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Should You Use “To Whom It May Concern” In Your Cover Letter

Recruiter-backed alternatives to 'To Whom It May Concern'. Learn how to personalize your cover letter with tailored greetings, and get tips on researching the hiring manager's name to make a strong, professional first impression.

4 months ago   •   6 min read

One of the hardest parts of writing a cover letter is getting the greeting right. After all, it’s a letter, so you have to address it to someone...

But who do you address it to? You may have heard that it’s not a good idea to use “to whom it may concern” in your cover letter. But if you can’t use that phrase, what should you use instead?

One easy answer is “Dear hiring manager.” It’s to-the-point and respectful without being as impersonal.

However, if you can find the person’s name, that’s even better— and these days, with all the information available on company websites and LinkedIn, people may expect that if you care about getting this job, you’ll do enough research to learn their name.

In this article, we’ll discuss when you might be able to get away with using “to whom it may concern,” why it’s usually a bad idea, alternatives to this phrase, and how to become an expert researcher to find the name of the person who will be hiring you.

Let’s get started!

Key advice from a recruiter to keep in mind when trying to decide if you should start your cover letter with ‘To whom it may concern’

When it’s ok to use a generic greeting like “to whom it may concern”

Although "To whom it may concern" is seen as as outdated or impersonal in modern job markets, there are specific situations where you may still want to use it:

Formal or traditional industries

In academia, where traditions are respected, using "To Whom It May Concern" demonstrates an understanding of and respect for established protocols.

Research the culture of the industry or organization. If their communication typically uses a formal tone, you’re good to go.

Large organizations with unknown recipients

When you’re applying to a multinational corporation where you’re not exactly sure who will be reviewing your letter, and the company's communication style is generic. In this case, you can also use “Dear Hiring Manager” or one of the other alternatives we suggest later in this article.

With large organizations, you can use “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager” as a safe option when the company structure is complex and you can’t identify a specific person. However, try to at least send your greeting to the department (e.g., "To Whom It May Concern in the Marketing Department").

When personalization is not possible

If the job listing provides no specific contact information and your research yields no results.

It's better to use a generic yet respectful greeting than to guess incorrectly. However, if you can find any information at all, drop the generic greeting like a hot potato.

In cultures where it’s the norm

In certain cultures or regions, formal greetings are still the norm, especially in conservative sectors.

Understand the larger cultural context of the company. In some global markets, "To Whom It May Concern" is still standard practice.

When not to use a generic greeting

Even though there are a few cases where you can get away with it, the majority of the time using "To Whom It May Concern" is not your best option. Here are some situations where you should avoid it at all costs:

In modern, informal industries

In tech startups or creative fields like advertising or design, where more casual and innovative cultures thrive.

Many modern industries value personality and creativity. Using a generic and formal tone in your cover letter can suggest a lack of effort or research in understanding the company's culture.

When information is available

If the job listing includes the name of the hiring manager or if you've found the hiring manager through research.

In these cases, not using the hiring manager’s name can come across as lazy or imply that you don’t pay attention to details.

Small to mid-sized companies

Smaller organizations where teams are closely-knit and the hiring process is personal.

Using a generic salutation in more personal settings can imply a lack of genuine interest in the company and its people— not a great look.

Companies that emphasize personal connection

Organizations that value individuality and personal connection, which is often highlighted in their job postings or company culture pages.

A generic greeting may raise red flags with these companies, who often look for candidates who live out their values of personalization and individuality.

To sum up: if you’re not 100% sure that you can use “To Whom It May Concern,” don’t use it.

The best alternatives for “to whom it may concern”

Even if you need to use a generic phrase, there are way better options for the beginning of your cover letter than “to whom it may concern” in most cases.

Your choice depends on the information you have about the job posting and how comfortable you are with using informal/personal language. Here are some alternatives worth considering:

“Dear Hiring Manager”

This is one of the best ways to address the reader of a cover letter when you don’t know the recipient’s name. It’s professional, maintains respect for their role, respects their privacy, and is widely accepted.

“Dear [Job Title]”

If you're applying for a specific role but don't have a name, addressing the cover letter to the job title (or the job title’s supervisor) can work.

While "Dear Hiring Manager" is a more widely accepted way to start, "Dear [Job Title]" is specific and directly addresses the role you’re applying for.

You can use this alternative when you're aware of the job title for which you're applying and the company’s org chart. For instance, "Dear Marketing Manager" when applying for a marketing position.

“Hello [Department Name]”

This one is a good choice when you know the department you're applying to but not the individual. It demonstrates that you've done some research to identify the relevant department.

Use this when you know the specific department you’re applying to but don’t know the name of the hiring manager. For example, "Hello Marketing Department" when applying for a marketing role.

“Dear [Company Name] [Department Name] Team”

When you want to address a group of people, such as the entire HR team or a department, this option works well. It shows that you recognize the collaborative nature of the workplace and hiring process.

Choose this when you believe your cover letter may be reviewed by a team or multiple individuals within the organization. For example, "Dear ABC Company HR Team."

“Greetings”

This is a versatile and friendly alternative that maintains a polite tone (while avoiding assumptions).

Use "Greetings" when you have very limited information about the hiring manager or when you want to maintain a neutral and respectful tone.

“Hello Hiring Team”

If the company you’re applying for has a very casual company culture, and you know that a team will be reviewing applications, you can acknowledge their collective effort with this casual and friendly greeting.

Make sure that the company truly supports a casual approach. In some industries (like finance or law) or more formal companies, this is too informal and may be seen as disrespectful.

Strategies for finding the hiring manager's name

For many cover letters, your best bet is to find the name of the person who will actually be reviewing your application. You can often find the hiring manager’s name by following these steps:

Start with the job posting

Review the job posting or advertisement carefully. Sometimes, the name or contact information of the hiring manager is provided. Look for any details that indicate who you should address your application to.

Check the company website

Visit the company's official website and navigate to the "About Us" or "Contact Us" section. Look for executive profiles, department heads, or a directory that may list the hiring manager's name.

Social media

Check the company's social media profiles, especially LinkedIn and Twitter, for any mentions or posts by the hiring manager. They may share updates or insights that can help you identify them. On LinkedIn, search for the company's page and explore employee profiles to identify the hiring manager or relevant department head. Sometimes, LinkedIn profiles include details about their roles.

(Pro tip: before you reach out on LinkedIn, make sure you run your profile through LinkedIn Review so you’re ready to impress your potential future boss!)

Company directory

Some organizations maintain an online company directory with contact information for employees. Search for this directory on the company's website and see if you can find the hiring manager's name and title.

Contact the HR department

If all else fails, you can call or email the company's HR department and politely inquire about the name of the hiring manager or the appropriate contact person for the job application.

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Perfect Cover Letter Salutations: Start Strong

11 min read · Updated on April 24, 2024

Jen David

Greet your future employer professionally with these cover letter salutations

Cover letters – some recruiters love them; some recruiters hate them. Unfortunately, you'll rarely know which type of recruiter you're contacting, so the safest bet is always to send one, just in case. 

The aim of a cover letter is to make the reader want to find out more about you, so in this article, we're looking at starting strong. 

Which are the best cover letter salutations to make a great first impression?

What is a cover letter salutation?

When we say “salutation,” we mean the opening line of the letter where you greet the person you're writing to. For example, when you write to thank your aunt for the jumper she knitted for Christmas, you might use “Dear Aunt Betty” as your salutation. These days, the salutation may refer to the opening of an email as much as to the opening of a handwritten or printed letter. 

While cover letter salutations generally refer to the opening line of your epistle, some people also refer to the sign-off as a salutation as well, so we'll look at that at the end of the article. 

Considerations when choosing cover letter salutations

A cover letter is a formal business document that you use to try to make yourself more memorable. Remember, though, you want to be remembered for the right reasons and not the wrong ones! 

Starting your letter “Yo!” or “Hey” doesn't convey the impression of a competent professional who knows the unspoken rules of office writing etiquette. 

While not everyone is a natural writer, relying instead on personality, speech, and body language, cover letters depend very much on the written word. In fact, a cover letter, along with your resume, is part of your personal sales brochure. You need to choose the right words to sell yourself effectively. 

Stick to these guidelines, and you can't go far wrong.

Keep it formal and professional

Your tone should be aligned with the tone you'd use when speaking to a teacher, religious leader, or grandma, not the tone you'd use with your mates or kid brother. This is the first impression you'll make on your potential employer, so it's important to show that you can communicate professionally , with respect, and in line with workplace norms. 

Personalize wherever possible

Bonus points if you know, or can find out, the name of the person who will be reading the letter. If you can address them by name, you're instantly showing that you've made the effort, done your research, and have taken the time to write a personalized letter rather than firing the same one off to multiple vacancies. 

Always use a salutation

Even if you can't find out the recipient's name, never leave the greeting line blank. It conveys the impression of someone who lacks attention to detail or is just plain lazy. Not a great impression to create on someone you need to impress! 

This doesn't just apply to the cover letter salutation but to the entire document. Punctuation is important as it enables your reader to accurately interpret your meaning. Use capital letters for names and add a comma after the salutation. Get a trusted friend or family member to check over your letter when it's written to help you give it the polish it needs. 

