Your cover letter has three goals:
1. To show off your communication skills in writing
2. To explain why you want the job
3. To demonstrate you’ve done your homework
That last goal is arguably the most important one.
While every other candidate is using the precious real estate on their cover letter writing about themselves, you will also write about the reader and their company.
After all, isn’t that what writing a letter is all about? Personalization?
As such, the worse statement to start your cover letter is:
“To whom it may concern”.
I’ve read stories where recruiters and hiring managers don’t even consider reading resumés if they don’t see their name in the cover letter.
Harsh? Not if you consider they intentionally left their name in the job description for that very purpose.
Addressing your cover to nobody is writing to nobody. You must take the steps necessary to discover the hiring executive’s name if you do not want to displease the reader.
When applying for a job, add these steps as part of your job application to discover the hiring manager’s name:
#1 Read the job description carefully
The hiring manager’s or recruiter’s name might be listed. This is the easiest way to address your cover letter without too much effort
#2 Filtered search on LinkedIn
If the name isn’t on the job description, the hiring manager’s position might be, and the location of the job. “Reporting to the [manager title] in the [location] office.” So do a filtered search in LinkedIn for the title, location and company name
#3 Call the company
Call up reception, ask for the HR team, and let them know you’re applying for a role and would like to learn who the hiring manager is to personalize the cover letter. You have nothing to lose and if it’s a small organization, you might just end up speaking with the recruiter itself.
#4 Google It
You never know. Sometimes a simple Google search for the hiring manager title and company might work too.
#5 Read the company’s “About Us” page
For senior roles reporting to executives or small start up organizations, it’s likely the hiring manager is in the about us section of their company website.
As you can see, you have little to no excuse for not finding the hiring manager’s name for a job application. In the unlikely event that you’ve reached a dead end and nothing’s worked, you can fall back to addressing your cover letter in the follow way (in order of preference)
Hiring Manager Title (“Dear Senior Finance Manager”)
Team Name (“Dear Finance Department”)
HR Department (“Dear [Company Name] HR Department”)
Don’t err on the side of laziness when it comes to your career. Take the trouble to go the extra mile, because your competition is doing the same.
You’d be surprised at how often these little things count.