I am often asked how to properly address the cover letter when submitting a resume for a job application. When a specific name is not specified in the job advertisement, the key is to remain gender neutral.
Although it may seem unbelievable in this day and age, but I still regularly receive resumes addressed to only “Dear Sir”. A mistake such as this, one that shows a lack of respect and that the candidate is quick to assume as opposed to verify the details, irks some recruiters enough that they simply delete the application without ever reading the resume.
Addressing your cover letter gender neutral greeting is a quick and easy way to avoid this. You could use “Dear Human Resources”, “Dear ABC Company Recruiter”, “Dear Personnel Manager” or “Dear Hiring Manager”. Even “Dear Sir or Madam” of “To Whom It May Concern” is better than just “Dear Sir”. If you are only using the email as your cover letter (as opposed to a formal cover letter in a file), you can just not use a greeting and just start with the body of the letter.
Sometimes, even when a name of the recruiter is given in the job ad, you cannot be 100 percent sure as to the gender of the person. Pat, Leslie, Taylor, Sam and Kim, as well as countless other names could all be male or female. In this case, it is best to use a greeting like “Dear Pat Smith” as it is very professional, as well as completely neutral as it pertains to gender. Where you were only given the first initial of the recruiter, “Dear Mr./Ms. P. Smith” is acceptable.
Remember, when it comes to addressing your cover letter, never assume!
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