Options for cover letter salutations

Let's take a look at some different salutations you could use on your cover letter. 

Dear Mr Donnelly 

Addressing the hiring manager by name is the ideal option. If it's not given in the job posting or provided by the person connecting you, it's fine to resort to good old Google. You may find their name on the company website or be able to track them down on LinkedIn. It's also perfectly acceptable to contact the company directly and ask them who you should address your application to.

If you're lucky enough to know the name of the hiring manager, you should always use it in the cover letter salutation. Bear these considerations in mind, though: 

Double and triple check the spelling – even the most common names sometimes have unconventional spellings 

Default to “Mr,” “Mrs,” or “Miss” plus their surname and use the generic “Ms” if you're not sure whether “Mrs” or “Miss” would be most appropriate

Reflect the gender-neutral title “Mx” if that's what you find online or on the job advert

Dear Doctor Foster

If the recipient has a professional title, it's recommended you use that instead of “Mr,” “Mrs,” or “Miss.” Examples could include “Dear Professor Dumbledore,” “Dear General Eisenhower,” or “Dear Doctor House.” 

While the formal “Dear Ms Farrell” is the preferred and most formal option, if you only have the hiring manager's first name, it's perfectly acceptable to use it to open the letter. Again, check the spelling. A slightly less formal salutation here isn't a reason to take a less formal tone throughout the rest of the letter, however. This is a suitable salutation for a job application email, as you can get away with a slightly more relaxed approach in an email.

Dear HR team

If you need a greeting for a cover letter to an unknown recipient, this is a popular option. It's not ideal, but your letter is likely to be forwarded to the right department at least. If you can't find the name of the hiring manager, this is a viable Plan B. 

Dear hiring manager

This is an alternative cover letter greeting when you have no name available. It's better than leaving a blank space, but it's far from warm and personal. Additionally, your letter may not find its way to the right person if the company has different teams hiring for different roles. Try to avoid this unless you've run out of other options.

Dear Sir / Madam

This cover letter salutation is falling out of favor. It's not just impersonal; it doesn't even address a specific team or department. Still, it's better than an overly casual greeting or a blank space. 

How NOT to address a cover letter

As we've already said, there are some greetings that are just too informal to use as cover letter salutations. There are others, however, that tread a very fine line. We'd advise avoiding these openings, as they're either too colloquial or too stuffy. 

To whom it may concern

We're not in the 19th century anymore. Trim your whiskers and relegate this stuffy greeting to history, it's too impersonal even for the most uptight offices. 

Using “dear” on its own, with no name or further greeting attached, gives the wrong vibe. It sounds like a combination of your old aunt, someone unfamiliar with the English language, and someone who's forgotten to fill in a blank on their template. Literally, anything is better than nothing after the word “dear.”

Hi, hello, hi there!

While these cover letter salutations certainly aren't stuffy or over-formal, they fall too far in the other direction. They're friendly and casual but too much for an initial introduction. Save these for the interview. 

Expert tip: Read this article to find out more about cover letter mistakes to avoid: 10 of the Worst Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid  

Cover letter closing salutations

How you end is just as important as how you begin. After all, you want to end on a high! Before you come to an abrupt end, you'll want to do both of these things: 

Thank the reader for their time and consideration 

Add a call to action, for example, directing them to look at your resume or give you a call

Cover letter salutations to close 

You've started strong and used the body of the email to convince the hiring manager that you're the ideal candidate for the role. Now, it's time to choose your sign-off. 

Yours sincerely, yours truly

These two phrases should be your go-to sign-offs for a formal business letter. If you've started your letter with the recipient's name, choose sincerely; otherwise, choose truly. 

Best regards, kind regards, regards

These are all acceptable closing phrases but better suited to an email than a full letter. They veer towards the casual and aren't generally considered the best letter-writing etiquette. 

Respectfully

This is a polite way of signing off a letter, although not especially conventional or formal. While it's better than no closing at all, it would be wiser to choose a more formal option. 

How NOT to sign off a cover letter 

Just as there are ways not to start a cover letter, there are ways not to sign off. 

Well, it's polite but way too informal. “Thank you” would be better, but a line within the body of the letter saying that you appreciate the time they take to consider your application would be best. 

Just no. You're not taking leave of a friend you've just dropped in on; you're addressing your potential future employer. A more formal and respectful tone is needed. 

However you choose to end your cover letter, remember to finish with your name – and leave space above to sign it if you intend to print it out.

Cover letter examples

Below you'll find two cover letter examples with strong salutations, one a traditional letter and one an email, that you can use for inspiration. 

Traditional cover letter example

Dear Ms Searle, 

Re: Sales Manager vacancy 

Having seen your advertisement for a Sales Manager on LinkedIn, I would like to outline my professional experience and strong track record. I believe I can make a very significant contribution to Acme Corp.

In addition to extensive experience in a sales environment, I also have a commitment to delivering exceptional customer service and a proven ability to meet targets. As you will see from my enclosed resume, I am a natural people person, communicating effectively with a diverse range of people and demonstrating excellent negotiation and influencing skills. My leadership abilities mean that I am able to successfully engage and motivate teams – my current team has surpassed its Q1 targets by 23%. 

I am driven, ambitious, and keen to progress my career in a growing and innovative business such as Acme Corp. I am confident that my strong work ethic, combined with my sales results and integrity, will enable me to play a key role in your success. 

Please do not hesitate to call me at 555-555-5555 so we can arrange an interview to discuss my application in greater depth. I appreciate your consideration. 

Yours sincerely,

Email cover letter example 

Dear Liz, 

Re: Assistant Security Manager vacancy (ref: 12345)

Having read your advertisement for an Assistant Security Manager with interest, I am writing to outline my extensive professional experience. I believe that I possess the talents necessary to make a positive contribution to your hotel.    

I have a comprehensive understanding of security and a commitment to exceptional service. As a Police Officer, I led teams of up to 6 personnel, overseeing security patrols and managing performance. Colleagues would recommend me for my ability to build and motivate teams to achieve exceptionally high standards and positive outcomes. 

As a manager, I take pride in providing training and development opportunities across the team to improve individual skill levels and ensure the achievement of organizational objectives.

The position at Acme Hotel is particularly appealing to me as I believe it will make the best possible use of my security and leadership skills whilst providing opportunities for further development. 

Please do not hesitate to call me at 555-555-5555 so we can arrange an interview to discuss my application in greater depth. I appreciate your consideration of my application and look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards, 

Choose the right cover letter salutations to set the right tone

As you can see, there are several options for opening and closing a cover letter. Make sure you choose one that is professional, has the right amount of formality, and shows you understand corporate communication. 

At TopResume, we create impactful resumes that land jobs. If you need help with your cover letter, we can do that, too! Why not contact us for a strong start on your journey towards a new career? 

Recommended reading: 

Resume vs Cover Letter: How They're Different

What is the perfect cover letter length?

How to Tailor Your Cover Letter for Each Job Application

Related Articles:

How to Maximize Your Resume Action Words to Wow the Employer

Resume Spelling and Accent Explained

Guide to Writing a Great Resume with No Work Experience

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To Whom It May Concern: Definition, Synonyms, and Examples

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Hannah Yang

to whom it maya concern

Whenever you write a professional letter or email, it’s important to start with the right salutation.

One common professional greeting is the phrase “To Whom It May Concern.” So what exactly does this phrase mean, and when is it appropriate to use it?

This article explains the meaning of “To Whom It May Concern,” offers some alternatives to consider, and gives you examples of this phrase in action.

To Whom It May Concern Definition

To whom it may concern meaning, how to format “to whom it may concern”, is it who, whom, or whomever it may concern, to whom it may concern alternatives, when to write “to whom it may concern”, to whom it may concern examples, conclusion on to whom it may concern.

“To Whom It May Concern” is a greeting used at the beginning of a letter or email when the identity of the reader is unknown. It functions as a generic salutation that can be addressed to anybody reading the letter.

You can use “To Whom It May Concern” whenever you’re writing a letter and you don’t know who the recipient will be.

For example, you might use this greeting when you’re writing a cover letter for a job application and you don’t know the name of the person who will be reviewing your letter. It’s safer to write “To Whom It May Concern” than to address your letter to the wrong person.

Before the advent of the digital age, “To Whom It May Concern” was a common greeting in professional correspondence. It was a lot harder to look up the names of specific people at companies and organizations without access to the internet.

These days, however, it’s a lot easier to look up the name of the person you’re writing to, whether it’s a hiring manager, a prospective client, or the head of a department or committee. As a result, “To Whom It May Concern” has started to feel like a stuffy and old-fashioned phrase.

As a good rule of thumb, you should avoid writing “To Whom It May Concern” whenever you can use a more modern alternative.

It’s standard practice to capitalize the first letter of each word in the phrase “To Whom It May Concern.”

You should follow the phrase with a colon, rather than a comma.

The salutation of a letter should always have an entire line to itself. Then skip the next line and start the first paragraph of your letter on the line after that.

formatting to whom it may concern

The correct phrase should always be “To Whom It May Concern,” not “To Who It May Concern” or “To Whomever It May Concern,” which are both grammatically incorrect.

