What's a better opening than "To Whom it May Concern"?

When you’re writing a cover letter and you cannot get the name of an individual, is there a better opening than “To Whom it May Concern”?


If forced into that situation, I usually write “Greetings:” and then explain in the first sentence who I want to contact.

Someone’s got to have a better solution, though.

“To Whom it May Concern” sucks if you are addressing something in regards to a job or anything else somewhat generic to a company or school.

Dear “Company Name” is much better choice for most circumstances.

Cover letter for what? A résumé? Do your darnedest to find the name and position of the person who you’re addressing.

But if you can’t and it’s a formal situation, “Dear sir or madam” is the standard form.

I sometimes use “Dear folks” in a less formal situation (i.e. to a company I’m buying something from) or when addressing a number of people I know personally.

I had a friend who would open such letters with “Great Corporate Entity”.

I’m not sure it had much effect, but it was definitely more fun.

Yes. Unfortunately it’s to be addressed to HR and according to my email contact “there’s not a specific individual assigned to filling this particular position”. (It’s been a while since I had to write a “Hail Mary” cover letter.)

In school we were taught to use Dear Sir, or Madam (or Dear Sirs if writing to the military).

Dear Madam or Sir is Miss Manners’ choice.

I would go with Matt’s post- lots of gals in HR and putting Madam first might score you a point.

There is no need to use a salutation at all. Just write the letter and don’t waste the space. They won’t care. They won’t even notice.

I agree with Exapno. All the other forms sound stilted or too casual to be taken seriously. If you leave off the salutation, no one will notice and you will avoid any problems.

Darling Facist Bully-Boy,”

Reminds me of Igatius’s letter to Isaac Abelman, a dissatisfied customer who complained that Iggy’s employer, Levy Pants, had messed up an order by sending work pants that were too short:

I prefer Dear Sir or Madam.

You never know when the person reading your letter is going to be a nitpicker. If you are applying for a job or submitting something for publication, always use a salutation. “Dear Madam or Sir” is pleasant.


Dear John,

You’re dumped.

have a nice day

Like Exapno and Reality, I can’t imagine any HR Department having a problem with:

Human Resources Department
Megalith Corporation
123 Fake Street
Re: Position #BJ247


I have sometimes used “Dear Hiring Manager.” That’s really who the letter is addressed to, even if it is being screened by HR first. Obviously, it’s much better if you know the name, but sometimes companies keep the name confidential to avoid the person getting overwhelmed with calls and emails.

The no salutation approach may work. I’d say it depends somewhat on the job and the detail-oriented nature of the people doing the hiring. Someone who cares about this kind of thing will assume your cover letter is the kind of letter you would send to a customer. In a field that is heavily relationship-based (sales, fundraising, HR) a no-salutation letter would make a bad impression. If you are in IT where it is traditional to address people by “re: Ticket Number XXXXXXX,” it’s probably a fine approach.