know what? Every little tip helps.

  3. David says:

    Interesting take on the generic “To whom it may concern” phrase to start a cover letter. You know, I’ve done tons of research already online on cover letters and although you can find some good information, the information is all over the place and it’s really hard to access all of it, all at the same time.

    I’d rather save myself the headache and the time and instead get a system like The Amazing Cover Letter Creator and just get things done the proper way. It’s stupid to risk not getting an interview because you were too cheap to learn about effective cover letters.

    The job market is very competitive as things are, so I have to make sure I get everything ready perfectly.

    • Dave Potts says:

      Yes David –

      Thanks for the note. Stakes are high. There’s a lot riding on that cover letter.
      There is no point in getting lackadaisical about it.

      Unless you don’t really need a job.

      Dave P

  4. Brody says:

    Looking back I think all my cover letters started with “To whom it may concern.” If I’m working in HR and sifting through hundreds of resumes on a yearly basis, I’m probably not going to give the same “To whom it may concern” cover letters as much attention as something more unique. I guess it’s only human nature that we pay closer attention to something new and more interesting. I’m in need of a change, that’s for sure.

    • Dave Potts says:

      Brody –

      Thanks for the note. I agree and so do all the scholars. 🙂

      Standing apart from the crowd is the goal.

      Dave Potts

  5. LATOYA says:

    It’s important to remember that the cover letter, like the resume, is a marketing tool. Use it to show how your experience and skills can directly help the employer. Doing so demonstrates to them that you have taken the time to customize your application to meet their needs.


    • Dave Potts says:

      Thanks for the message, Latoya. I feel as you do. Something must
      separate us from the crowded field.

      When adjusting your application (or resume, or cover letter), it
      obviously requires doing some research to determine what those
      needs are. They are frequently more broad in scope than what is
      revealed in the job posting.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Dave P

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