To Who It May Concern

Who and whom are both pronouns, but they’re used in different ways. Who refers to the subject of a sentence, while whom refers to the object of a sentence.

In this case, consider the question: “ Whom might this letter concern?” The subject of this question is the letter, while the object of this sentence is the person the letter concerns.

Because “To Whom It May Concern” refers to the object of the sentence (the reader), not the subject of the sentence (the letter), it is grammatically incorrect to use who instead of whom .

To Whomever It May Concern

Whomever and whom are both object pronouns, so they could both be acceptable in the sentence “ Whom might this letter concern?”

However, “To Whom It May Concern” is a standard phrase that people are used to seeing, so using a new variation will look strange and unprofessional. As a result, it’s considered incorrect to use “To Whomever It May Concern.”

If you don’t like the idea of using “To Whom It May Concern” at the beginning of your letters, you’re not alone. In many contexts, this phrase can feel overly formal or even outdated, so it’s becoming increasingly common to use synonyms instead.

Here are four common alternatives you can use instead.

1. “Dear/Hello/Hi [Name of Person You’re Addressing]”

It’s always better to address a letter to a specific person than to leave the greeting generic. Avoid the mistake of using “To Whom It May Concern” when you should already know whom your letter will concern.

Personalizing your letter for a single contact person proves you did your research and looked up who you’re writing to. It also shows that you respect the recipient of your letter enough to acknowledge them.

If you’re writing a cover letter, for example, you can comb through the job description to see who the role reports to. Many job descriptions include the name of either the hiring manager or the person who will be your future boss.

You can also check the company’s website to find the right name to use. Professional networking websites like LinkedIn can also provide you with the right name.

When all else fails, you can contact one of the company’s customer service representatives to ask if they’ll disclose the name of the hiring manager. Going the extra mile to personalize your letter will help you make a positive first impression right off the bat.

2. “Dear/Hello/Hi [Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr./Professor] [Last Name]”

If you’re writing informally, it might be fine to address someone simply by their first name. If it’s a more formal letter, however, it might be safer to use that person’s title, followed by their last name.

However, this option can be risky. It’s important to be careful not to use the wrong title for the person you’re writing to.

You want to avoid calling someone “Mr.” or “Mrs.” if they prefer to go by “Dr.” You should also be careful to avoid misgendering the person you’re addressing, so try to avoid using gendered language without double-checking their preferences.

3. “Dear/Hello/Hi [Role of Person You’re Addressing]”

If you can’t find a name to address your letter to, you can use a job title or role instead.

For example, many job applicants start their cover letters with the phrase “Dear Recruiter,” “Dear Search Committee,“ “Dear Recruiting Department,“ “Dear Recruiting Manager,“ “Dear Hiring Manager,” or “Dear Hiring Team.”

If you’re writing to a customer service team, you can use “Dear Customer Service Manager“ or another equivalent.

If you’re writing to a team or a large group of people, you can use a simple “Hi team,” “Dear [name of the team],” “Hi all,” or “Hi everyone.”

If you’re writing to your network of contacts, you can even use “Dear Friends” or “Dear Friends and Family.“

4. “Hello/Hi There/Greetings”

In the twenty-first century, it’s becoming increasingly common to go with a simple salutation like “Hello,” “Hi there,” or “Greetings.” These are all friendlier, more casual ways to begin a letter or email.

This informal greeting will make your letter feel more personalized and modern than using “To Whom It May Concern.”

to whom it may concern alternatives

Here are four common situations where it’s appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern.”

1. Cover Letter

Many job applications require you to write a cover letter explaining why you’re a good fit for the role.

Often, there are many people who read a cover letter: a recruiter, a hiring manager, the person the role reports to, and more. If you don’t know who exactly will be reviewing your cover letter, it’s standard to open your letter with “To Whom It May Concern” as a greeting to all potential readers.

As we mentioned earlier, you should always try to research the name of the person who will be reading your cover letter and address them by name if possible. “To Whom It May Concern” should be your last resort.

2. Recommendation Letter and 3. Referral Letter

If you work in an academic environment, a student might ask you to write them a recommendation letter for a job or school application.

In corporate settings, a colleague might ask you for a recommendation or referral to a different job opportunity.

Both of these situations might require you to address a letter to someone you don’t know, and it’s often hard to find the name or title of the person who will be reading your letter. In this scenario, it’s perfectly acceptable to use “To Whom It May Concern” instead of a more personal greeting.

4. Letter to a Prospective Client

If you’re in a client-facing role, you might have to contact potential clients to see if they are interested in your products or services.

When you’re reaching someone who makes decisions for an entire company, team, or organization, you might not know the name of the individual in charge until after they reply to your letter.

It’s reasonable to use “To Whom It May Concern” when writing to prospective clients whose names you don’t know. However, you should also consider using a more modern greeting, such as a simple “Hello.”

when to use to whom it may concern

Let’s look at some examples of how to use “To Whom It May Concern” in action.

Example 1: Cover Letter

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to express my interest in the summer internship program at [Company Name].

I learned about your company through the student career center at my school and through speaking to other students who have interned with your company. I am passionate about the work you do, and I believe that I could be a great fit for your team.

Example 2: Academic Recommendation Letter

It is with much enthusiasm that I recommend [Student’s Name] for admission at your institution.

I have been [Student’s Name]’s English instructor for the past two years. She has been a wonderful participant in my classes, and she has demonstrated exceptional writing skills.

Example 3: Job Referral Letter

I am writing to recommend [Colleague’s Name] to your company. I have worked with him for the past seven years at [Current Company], where I was his manager. He is a dependable and hardworking colleague who would be an asset to any team.

Example 4: Prospecting Letter

I’m a big fan of your organization’s work, and I was wondering if you might be in the need of [Professional Services]. I’m a freelance [Job Title], and I’m writing to introduce myself and to tell you about the services my company offers. I would love the opportunity to work with you.

A letter or email is often your first impression. Make the right impression by running your emails through a grammar checker like ProWritingAid .

cover letter whom it may concern

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who writes about all things strange and surreal. Her work has appeared in Analog Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and elsewhere, and two of her stories have been finalists for the Locus Award. Her favorite hobbies include watercolor painting, playing guitar, and rock climbing. You can follow her work on hannahyang.com, or subscribe to her newsletter for publication updates.

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How to Use To Whom It May Concern (Alternatives Included)

Mike Simpson 0 Comments

cover letter whom it may concern

By Mike Simpson

Every letter needs a solid salutation. Why? Because it helps the reader figure out who you’re talking to. But what if you don’t know the name of the person you’re addressing? That’s where “to whom it may concern” comes in.

“To whom it may concern” is a generic salutation that can apply to nearly anyone, making it the default approach if you don’t have a contact’s name. But is it a good idea to use “to whom it may concern” in a cover letter ? Well, that depends.

If you’re curious about using “to whom it may concern” in a letter, here’s what you need to know.

Starting a Letter

Before we dig into the nitty-gritty of using “to whom it may concern,” let’s pause for a quick second and talk about starting a letter in general. As a job seeker, there’s at least one kind of letter you’re going to be writing regularly: the cover letter.

Do you actually need a cover letter? Yes, yes, you do. While most hiring managers assert that customizing your resume is the most important thing you can do, nearly half also want to see a cover letter. That’s a big percentage.

Plus, 83 percent of recruiters say that a great cover letter can land you an interview even if your resume isn’t a spot-on match. Holy cow, right? That alone should put cover letters on your must-do list.

Whenever you write any kind of letter, you want to start strong. After all, you need to convince the reader to actually finish the entire thing. If you don’t capture their attention quickly, that may not happen.

In most cases – after you fill in some contact information at the top – the first thing you need in your letter is a salutation. Why? Because it’s polite and directly acknowledges the reader.

Without a greeting, you’re letter just hops into whatever you want to talk about. If you’re writing a cover letter, that means you’d diving into a one-sided discussion about yourself.

The salutation recognizes that there is a person there “listening” to what you’re sharing. It’s a light form of appreciation. Yes, it’s a small gesture, but it’s an important one.

To Whom It May Concern

Alright, let’s take a second to talk about the use of “to whom it may concern” as a letter opening through time. While its exact origin isn’t entirely clear, the phrase does have a long history.

One of the most noteworthy examples is from a document written by President Abraham Lincoln. In a July 18, 1864 letter , he began with “to whom it may concern.” So, the phrase is at least that old.

Generally, the salutation serves as a generic opener when you either aren’t speaking to a particular individual (as a person might do with an open letter to the public) or when you don’t know who the reader is. It’s a polite and incredibly formal way to address an unknown individual. “Dear whoever” just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

Now, if good old Abe Lincoln used it, does that mean you should too? Well, in most cases, no, you shouldn’t. Really, it should be treated as a greeting of last resort, especially for cover letters. If you have any other reasonable alternative that feels even the slightest bit more personal, that’s probably the better choice.

Plus, it feels really old-school. It doesn’t seem like it fits in modern society. The same goes for “Dear sir or madam,” which equal parts generic and out of place.

Now, does that mean you can’t ever use “to whom it may concern” in your cover letter? No, it doesn’t. Instead, it should simply be the last option you explore after everything else falls through.

So, what should you use instead? Well, we’ll get to that in a minute.

