Whenever possible, address your cover letter to an actual person, not “To whom it may concern” or “Dear hiring manager” or simply “Human Resources.” Using generic terms like those aforementioned demonstrates indolence, especially if it was possible for you to find out to who you could have personalized your letter. If the job posting does not indicate to whom you address your letter, call the company to find out who is responsible for filling the vacancy. Then, ensure you get the correct spelling of the individual’s name, both first and last. Never assume that if the hiring manager’s name is Jane that she spells it J-A-N-E. She could spell it J-A-Y-N-E or J-A-I-N-E—you never know. Moreover, if the receptionist provides you with an ethnic name for the hiring manager like Abhinav, but indicates you can simply write Ab, please ensure you write out the entire name, not the nickname. Addressing your cover letter to an individual where you have incorrectly spelled their name or used their nickname is just as bad as writing a generic cover letter.

Dale Carnegie, who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People, said “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” When you find yourself in a crowd and hear your name, do you not immediately turn to see what is happening? When you are watching a movie and see your first or last name in the credits, do you not point it out excitedly to your friends? Consider this: a hiring manager goes through tens, sometimes hundreds, of resumes. When they read “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager” again and again, then suddenly stumble upon a cover letter addressed specifically to them, they will immediately take notice…like they just heard their name in a crowd. The hiring manager may also reflect upon the time it took you to go the extra mile to acquire the information. So if you want to be memorable, be the person who took the time to personalize your cover letter. You will be recognized for your efforts.

Now, if you tell us that you have found a job posting where the company description sounds perfect, but no individual was identified to whom you submit your application, there is no phone number, no company is listed, no email, and no website or address, then we are going to ask you why you think this company is being so secretive. What is it that makes a company feel the need to not be transparent? Is the company not proud of their reputation? Are they hiding because of a poor Better Business Bureau standing or poor reviews? And finally, would you even want to work for such a company? Hmmm? Something to think about. 😉