Ask an Expert: How to Address a Cover Letter When You Don't Know the Hiring Manager's Name

Address a Cover Letter An AOL Jobs reader asks, "if you don't know the person's name/title, what is the best way to address a cover letter?"

Frequently jobs are posted without disclosing the name of the hiring manager or recruiter. Addressing the cover letter to "Whom it May Concern" is so impersonal and certainly makes it harder to build rapport with the hiring authority. But what can a job seeker do when they don't know the hiring manager's name? Here are some suggestions.

Make a phone call. Call information or look online to find the main phone number of the company and ask the operator or receptionist for the direct number or email address of the person with the title listed on the job spec. For example you may ask for the number of the office supervisor or the head of human resources. Don't specify that the call is in reference to an open position. Once you have the number you can call the extension and then you will know the name of the person. You can simply say that you are calling to let them know you are sending information or if you get voice mail there's really no need to leave a message; just note the name. If the operator or receptionist gives you the email address, it's very likely that the email address contains the person's name (at the very least it should contain their last name) and this is sufficient enough to create a customized cover letter.

Do a Google search. Place the name of the company and the person's title in a search engine and see what results are returned. You may be able to find the name of the person in the position and even some other key information such as their bio. Or you may be able to find the name of someone else in the same department and you could call or email that person to see if you can get the direct contact information on the person you are really trying to reach.

Search LinkedIn. Place the company and job title name into the LinkedIn search box and see what results are returned. Not only may you be able to find the hiring manager this way, but you may also be able to find their connections and turn a cold job board lead into a warm introduction.

Search Jigsaw. Jigsaw is the largest online, crowd-sourced directory, containing more than 24 million business contacts. Jigsaw is updated by a community of more than 1.5 million members, and uses the power of crowd-sourcing to create one of the most complete and accurate directory of business contact information available. Search Jigsaw based on the information you have about the hiring manager and see if you can find their contact information.

No one strategy will work every time and there will be situations where despite your hard work you can't find the contact name for the job posting. In those cases you will need to stick with the default "To Whom it May Concern" but if you are able to find the name of the hiring manager you may just impress him or her with your resourcefulness and tenacity.


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4 Comments

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oogbebor

hi

August 01 2011 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mcager

Yea right. Maybe hell will freeze too.

May 03 2011 at 8:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hotfudgedreams

I enjoyed your article, full of good tips on how to personalize my cover letter. The phone call was silver, but Dave's comment on the classic "Dear Madam/Sir" is gold! Thank you!

May 03 2011 at 8:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

Barbara,

I feel that you left out an important method that is or was commonly used years ago. As a human resource manager, I like to see cover letters regarding resumes which state "Dear Sir/Madam" It is a time tested and acceptable way to address a person when you do not know their name. Anyway, good article.

May 03 2011 at 7:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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