It is important to note that there may be a few exceptions. If you’re writing a letter of recommendation that may be used in more than one way – such as for a job search and for college admissions – then “to whom it may concern” might be a better bet. That keeps the reader audience broad, allowing the letter to serve more than one purpose.

But cover letters only have a single reason for existing. As a result, it’s best to get more specific with your greeting.

Proper Usage of To Whom It May Concern

Alright, let’s say that, for whatever reason, “to whom it may concern” is all you’ve got. If that’s the case, then you need to make sure you use it the proper way.

There’s a pretty good chance that one question has been dancing through your mind: Do you capitalize to whom it may concern?

In most cases, when you’re starting a cover letter, you do want to capitalize the greeting. So, that would mean that the to whom it may concern capitalization should look like this:

Additionally, you’ll usually follow it with a colon instead of a comma. It’s the formal approach, which is the perfect choice in these circumstances. So, that gives you:

To Whom It May Concern:

Just remember that you should only use this approach to opening a cover letter if you really can’t figure out anything better. But if you’re really stuck with it, you now know how to use it right.

What about “to whom this may concern?” How do you use that? Typically, you don’t. “To whom this may concern” isn’t the traditionally accepted approach. If you use that, the hiring manager might just assume that you have no idea how to start a cover letter, and that’s no good.

Alternatives to To Whom It May Concern

Okay, we’ve said it a few times now, and it bears repeating once more; don’t use to whom it may concern in your cover letter unless that’s all you have available. But what should you use instead? Glad you asked.

First, you’re always better off using the hiring manager’s name if you can find it. This makes your cover letter feel more personal. So, whenever possible, go with “Dear [Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr.] [First Name] [Last Name].” It really is the best choice.

What about “Mx. [First Name] [Last Name]?” Is that okay to use?

“Mx.” is a gender-neutral way of addressing a person, and it’s increasingly popular with people who consider themselves nonbinary. However, it’s best to only use this if you are 100 percent sure it’s the hiring manager’s preferred title.

Why? Because “Mx.” is still a bit rare in the business world. People who aren’t familiar with it may think that it’s a typo, and that won’t reflect well on you. Plus, there’s also a bit of controversy surrounding its use and, if the hiring manager has strong feelings about it, that could hurt your chances of getting the job.

So, unless you know that the hiring manager prefers “Mx.” it is better to go with something else. If the contact has a gender-neutral name and you can’t find out anything else about them, skip the title and use “Dear [First Name] [Last Name]” instead.

But what if you don’t have the name of a contact? Then, it’s time for a different approach.

You can try “Dear [Job Title/Role]” as an alternative. For example, “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear IT Department Manager” could work. It’s at least a bit more personal, as it’s clearly speaking to a particular individual.

Next, you could go with “Dear [Department].” Again, this is a bit less ideal, as it’s opening it up to a group instead of a specific person. Still, “Dear Marketing Department” is still better than “to whom it may concern” for a letter salutation.

If the workplace is more casual, you may even be swing “Greetings” as the entire salutation. It’s less formal and a bit warmer. However, it might not sit well with every hiring manager, so you may only want to use this one if you know the company is pretty darn relaxed.

Tips for Finding a Contact Person

By now, you know that using the contact’s name is the absolute best approach when you’re writing a cover letter. If you want to find it, start by reviewing the job ad.

In some cases, the contact person’s information is right there in black and white. In others, you may be able to figure it out based on other contact details. For example, if you’re told to send your resume to an email address, and that email is clearly based on a person’s name, you may have all you need to know. A lot of companies use employee first and last names to create their email addresses, so this may be all you need.

Other companies use certain details from a person’s name, like first initials and full last names, or partial first and last names. At times, this enough information for you to figure the rest out. You can use resources like the company website or LinkedIn to find a match based on what you do know.

But if any clues about the person’s name aren’t in the job ad, how do you find it?

In this case, a great place to begin is the company website. If you can find staff bios or an overview of the company’s organizational structure, you may be able to suss out who is overseeing the role. This is especially true if the job ad includes the job title of who you would be reporting to, as there may be only one employee with that title in a suitable department.

If that doesn’t work, head on over to LinkedIn. You can head to the company’s page to look for a staff list or may be able to figure out who your contact would be by doing a search.

Contacting members of your network may also be a good idea. If you know someone who works at the company today, they may be able to clue you in by providing you the hiring manager’s name.

Finally, you could try to reach out to the company and simply ask them. Let them know that you are preparing to apply for a job and want to know who you need to address your cover letter to. Now, they may decline to give you that information, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

If none of those approaches work, then it’s time to use one of the “to whom it may concern” alternatives we listed above. If you at least know the job title or department, that could be enough. Plus, you can always go with the classic “Dear Hiring Manager,” as that will usually strike the right chord.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, there is a time and place for “to whom it may concern” in a letter, just not usually in a cover letter. Try all of the alternatives above before you default to a generic greeting. That way, you’re cover letter is more likely to make a great impression, increasing the odds that you’ll get called in for an interview.

cover letter whom it may concern

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com.

His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others.

Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

About The Author

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Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

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To Whom It May Concern: How To Use It With Examples

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To Whom It May Concern has become a controversial phrase. Some people think it’s lazy to use this greeting since the recipient’s name is usually somewhere on the internet, while others say that you can’t always know who the recipient will be, so “To Whom It May Concern” is the best choice.

In this article, we’ll cover when and how to use “To Whom It May Concern,” as well as alternatives and examples to help you pull all our tips together.

Key Takeaways:

“To Whom It May Concern” is appropriate to use:

When lodging a formal complaint

A letter of recommendation

A letter of introduction

You should not use this phrase when writing a cover letter or a letter on your own behalf.

To find the recipient’s name you should check the job listing, check the company’s website, and use networking websites before using the phrase.

How To Write

When to use “to whom it may concern”

Example use of the phrase, when not to use “to whom it may concern”, how to find the recipient’s name, alternative ways to say “to whom it may concern”, example of alternatives ways to say “to whom it may concern”, what does “to whom it may concern” mean, to whom it may concern faq, final thoughts.

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Here are some examples of when it is appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern:”

To lodge a formal complaint. When you aren’t satisfied with a situation, voicing a concern in a formal letter is an excellent way for you to do it. However, you might not know who you will need to address.

A letter of recommendation. Sometimes, a friend or coworker might need to list someone who knows them well as a reference , but they might be unsure who you will need to write the letter to.

A letter of introduction . In times where you need to introduce yourself or another individual to a large group via email, “To Whom It May Concern” can be an option to address a general audience.

A letter of interest . When you’re trying to find out about potential job positions that aren’t publically listed, you can send a letter of interest to sell yourself. However, you may not have a specific recipient in mind. Using “To Whom It May Concern” can be useful in these situations, but we still recommend using one of its alternatives instead.

A prospecting letter. People who work in sales and business development need to reach out to potential clients. Some companies are wary about giving away too many personal details to an outside salesperson.

In those cases, using a generic salutation like “To Whom It May Concern” may be appropriate — but it’s not exactly the most appealing first line of a sales pitch.

When using “To Whom It May Concern,” capitalize every word in the phrase. Then, follow it with a colon and double-space before you begin typing the body of your text.

To Whom It May Concern: I am writing this letter to bring to your attention how unsatisfied I am with your company’s customer service. On the morning of October 1, 2020, I made a call to your company’s customer service line and was treated rather rudely. It is appalling to me that a company with your standing would allow such unprofessionalism to take place. I have been a faithful client of your store, and feel completely devastated by this behavior. I expect your full cooperation and hope this issue can be resolved. Sincerely, Jane Smith

The phrase “To Whom It May Concern” sounds impersonal, and you never want your letter to sound too impersonal, even if it is formal. If possible, avoid using this phrase at all costs.

“To Whom It May Concern” is considered to be dated and too generic. Hiring managers want to make sure that the person they are bringing in is driven and will stop at nothing to get the job done.

In short, here are the times when not to use “To Whom It May Concern:”

You’re writing a cover letter . The point of a cover letter is to set yourself apart from the competition. When you begin your letter with an archaic phrase like “To Whom It May Concern,” you do stand out — just for all the wrong reasons.

You’re writing any letter on your own behalf. When you’re writing a recommendation letter for a friend or a letter of introduction for someone else, it’s fine to use “To Whom It May Concern.” That’s because you don’t know how the letter will be used or who it will be sent to; those decisions are up to whoever you gave the letter to.

You have literally any information about the recipient. Using “To Whom It May Concern” is basically admitting that you have no idea who this letter will concern — and that’s concerning for the recipient. If you’re sending a letter to an unknown entity in some department, for example, at least label it to “Dear [Department Name].”

Remember that rather than writing, “To Whom It May Concern,” including the recipient’s name in your letter or email shows that you are willing to put in the leg work and get the job done.

Read the job listing carefully . Go back to the original job posting and see if there is more information about the person you need to contact. Typically, companies and career websites will include the contact information at the bottom of the page .

Check the company’s website. Another way to verify a company’s personnel is to go directly to the source. Go to their official website and look through the “About Us” page– chances are you will find what you are looking for.

Use networking websites. You can also use a professional networking website such as LinkedIn. These pages are filled with business professionals. Search for the company’s profile. Usually, you will be able to find the appropriate person with a bit of research.

