How to write a cover letter to an unknown recipient

Updated March 23, 2017

A hiring manager takes seconds to review a cover letter. In that small amount of time, it's important to make a good impression. A cover letter should be addressed to the hiring manager, according to Purdue University. Spending time to find the right person, verify the spelling of their name and verify gender can help make a good impression.

Check out the company's website. For example, if you're applying to an account executive position, check out the company's website to find the name of the sales manager or vice president of sales. Target the individual that you would report to, if hired for the job.

Call the company and ask for the hiring manager's name. When searching for the hiring manager's name, Purdue University recommends contacting the human resources department. Ask for the name of the hiring manager and the correct spelling of their name. Also, make sure to verify the person's gender.

Write the correct salutation. When writing the salutation, avoid using language that stipulates the hiring manager's marital status. For example, instead of using Miss or Mrs., use Ms. Use Mr. for hiring managers who are male.

Write the body of the cover letter. The first sentence of the cover letter should address where you heard about the job. For example, you might say you heard about the position from a friend who works for the company. The second section should briefly discuss your background and how it relates to the position. The final sections of the cover letter should include a call to action. For example, you might ask for an opportunity to meet with the employer to further discuss their needs.

Ask a friend to proofread. Even after you've read the cover letter a dozen times, it's still possible to miss errors. Having a friend or co-worker read the cover letter will help avoid these embarrassing mistakes.


If you can't find the name of the hiring manager, consider taking a different approach. Address a group of people, such as "Dear Selection Committee." Use this approach only if all methods for finding the hiring manager have been exhausted.


When writing a cover letter, avoid using phrases like "To Whom it May Concern." These phases are overused and could rub the hiring manager the wrong way.

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About the Author

Nicki Howell started her professional writing career in 2002, specializing in areas such as health, fitness and personal finance. She has been published at health care websites, such as HealthTree, and is a ghostwriter for a variety of small health care organizations. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Portland State University.