A good cover letter should be a polished document that markets you as the best candidate for the job. It makes the first impression with a potential employer and yet, many applicants make a big cover letter mistake in the very first line. It’s a simply fixed error that finds applications thrown in the bin every day.
So what’s the problem? Not addressing your cover letter to a specific person. It may sound like a small detail, but it is a common pitfall hiring managers encounter. It’s important to tailor your cover letter for every application and it shows when you don’t. A generic greeting makes your cover letter look like another generic application. At best your application blends in with the others. At worst it stands out as lazily done and a waste of time for the employer.
Addressing a Cover Letter
So how do you know who to address your cover letter to? Few job ads tell you exactly who your application is going to. There are many reasons why organisations do this. For example, there might be a team of people reviewing applications or they don’t want potential applicants bombarding the hiring manager with calls and emails. But taking the time to find a name shows an employer you care and that you put effort into your application.
Finding The Right Person
Aim to find the name of the person who will make the decision to hire you, whether that’s a hiring manager or department head. The company’s website, LinkedIn and Google can be helpful tools to help you find the names you need.
But how do you know you’ve got the right person? Addressing a cover letter to the wrong person isn’t always as bad as it seems. If the job listing doesn’t tell you who to address your application to, the company knows that. Use your initiative and a bit of common sense when choosing a name. Even if it’s not right, the effort will show. Your potential employer will still look on you more favourably than a generic or unaddressed cover letter. When in doubt aim high. A cover letter addressed to the head of a department is more likely to get where it needs to than one addressed to a random staff member.
No Name To Be Found
You’ve looked and looked but you just can’t find an appropriate person to address your cover letter to. Don’t worry, some companies don’t make that sort of information publicly available. If your potential employer is one of them, they won’t hold it against you if you can’t find a name. That still doesn’t excuse generic greetings. The common two “To whom it may concern” and “Dear sir/madam” are considered overly formal by many recruiters. They come across as archaic, so when your resume says you’re a great communicator, no one will believe you.
If you can’t find a name, you can address your cover letter to a position title. The head of the department you’ll be working in or a manager you’ll be reporting to are great. If you still can’t find something specific simply address your cover letter to the hiring manager. If you feel the position title still comes across as generic include the company name. That little change can make a world of difference. It shows your potential employer you took time and effort with your application.
Select Resumes Can Fix Any Cover Letter Mistake
You’ve put your best foot forward and addressed your cover letter properly. But that’s just the first line, what about the rest of your application? Select Resumes offers a range of career services including cover letter writing.
Our specialist writers know what employers are looking for and how to target your responses to meet those expectations. Make a positive step for your career with a tailored professionally written cover letter from Select Resumes.
Are you seeking a professional resume writing service? Select Resumes can provide this service to you at the highest standard. Select Resumes also offers dedicated selection criteria writers to give you the help that you need for even the most complex government job applications. Once you have secured your interview, talk to us about our experienced and passionate interview skills coaches so that you can feel more confident at your next job interview.