Call the company. As a last resort, reach out to the company’s main line or customer service number and ask for the hiring manager’s name.

If you are still unable to find the name of your prospective employer after taking all of these steps, you may then use the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” or one of the much more appealing alternatives below.

The good news is you are not stuck using this expression. When you are trying to greet someone, there are countless alternatives that can be used instead of saying, “To Whom It May Concern.” The great thing about the English language is that it allows us different ways to say the same something.

Here is a list of alternatives you can use in place of “To Whom It May Concern:”

Dear [Name of Potential Boss] – use a full name or a Mr./Ms./Dr. [Last Name]

Dear Recruiting Team

Dear [Job Title You’re Applying For] Hiring Team/Committee/Manager

Dear Hiring Manager

Dear Recruiter

Dear Recruiting Manager

Dear Recruiting Department

Dear Human Resources Manager

Dear [Name of the Department You’re Applying To]

Dear Personnel Manager

Try to avoid using the phrase “ Dear Sir or Madam ,” just like “To Whom It May Concern.” This, too, is considered to be an outdated way of addressing a recipient.

If you cannot find the recipient’s name and do not want to risk sounding too generic, you can always call them by their official titles, such as a hiring manager, a recruiter , or a human resources manager .

Dear Product Department, I hope this finds you well. I am writing to find out more about your company and if you have any openings. I saw your booth at the job fair last week, and from what I have learned, it could be a great place to work. Thank you again for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Joe Smith
Dear Hiring Manager, My name is Jane Smith, and I recently applied for the Project Manager opening at your company. I wanted to take this time to formally introduce myself to you and your staff. And I am excited about this opportunity. I am sure that my background and skills will make me an ideal candidate for this position and your company. Would it be possible for us to set up an appointment to meet this week? I would love to get to know you and discuss what I plan to bring to your organization. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to speaking with you. Best Regards, Jane Smith

“To Whom It May Concern” is typically used as a salutation at the beginning of a letter or email. It is generally used to speak to someone whose name you do not know but would like to address in the message.

“To Whom It May Concern” is now considered outdated. Back in the day, when a company posted a job, all you had access to was the company’s name and a brief description of the position you were applying to at the company.

It was highly uncommon for companies to list the hiring manager’s name. There was no easy way for you to gain access to this information — therefore, people would address the letters to whomever the message concerned, hence the phrase.

Now, however, having information about any company is as simple as clicking a button. Most businesses or corporations have an entire section dedicated to their staff. Here you will be able to find the names you need.

Though using the phrase may be considered standard practice, some hiring managers might view it as laziness on behalf of the applicant. However, there are certain instances where it is considered entirely appropriate to use this phrase.

What is the correct way to write “To Whom It May Concern?”

The correct way to write “To Whom It May Concern” is to capitalize the first letter of each word. Be sure to always use “whom” instead of “who” or “whomever.”

It’s also more appropriate to follow the phrase with a colon rather than a comma and add two spaces before beginning your message. Using this phrase suggests a formal letter and should only be used when you’re sending something to an unknown recipient.

Is “To Whom It May Concern” rude?

No, “To Whom It May Concern” is not rude. It is the proper address to use when you’re uncertain who it is you’re addressing.

However, if you know the person you are addressing, using the phrase to whom it may concern is inappropriate and may be considered rude.

Should I use “To Whom It May Concern”?

Yes, if you don’t know the name of the individual you are addressing, you should use “To Whom It May Concern.” However, before choosing to use this phrase, you should consider looking for a point of contact to receive your cover letter and resume .

You can do this in any number of ways, including checking the job posting, using the company website, asking another contact, or contacting customer service or human resources .

Do you write “To Whom It May Concern” in capital letters?

Yes, you should write “To Whom It May Concern” in capital letters. Although this may seem out of the norm, you would want to capitalize the name of the person you are addressing.

Since to whom it may concern is used in place of a person’s name, you should capitalize the entire phrase in place of the individual’s name.

How do you address a letter to an unknown person?

If the letter is formal, you should address a letter to an unknown person with the phrase “To Whom It May Concern.” Typically, this phrase is used in business correspondences when the other party is unknown.

Most commonly, this can be used when submitting a job application or cover letter when the job posting is unclear on who will review your application.

It might take you some time, but if you set your mind to it and put a little effort, chances are you will find the names you are looking for. However, it is essential to know that you really cannot go wrong with any of these alternatives.

Keep in mind that this isn’t about adding more pressure to your pursuit of finding a job. It’s about opening your eyes and showing you that every little detail is essential and speaks volumes to any future employer about the person they will be hiring.

Readers Digest – To Whom It May Concern: What it Means and How to Use it

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Melissa is an exceptionally hard-working, creative individual, with great organizational and time management skills. She has been writing and researching professionally for over seven years. She graduated with a BA in English from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

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Cover Letters 101: Should You Address Your Letter ‘To Whom It May Concern’?

W hen applying for jobs, the way you start your cover letter sets the tone for a good first impression. Many applicants wonder if they should stick with the old “To Whom It May Concern.” This phrase has been around for ages, but times have changed, and so have the expectations in the job market. Here’s why “To Whom It May Concern” might not be the best idea anymore and offers some smart alternatives to help your application catch an employer’s eye.

See Also: 6 Genius Things All Wealthy People Do With Their Money

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Key Takeaways

  • “To Whom It May Concern” might be considered outdated and overly impersonal in today’s job market.
  • Personalizing your cover letter by addressing it to a specific person shows initiative and attention to detail.
  • There are several strategies to find the appropriate contact person if the job listing doesn’t provide a name.
  • Alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern” can help make a positive impression on your potential employer.
  • Tailoring your approach can enhance your career prospects and contribute to long-term wealth by increasing your chances of securing well-suited positions.

How To Make a Good Impression Beyond ‘To Whom It May Concern’

The job application process is your opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism, attention to detail and communication skills. Starting off on the right foot can have a positive impact on your career trajectory and, by extension, your long-term financial success. Here are some tips and alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern” that can help you make a lasting impression:

1. Do Your Homework

Before addressing your cover letter, take the time to research the company and find out who the hiring manager or the head of the department is. LinkedIn and the company’s website are excellent resources for this. Addressing the letter directly to this person shows that you’ve made an effort to understand the company and its team.

2. Use a Specific Job Title

If you cannot find a specific name, addressing the letter to a job title or department can still personalize your approach. For example, “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Human Resources Department” are preferable to the impersonal “To Whom It May Concern.”

3. Opt for a Warm Greeting

In cases where a direct name or title isn’t available, consider starting with a warm, yet professional greeting. “Dear Team at [Company Name]” can convey both respect and a personal touch.

4. When in Doubt, Ask

If the job listing provides a contact number or email for queries, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for the name of the hiring manager. This not only provides you with the correct name but also demonstrates your proactive nature.

Alternatives to ‘To Whom It May Concern’

If “To Whom It May Concern” isn’t cutting it, try these more personal options. They show you’re paying attention and you care:

  • “Dear Hiring Manager,”
  • “Dear [Department] Team,”
  • “Dear [Company Name] Team,”
  • “Greetings,”

Adding a personal touch right from the start can make your cover letter shine. After you’ve picked your opening, don’t forget to personalize the rest of your letter too.

When ‘To Whom It May Concern’ Is the Right Choice

There are few situations in job applications where “To Whom It May Concern” might still fit. This can happen when you’re applying to a large organization where the hiring team is not specified and you’ve exhausted all resources trying to find a certain contact.

It can also be relevant when submitting general inquiries to a company’s career department without applying for a specific role. In these cases, “To Whom It May Concern” can act as a formal and respectful way to address your cover letter, showing that you’ve made an effort to be professional in the absence of those details.

Make Small Changes To See Big Results

Taking the time to personalize your cover letter is more than a mere formality; it’s an investment in your career. By showing that you care about the details and are genuinely interested in the position, you’re more likely to capture the attention of potential employers. This not only increases your chances of landing an interview but also positions you as a strong candidate in a competitive job market.

Choosing a different opening for your cover letter is a simple change that can have big rewards. It can help you stand out and show you’re serious about the job. This can lead to interviews and, eventually, job offers. Landing a job that matches your skills and goals can really boost your happiness at work and your financial security. Choosing to skip “To Whom It May Concern” could be a small step toward a bigger, better career .

Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com : Cover Letters 101: Should You Address Your Letter ‘To Whom It May Concern’?

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When and How to Use "To Whom It May Concern"

cover letter whom it may concern

Options for Starting a Letter

When to use “to whom it may concern”, how to use “to whom it may concern”, alternative greetings to use, when to leave off the salutation, frequently asked questions (faqs).

Miguel Co / The Balance

“To Whom It May Concern” is a salutation traditionally used in business letters when the sender doesn’t know the name of the person who will receive the message. Although it’s somewhat old-fashioned, this greeting is still an option when you’re sending cover letters, job inquiries, or other business correspondence. 

That said, you should make every effort to find a contact name to use in your letter. You also have other options. Find out more about alternatives and when it's appropriate to start your letter with this greeting.

