Hoping to land an interview? Avoid these greetings in your cover letter!

Is your cover letter landing you interview after interview? Probably not. Shockingly, there’s only a 17 percent chance that your cover letter will actually be read, according to recent statistics. So if you want to give yourself the best chance at success, you need to catch the reader’s attention. The opening line of your letter has to be just right.

You may already be wondering how to address a cover letter that will dazzle employers. Well, why don’t we take a moment to talk about what not to do? Here are some of the worst ways you could address a cover letter to an unknown recipient. Avoid them at all costs!

‘Hey’ or ‘Hi’

You’re not texting your mate. When you’re addressing a cover letter to an unknown person, the last thing you want to do is get overly familiar with them. Greetings such as ‘Hey’, ‘Hi’ and even ‘Hello’ are strikingly casual. You should only use them when you know someone or are in a social environment.

Needless to say, your cover letter is neither the time nor the place for these greetings. When you start a letter this way, it’s unlikely that the employer or recruiter will read the whole thing. Your lack of professionalism and awareness is likely to lose you the opportunity before you’ve even received it.

‘Dear Team’

Who exactly are you addressing here? Are you sending a letter (or email) to the whole company? No, you are not. This rookie mistake shows that you have no idea how to address a cover letter.

You’re writing to one or two individuals ‒ the people who have hiring power within the company. The fact that you don’t know who they are already puts you at something of a disadvantage. Don’t make things worse by addressing a group of unnamed people.

‘To Whom it may concern’

You may have been taught this one in school, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. The working world has come a long way in the last 10 years. It’s time we started to update the lingo we use to match that. For instance, if you’re applying for a modern role, such as one in a marketing or a digital field, this greeting won’t align with their culture.

Using this formal way of addressing a letter is so common that it tells the reader two things: 1.) you are lazy and 2.) you can’t be bothered to find out who they are. It’s a real faux pas.

‘Dear Sir or Madam’

You may not know whether you’re writing to a man or woman, but that doesn’t mean this opening will cut it. This greeting is many people’s ‘go to’ when they are addressing a cover letter with no name, but much like ‘To Whom it may concern’, this one is overly formal and outdated.

What’s more, it’s not likely to make any impression on the person reading it. Think about it: They have to sift through hundreds of letters. There is nothing at all that makes this bland opening stand out from the crowd.

‘Dear Recruiter’

Have you ever read a duller opening line? Just because you’re addressing a cover letter to an unknown person doesn’t mean that you have to bore them. While this greeting is professional and will do your cover letter no real harm, it shouldn’t be your first choice.

If you are going through a recruitment agency, finding out your contact’s name shouldn’t be all that difficult. Just ask. Whenever you can, it’s good practice to address a recruiter by their name and title. This small and simple trick shows them that you have gone the extra mile and done some research.

‘Dear HR Professional’

Don’t presume that you know the reader’s job title. You don’t. Depending on the size of the company, there may not even be an HR department. Plus, the person reading your CV and cover letter may have a different title like ‘Talent Acquisition Manager’ or ‘Recruiter’. By assuming what the person’s role is, you could get off on the wrong foot.

If you don’t know the specifics about someone or their role, don’t try to guess. You may think it’s a pretty safe way to go, but it could end up ruffling some feathers. Instead, keep things neutral and avoid any confusion.

When you’re applying for that all-important dream job, choosing the right greeting for your cover letter is essential. It’s the first thing the reader will see and will set the tone of your application. Now that you understand how not to address a cover letter, you can take to writing with the confidence that you won’t make a mistake. Avoiding these missteps is sure to give you a real advantage.  

Once you’ve written a glistening cover letter, make sure your CV is up to scratch too. Submit it to our free CV review and find out now!  

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