How to open and close your cover letter
On a cover letter, formality is rarely a bad thing.
Write your cover letter opening and closing with these tips.
In a tight job market flooded with resumes and cover letters, it’s a given that your documents and messages need to be error-free. So how else can you distinguish your communications? Appropriate openings and closings that convey professionalism and polish.
Use our tips below on how to start your cover letter with a proper greeting and sign off with a polished signature. And if you need additional writing tips, join Monster today, so the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service can help you impress employers with a high-impact resume and cover letter.
Cover letter openings
Write a formal greeting, such as Dear Ms. Alvis or Dear Mr. Yang. If you're unsure of the person’s gender and can’t find out, write the full name, as in Dear Chu Li or Dear Chris Beltran.
While it is increasingly common to see greetings without the "Dear" in business, it is less formal. When applying for a job, sometimes you want to start off formally, even though you may take a less formal tone in subsequent written exchanges.
If you’re unfamiliar with someone’s name, be sure you don’t confuse the first name with the family name, which can easily happen in today’s global business environment, depending in part on the languages you know. For example, the CEO of Lenovo is Yang Yuanqing. His surname is Yang and his first name is Yuanqing (in Mandarin, the family name is written first), so if you are addressing him, you would write Dear Mr. Yang and not Dear Mr. Yuanqing.
A final comment on people’s names: be sure to spell them correctly. That is one typo no recipient will miss.
What if you cannot track down a contact name for your cover email? Use a generic salutation, such as Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Recruiting Manager or Dear Human Resources Professional. (Avoid To Whom It May Concern; it is antiquated.) Another option is to write Greetings, which is somewhat informal but polite. You could also dispense with the opening greeting altogether and start with your first sentence, although some recipients might find that approach to be abrupt.
In all openings, be sure to capitalize the first letter of every noun and follow your greeting with punctuation. Use either a colon (Dear Mr. Yang:) or a comma (Dear Recruiting Manager,).
Cover letter closings
End your message with a formal closing, such as Sincerely, Regards or Best regards. If your closing contains more than one word, capitalize only the first word, as in Best regards or Sincerely yours. And be sure to put a comma after your closing. A common error in business communications is the omission of that comma.
Your full name goes on the next line. No need for the extra space that used to go on letters for the signature. Write your telephone number and email address on separate lines after your name. Although this contact information is on your resume (and your email address is on your email), including it with your cover message makes life easier for the recipient.
This post is by Helen Cunningham and Brenda Greene, authors of The Business Style Handbook, An A-to-Z Guide for Effective Writing on the Job
You’ve always been told that you shouldn’t write, “To Whom It May Concern,” on your cover letter. But what should you do when you don’t have the name of the hiring manager?
Related: 11 Tips For Creating Compelling Cover Letters
Here’s today’s Q&A quick tip.
First, Track Down The Name
Obviously, it’s ideal to use the hiring manager’s name in the letter. So, the first thing you should do is try to track down the hiring manager’s name online (i.e. the company website, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).
You can also call up the company directly to ask for the name. Simply call up the company and say, “Hi, my name is ____ and I’m applying for a position at your company. Would it be possible for me to get the name of the hiring manager so I can address him or her in my cover letter?”
If All Fails, Use ‘Dear Hiring Team’
If the hiring manager’s name is nowhere to be found and the company is unwilling to give you his or her name, you should use “Dear Hiring Team” in your cover letter salutation.
By addressing your cover letter to the hiring team, you increase your chances of getting it in front of the right pair of eyes.
Why Can’t You Use Someone Else’s Name?
But what if you know the name of someone else (not involved with hiring) who works at the company? Can you just address it to them instead?
“That person may not be the person that’s hiring, and they could easily throw [your cover letter] in the trash,” said J.T. O’Donnell in a recent episode of Career Q&A. “You don’t know if they’re going to forward it to the right person or not. You DO NOT want to risk that.”
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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