Key Takeaways

  • Before you use “To Whom It May Concern,” consider alternative letter greetings, such as "Greetings" or "Dear Hiring Manager."
  • Do your best to find a contact person; doing so will increase the likelihood that your letter or email will be read and acknowledged. 
  • The first letter in each word is capitalized, and the phrase is followed by a colon.

"To Whom It May Concern" is an impersonal and somewhat outdated letter greeting. It is still sometimes used, but nowadays, there are better options for starting a letter. 

One simple approach is to not include any salutation. In that case, simply begin your email or letter with the first paragraph or with “Re: Topic You’re Writing About” in the subject line, followed by the rest of the letter or message in the body.

When other options don't work for your correspondence, it's acceptable to start a letter with "To Whom It May Concern."

If you do choose to use “To Whom It May Concern” when you're applying for jobs, it shouldn't impact your application. A Resume Companion survey reports that 83% of hiring managers said seeing it would have little or no impact on their hiring decisions.

Here is when and how to use “To Whom It May Concern,” as well as examples of alternative salutations to use when writing letters.

Here is when and how to use “To Whom It May Concern,” along with examples of alternative salutations to use when writing letters.

Look for a Contact Person

Ideally, you will try to ascertain the name of the specific person to whom you are writing. For example, if you are writing a cover letter for a job application and do not know the contact person, do your best to find out the name of the employer or hiring manager.

If you’re writing a business letter, it will more likely be read if you address it to a specific person at the company. You’ll also have a person to follow up with if you don’t get a response from your first inquiry. Taking a few minutes to try to locate a contact is worth the time. 

Check the Job Listing

There are several ways to discover the name of the person you are contacting. If you are applying for a job, the name of the employer or hiring manager may be on the job listing. However, that is not always the case.

Many employers don’t list a contact person because they may not want direct inquiries from job seekers.

Check the Company Website

You can look on the company website for the name of the person in the position you are trying to contact. You can often find this in the “About Us,” “Staff,” or “Contact Us” sections. If you cannot find the name on the website, try to find the right person on LinkedIn, or ask a friend or colleague if he or she knows the person’s name.

Ask the Employer

Another option is to call the office and ask the administrative assistant for advice. For example, you might explain you are applying for a job and would like to know the name of the hiring manager.

Be sure to ask the administrative assistant to spell the hiring manager’s name. Then double-check the spelling on the company website or LinkedIn. 

If you take all of these steps and still do not know the name of the person you are contacting, you can use “To Whom It May Concern” or an alternative generic greeting.

When should you use the term? It should be used at the beginning of a letter, email, or other form of communication when you are unsure of who will be reading it.

This might happen at many points in your job search. For example, you might be sending a cover letter, letter of recommendation, or other job search materials to someone whose name you do not know.

It is also appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern” when you are sending an inquiry (also known as a prospecting letter or letter of interest ) but don’t have the details of a contact person.

Capitalization and Spacing

When addressing a letter with “To Whom It May Concern,” the first letter of each word is typically capitalized, and the phrase is followed by a colon:

To Whom It May Concern:

Skip the next line, and then start the first paragraph of the letter.

“To Whom It May Concern” is considered fairly outdated, especially when writing cover letters for jobs. “Dear Sir or Madam” is another salutation that was commonly used in the past, but it too may also come across as old-fashioned. It’s also non-inclusive.

There are better alternatives you can use for letter salutations when you are writing a letter and don’t have a named person to write to.

Here are some options:

  • Dear Hiring Committee
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Team
  • Dear HR Manager
  • Dear Human Resources Representative
  • Dear Human Resources Team
  • Dear [Department] Name
  • Dear [Department] Manager
  • Dear [Department] Team
  • Dear Personnel Manager
  • Dear Search Committee
  • Dear Recruiter
  • Dear Recruiting Manager
  • Dear Recruiting Team
  • Dear Talent Acquisition Team
  • Dear Customer Service Manager
  • Re: (Topic of Letter)

You can also write a greeting that is still general but focuses on the group of people you are reaching out to. For example, if you are contacting people in your network for help with your job search , you might use the greeting “Dear Friends and Family.”

Another option for starting your letter is to leave off the salutation entirely. If you decide not to include a greeting, begin with the first paragraph of your letter or email message.

What is the best format for business letters?

Business letters are typically written in block format, meaning that the type is left-justified, with single-spaced text and a double space between paragraphs. Leave a few spaces after the closing to make room for your signature. 

What are the sections of a business letter?

The sections of a business letter are the address of the sender, the date, the address of the recipient, a salutation, the body of the letter, a closing, and a signature. 

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15 “To Whom It May Concern” Letters With Examples

Years back, “To Whom It May Concern” was the traditional opening greeting in professional letters and other forms of business communication. Nowadays, you rarely see any begin with it.

The methods of communication we use today are more pointed than ever and relatively less formal. Modern communications are more conversational.

For example, if you want to send someone an email , you get their specific email address, and no one else will receive it apart from them.

With the internet, it’ll take little effort to find the recipient’s name so you can address them appropriately. “Dear John,” or “Dear Mary,” for instance.

In this post, let me share some of the best “To Whom It May Concern” sample template examples of how to use them correctly in your email or letter.

I will also discuss situations when to use them and when not to.

Also Read : Best Recommendation Letter Examples For Students

“To Whom It May Concern” Sample Letter Template Examples

1. scholarship letter of recommendation.

cover letter whom it may concern

This letter example accurately portrays the use of the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation.

It’s a formal letter of recommendation and highlights the subject in bold capital letters. Meanwhile, the salutation comes after in sentence case and a regular typeface.

From the first sentence, the letter introduces the person it’s recommending in bold letters.

The use of bold letters aims to capture the recipient’s attention. They could easily skip the opening and start reading the body from the onset.

Most importantly, the letter maintains formality and only talks about the person it’s recommending.

Also Read : Polite Follow-up Email Examples

2. Letter Of Support

cover letter whom it may concern

If, as a company or individual, you want to express support for some other company or individual, it wouldn’t be wrong to use a “To Whom It May Concern” letter.

As this example indicates, it’s most suitable when writing on behalf of a company or group.

First, it shows anonymity without portraying any individual as the sender.

Secondly, it shows that the support offer is the responsibility of every group member, with pronouns like “We” and “Our.”

Finally, the formatting is remarkable: it first introduces the intention and unambiguously outlines the support terms.

Check Out : Best Business Introduction Email Examples & Tips

3. Letter Of Confirmation

cover letter whom it may concern

A letter of confirmation is not very different from a letter of recommendation, which makes a “To Whom It May Concern” letter suitable.

This sample is a letter confirming that a student was a member of a particular program for a specific duration.

The “To Whom It May Concern” salutation is appropriate because anyone can receive the letter.

The student who the letter is recommending may not need the letter immediately but subsequently. It’s a type of certificate that they can keep forever and present on demand.

4. Letter Of Investigation

cover letter whom it may concern

This investigation letter follows a formal complaint and broadcast letter style. It’s not an employee making a complaint but a superior – a Captain in the Sheriff’s Department – requesting a company department to complete forms for a fraud check.

Such a delicate situation requires 100% formality, and it doesn’t get more formal than a “To Whom It May Concern” letter.

It expresses a lack of bias. Hence, no recipient will feel like they are a principal suspect in the fraud accusation. However, typical of broadcast letters, what’s most important is the content of the letter and not the salutation.

Explore : Simple Resignation Email Examples

5. Letter Of Invitation

cover letter whom it may concern

Just like making a formal complaint, you can also make a statement, confirming or taking responsibility for something.

This sample letter of invitation is a model example. It’s a “To Whom It May Concern” letter addressed to an embassy, confirming the responsibility of a family member who intends to visit.

When writing such a letter of invitation to an embassy, it’s not entirely wrong to open with “To Whom It May Concern” since you don’t know the recipient.

If you do, it’s still not wrong because even if the embassy approves or rejects your invitation, the letter will remain in the records.

6. Letter Of Authorization

cover letter whom it may concern

Here’s another sample letter template addressed to a government agency.

The letter authorizes an agent to undertake business matters with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

It opens with the letter title before the salutation. However, the subject draws the most attention.

The letter is brief, and, most importantly, it highlights the name and position of the person authorizing the agent.

Such a letter is valid for more than two years, which means the agent can use it multiple times. As a result, it’s suitable to not address the letter to a single person or office in particular.

Also Read : Best Counter Offer Letter Examples

7. Letter Of Notice

cover letter whom it may concern

This letter of notice serves as a recommendation letter and formal complaint.

It doesn’t recommend a person or group but recommends actions employers can take to foster relationships with their employees.

It can also work as a broadcast “To Whom It May Concern” letter. You can use this sample if you’re writing a notice letter to a company where you’re not an employee.

Since you don’t work for the company, the recipient won’t expect you to address them directly. Hence, it’s safe to open with “To Whom It May Concern.”

8. Letter Of Complaint

cover letter whom it may concern

This letter of complaint is from a customer to a company they patronize. However, it can also work if you’re an employee wanting to make an internal complaint.

Notably, it’s a pointed letter. Although there’s no bolded or capitalized subject, the first paragraph clearly states who the complainer is and the complaint.

The subsequent paragraphs explain the background behind the complaint.

No matter the complaint, it’s ideal not to sound overly dismissive. Hence, the closing paragraph expresses a sense of understanding and hope that the superior will handle the matter accordingly.

Also Read : What To Include In A Cover Letter For A Job ?

9. Broadcast Letter Sample

cover letter whom it may concern

You can use this sample when informing a group rather than an individual. The letter addresses an association of teachers to notify them of a large donation to support a joint project.

Although the name and contact details of the association are available, the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation is still appropriate, as anyone can read it.

For instance, the association may send copies of the letter to its different members. Alternatively, one member can read it to the hearing of everyone in a meeting.

Whichever method, the letter doesn’t address anyone in particular but the group as a whole.

10. Guardianship Letter

cover letter whom it may concern

A guardianship letter recommends prospective guardians who will look over a child or ward should anything happen to their current guardians.

As a result, the recommended guardian won’t use the letter immediately but sometime in the future.

Such a letter is also usually sent to a courthouse or a different legal body that handles guardian-related matters. With all of these, you can open with “To Whom It May Concern,” just like in this sample.

When it’s time to effect the letter, anybody in the office could read it. Hence, you don’t need a direct salutation.

Also Read : Best Memo Examples

11. Prospect Letter

cover letter whom it may concern

As mentioned earlier, writing prospect letters is one of the few instances when you can use the “To Whom It May Concern” format.

In this sample, a company is reaching out to other companies and requesting their support in a project.

The project details are of uttermost importance, and the sample letter explains every detail extensively.

From the onset, the aim of the letter is apparent. In addition, it doesn’t fail to state how the companies that decide to support will benefit.

Furthermore, the letter outlines specifically ideal amounts that the companies can donate. It has all the features of a converting “To Whom It May Concern” prospect letter.

12. Expectation Letter

cover letter whom it may concern

When sending out expectation letters to multiple participants, you can use a “To Whom It May Concern” letter. It’s a form of broadcasting.

The sample letter outlines the expectations of employers, students, and schools who elect to be part of a training program.

The letter opens with a “To Whom It May Concern” salutation and immediately thanks and congratulates the participants. As a result, recipients can still feel special as it shows the sender values them.

The first paragraph further explains the purpose and overall goal of the project for each participant.

Also Read : Best Resignation Email Subject Line Examples

13. Self-recommendation Letter Format

cover letter whom it may concern

Here’s a sample to use if you’re writing a self-recommendation letter.

The letter is short and brief, featuring only three main paragraphs after the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation.

The “To Whom It May Concern” salutation shows that the sender didn’t have any particular company in mind.

Instead, they can submit copies of the letter to different companies. The takeaway from this sample letter is the details.

It highlights the primary strengths of the person it’s recommending. It also highlights what they can contribute should the company hire them.

14. “To Whom It May Concern” Letter For Employee

cover letter whom it may concern

If you’re an employer and your employee requests a job verification letter, you can issue a “To Whom It May Concern” business letter. It could be inconvenient to ask them who the letter is for or why they need it.

Employees usually request job verification letters when they want to leave a company. However, they may not want to tell you who their new employer is.

With this business letter, it doesn’t matter who the letter is for or why they need it; they could submit it to anyone.

This sample is ideal for such job verification letters. It’s perfect if the employee holds multiple positions in the company.

Also Read : LinkedIn Recommendation Examples

15. Shipment Confirmation Letter

cover letter whom it may concern

This sample is a shipment confirmation letter confirming the contents of a particular shipment. Such letters aim to verify the authenticity of a specific person, product, service, or other. It’s similar to the previous job verification letter.

The letter could work as an official document since it’s in the form of an invoice. As a result, it’ll be wrong to address it to a particular person, using “Dear Madam/Sir” or similar.

When To Use “To Whom It May Concern”

Now that we have seen some great examples of “To Whom It May Concern” letters, we’ll be itching to use them. However, in the first place, it’s important to know when to use “To Whom It May Concern” and when not.

Here are a few instances when using “To Whom It May Concern” may be appropriate:

cover letter whom it may concern

Photo by alleksana via Pexels

Recommendation Letter

If your friend, colleague, or other acquaintance is applying for a new job or trying to get into college, they may ask you to write a recommendation on their behalf.

You don’t know who will receive and read the email or the letter. It could be the HR manager, the deputy, a CEO, or other department superiors if it’s a job.

For college, it could be the department chair, a head professor, or any member of the graduate admissions committee.

Likewise, whoever reads the email or the letter will be less concerned about how you open or your salutation. The recipient isn’t interested in you but the person you’re recommending.

As a result, it won’t be unfitting to begin your letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

Introductory Letters

In business, you get to introduce yourself often. Most times, it’s to people you’ve never met.

For example, an anonymous individual or company may contact you for a quote or any other profitable business prospect.

If you’re an interest-driven marketer or company, you wouldn’t want to overlook any opportunity to increase your clientele.

Hence, when you receive such anonymous prospects, you should reply, even if you don’t know much about who’s contacting you.

In such a situation, it’s safe to take a general approach like opening your email or letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

In your letter, you can request to know more about the individual or company so you can address them appropriately next time.

Prospecting Letters

Previously, you received an introductory letter from an anonymous individual or company. The situation is not very different if you were the one sending out a prospecting letter.

However, opening with “To Whom It May Concern” in email or prospect letters is only ideal when you don’t have specific recipients in mind.

Often, with automated marketing campaigns, you may send out prospect emails or letters to many random prospective clients.

Most recipients won’t mind that you open your email or your letter with “To Whom It May Concern” because you’re also anonymous to them.

If the content of your letter is encouraging, they’ll most likely respond.

However, if you can find out more about your prospective clients, it’s better to address them appropriately when sending prospects.

Formal Complaints

As an employee, you can come across different situations in your workplace that you find inconvenient.

The best thing to do is to make a formal complaint. Any superior in your company can read your complaint letter.

It could be the head of your department, customer service, some administrator, or even the CEO. It depends on the issues you’re addressing in your letter.

The most important thing for anyone that reads your letter is your complaints. Some readers may skip the opening entirely and go straight to the body of the letter.

Perhaps you’re the head of a department, and you want to make a complaint to your subordinates about something you don’t like. You can issue a general complaint letter and open it with “To Whom It May Concern.”

Broadcast Letters

A broadcast letter is always the go-to when contacting a large and complex audience.

Usually, these letters aim to inform the audience of something they may or may not find interesting. In other words, your recipient may take action or not.

As a result, broadcast letters typically contain in-depth information.

For example, you may be informing companies that you are open for employment or your clients that a product is no longer available.

Like the other instances previously mentioned, the details matter the most in your broadcast letter. How you open would be less notable.

When Not To Use “To Whom It May Concern”

There are instances when you should never use a “To Whom It May Concern”. These include:

cover letter whom it may concern

Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Cover Letters

When applying for a job, your cover letter could decide your chances. You don’t want to open your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

Using such a salutation could suggest that you’re nonchalant. Showing interest in the company is necessary when seeking a job.

Hence, you should endeavor to find out who receives your cover letter and address it correctly.

If you’re sending your cover letter via email – which is most likely – you can get a hint of who reads the letter from the email address.

Generally, opening with “Dear” is the industry standard. “Dear Sir/Madam,” is ok.

However, if you know who receives and reads your cover letter, you can open with formal greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiting Manager.”

Inquiry Letters

You write an inquiry letter to learn or get information about something.

For example, you may write to a company to inquire how much a service costs or to a customer to collect their delivery details.

In both instances, your opening needs to be specific because you don’t want the recipient to ignore your letter.

The recipients need to know that they alone can provide the answers to your inquiry. Opening with “To Whom It May Concern” shows that the letter could be for anyone and not them in particular.

Usually, people send inquiry letters to recipients they’re not acquainted with or are contacting for the first time.

Nevertheless, if you want a response, you should open with something better like a simple “Sir/Madam.”

Follow-up Letters

It’s ok to send your recommendation letter, introductory letter, prospect letter, or formal complaint with “To Whom It May Concern.”

However, if you get a reply and you’re to send a follow-up letter, you should drop the “To Whom It May Concern.”

You most likely included your name and contact details in your first letter. With this information, your recipient should address you adequately in their reply letter.

You can then use the specific person information and address them accordingly in return in your follow-up letter.

Even if they do not, sending a follow-up with a “To Whom It May Concern” greeting is unwelcoming. It could suggest to the recipient that you don’t want to communicate.

Report Letters

As an employee, you may need to send reports to your superiors from time to time.

It’s not only unprofessional to address your superiors using “To Whom It May Concern,” but it’s also disrespectful.

Reports in letter form are usually requested. Therefore, it shouldn’t take much effort to find out who receives the letter and address them accordingly.

When you address the recipient correctly, it indicates to them that you carefully prepared your report. It’ll be easier for them to trust what you’re reporting.

You could be sending out report letters to multiple recipients. You can use a general “Dear Sir/Madam” salutation in such a situation.

Also, you can be creative. For example, if your recipients are the board of directors, you can open with a greeting like “Dear Members Of The Board.”

Self-recommendation Letters

Usually, someone writes a recommendation letter on behalf of another person. However, there are instances when you could write a self-recommendation letter.

If you’re in school, you could write a self-recommendation letter recommending yourself for a scholarship.

In a business setting, you could self-recommend yourself for a new position in your current company. Another typical instance is recommending yourself for transfer to a new branch.

In this kind of business correspondence, the recipient of the letter could forgive someone writing on your behalf if they open with “To Whom It May Concern.” However, for a self-recommendation letter, it’s unsuitable.

Opening with “To Whom It May Concern,” when self-recommending for a new job position could appear like a demand.

You should address the recipient or group of recipients by their title and name, respectively.

“To Whom It May Concern” Alternative Greetings Here are a few alternatives that you may use in place of “To Whom It May Concern” in your email or letter: Dear Hiring Manager Dear Recruiter Greetings Dear Recruiting Department Dear [Name of department you’re interested in] Dear [Name of the title or role of the person you’re pursuing] Dear Customer Service Manager Dear Customer Service Department Dear Human Resources Department Hello Dear Search Committee Dear [Name] Hi Friend Season’s Greetings Hello There [Name] Good Morning Good Day Dear Personnel manager Dear Customer Service Associate Dear Administrative assistant

Bottom Line

If you must open a letter with “To Whom It May Concern”, make sure the first letter of each word is capitalized, and the phrase is followed by a colon. Also make sure that it’s in the right setting and that the letter is well written.

You can follow the tips in this post to ensure you’re doing it right. Ultimately, you can model the outlined letter template examples.

cover letter whom it may concern

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.

COMMENTS

  1. Best Alternative Salutations for To Whom It May Concern on a Cover Letter

    Below is a list of suitable options to use instead of 'To Whom It May Concern.'. Based on the information available to you, use this list to help guide the salutation you use to begin your cover letter. Dear [Mr./ Mrs./ Ms./ Miss/ Professor, Dr. ] [Last name]: This is perhaps the most desirable as it is the most personal and acknowledges an ...

  2. To Whom It May Concern: Alternatives for Your

    Here are five better alternatives to "To Whom It May Concern" that show you've put in a bit more effort into your application: 1. Dear [Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss] [Last Name], The best greeting on a cover letter is "Dear" followed by the recipient's title and last name. It's simple, clear, and professional.

  3. How to Address Your Cover Letter in 2023

    Rule #1: Address your cover letter to the hiring manager using a formal, full-name salutation (if possible). For a cover letter, you should always default to addressing it to the hiring manager for the position you're applying to. Unless you know for sure that the culture of the company is more casual, use the hiring manager's first and ...

  4. 'To Whom It May Concern' in a Cover Letter

    6 'To Whom It May Concern' Alternatives. Here are six 'To Whom It May Concern' alternatives to use when starting your cover letter: 1. Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss/Mx [Contact Person's Surname], The standard greeting for cover letters is 'Dear' followed by your contact person's title, surname, and a comma.

  5. How to Address a Cover Letter (and Who to Address)

    Here are the most common ways to address a cover letter without a name: To Whom It May Concern. Dear Human Resources Director. Dear Hiring Manager. Dear Recruitment Manager. Additionally, if you want to add a personal touch, address your cover letter to your prospective department or manager.

  6. A Guide To Using "To Whom it May Concern" in a Cover Letter

    Using "To whom it may concern" as an introduction to your cover letter may sometimes pass the wrong message to potential employers or clients. In such situations, it's best to avoid the phrase. Here are some steps you can take to avoid this introduction in your cover letter: 1. Examine the job advertisement.

  7. When To Use the Salutation "To Whom It May Concern"

    Example: "Dear Dr. Lee," Otherwise, you may use only their first name. Example: "Dear Mark," While there have been surveys of HR professionals who say that "To Whom It May Concern" is not a deal-breaker, consider this: Eventually, your cover letter or professional statement will be read by a human being. 2.

  8. To Whom It May Concern: How to Use it & Best Alternatives

    2. Use a colon after "To Whom It May Concern". A colon rather than a comma should follow the cover letter salutation. 3. Add a space or double space before the beginning of the letter. Improve readability by ensuring your resume cover page has enough white space. Here's how your cover letter intro should look like:

  9. The quick guide to using 'To Whom It May Concern' in a cover letter

    Place a colon after the greeting (To Whom It May Concern: ) Some grammar guides require a comma after the word 'concern' instead of a colon, but the important thing to do is to be consistent with how you use punctuation throughout the letter. Before you begin the body of your cover letter, add an extra line after the salutation.

  10. Should You Use "To Whom It May Concern" In Your Cover Letter

    With large organizations, you can use "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Hiring Manager" as a safe option when the company structure is complex and you can't identify a specific person. However, try to at least send your greeting to the department (e.g., "To Whom It May Concern in the Marketing Department").

  11. To Whom it May Concern? How to Address and End a Cover Letter

    3) Use a More Personalized "To Whom it May Concern" Alternative. You can still personalize your cover letter, even when you don't know the identity of the hiring manager. Instead of "To Whom It May Concern," which casts a wide net and is specific to no one, try addressing your cover letter to one specific person.

  12. Perfect Cover Letter Salutations: Start Strong

    As we've already said, there are some greetings that are just too informal to use as cover letter salutations. There are others, however, that tread a very fine line. We'd advise avoiding these openings, as they're either too colloquial or too stuffy. To whom it may concern. We're not in the 19th century anymore.

  13. What to Write Instead of "To Whom It May Concern"

    So do everyone a favor and next time, try one of these "To Whom It May Concern" alternatives. 1. Dear/Hello [Name of Person Who'd Be Your Boss] The best thing you can do for yourself when addressing your cover letter is figure out who the person filling the open role would report to—i.e. your potential future boss.

  14. "To Whom It May Concern" on a Cover Letter

    To Whom It May Concern Cover Letter. One of the important parts of your cover letter will be the salutation — the greeting you use to address the person you're writing the cover letter to. Some people use the phrase, "To Whom it May Concern" as it might seem like an effective way to address an employer when you don't necessarily know ...

  15. How to Address a Cover Letter (With Examples)

    The headline on the image says, "Cover letter format" A woman sits at a table writing on a piece of paper. There's a simple cover letter represented by lines. On one side of the cover letter, there are labels for the sections of the cover letter. The labels are: 1. Date and contact information 2. Salutation/greeting 3. First, introduce yourself 4.

  16. To Whom It May Concern: Definition, Synonyms, and Examples

    Here are four common situations where it's appropriate to use "To Whom It May Concern." 1. Cover Letter. Many job applications require you to write a cover letter explaining why you're a good fit for the role. Often, there are many people who read a cover letter: a recruiter, a hiring manager, the person the role reports to, and more. ...

  17. When to Use the Phrase, 'To Whom it May Concern'

    The phrase 'To Whom It May Concern' is no longer popular or widely used as many consider it rather antiquated and extremely formal. It also may indicate a lack of research, in a time when such information is now so readily available. However, times may certainly arise in which it is still acceptable to use the phrase.

  18. Avoid To Whom It May Concern on a Cover Letter

    The biggest problem with "To Whom It May Concern" is that it's an incredibly generic greeting. Even if it's not be the case, many recruiters read this phrase and think of someone sending 100 cover letters that are exactly the same to 100 different companies. If you want a hiring manager to give you a job interview opportunity, you want ...

  19. How to Use To Whom It May Concern (Alternatives Included)

    Ultimately, there is a time and place for "to whom it may concern" in a letter, just not usually in a cover letter. Try all of the alternatives above before you default to a generic greeting. That way, you're cover letter is more likely to make a great impression, increasing the odds that you'll get called in for an interview.

  20. Cover Letter Etiquette: 'To Whom It May Concern'

    The salutation in your cover letter sets the tone for your communication and demonstrates your attention to detail. Using 'To whom it may concern' can come across as old-fashioned and impersonal.

  21. To Whom It May Concern: How To Use It With Examples

    When using "To Whom It May Concern," capitalize every word in the phrase. Then, follow it with a colon and double-space before you begin typing the body of your text. To Whom It May Concern: I am writing this letter to bring to your attention how unsatisfied I am with your company's customer service.

  22. Cover Letters 101: Should You Address Your Letter 'To Whom It May Concern'?

    W hen applying for jobs, the way you start your cover letter sets the tone for a good first impression. Many applicants wonder if they should stick with the old "To Whom It May Concern." This ...

  23. When and How to Use "To Whom It May Concern"

    "To Whom It May Concern" is a salutation traditionally used in business letters when the sender doesn't know the name of the person who will receive the message. Although it's somewhat old-fashioned, this greeting is still an option when you're sending cover letters, job inquiries, or other business correspondence.

  24. 15 "To Whom It May Concern" Letters With Examples

    1. Scholarship Letter Of Recommendation. This letter example accurately portrays the use of the "To Whom It May Concern" salutation. It's a formal letter of recommendation and highlights the subject in bold capital letters. Meanwhile, the salutation comes after in sentence case and a regular typeface.

  25. PDF To Whom It May Concern: This is to inform you that Middle Tennessee

    PipelineMT, at no charge. Student may also request an enrollment verification in person at our MT One Stop, at no charge. You should consider the National Student Clearinghouse certificate as official enrollment. If you have any questions, please contact the Clearinghouse directly at [email protected]. Thank you. Tyler Henson, Ed.D.