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How to Address an Email Cover Letter

Hiring managers get a lot of emails each day. Make it easy for them to scan your email and follow-up by including a clear subject line and a signature with your contact information. It's important to address the email cover letter correctly, including the name of the person hiring for the position if you have a contact, to ensure that your letter gets noticed.

When you're sending an email, it's important to make sure that your cover letter and resume are written as well as any other business correspondence.

If you can, have a friend proofread before you hit send, to pick up any typos or grammatical errors.

How to Address an Email Cover Letter

When you are applying for jobs, you will often need to send your cover letter by email. Read the directions in the job posting carefully, and include the required materials in the requested format. Make sure you pay careful attention to what they ask for, when. Hiring managers have specific practices to follow regarding how they evaluate candidates.

Don’t get yourself knocked out of contention by not including something like a cover letter with your application materials if they ask for one. Here are tips on how to address an email cover letter, including what to do when you don't have the name of a contact, or if you have a contact's name, but are uncertain of person's gender.

Subject Line of Email Message

Never leave the subject line blank. There is a good chance that if a hiring manager receives an email with no subject line, they’ll delete it without even bothering to open it.

Instead, write a clear subject indicating your intentions.

List the job you are applying for in the subject line of your email message, so the employer knows what job you are interested in as well. They may be hiring for multiple positions, and you will want them to identify the position you’re interested in easily.

Addressing the Contact Person

There are a variety of cover letter salutations you can use to address your email message. If you have a contact person at the company, address the letter to Ms. or Mr. Lastname. If you aren’t given a contact person, check to see if you can determine the email recipient's name.

If you can’t find a contact person at the company, you can either leave off the salutation from your cover letter and start with the first paragraph of your letter or use a general salutation.

Employers who responded to a recent employer survey conducted by Saddleback College preferred:

  • Dear Hiring Manager (27%)
  • To Whom It May Concern (17%)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (17%)
  • Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
  • Leave it blank (8%)

Follow the salutation with a colon or comma, and then on the next line start the first paragraph of your letter.

How to Address a Cover Letter for a Non-Gender Specific Name

If you do have a name but aren't sure of the person's gender, an option is to include both the first name and the last name in your salutation:

  • Dear Sydney Smith
  • Dear Taylor Dolan

If possible, it’s a good idea to check LinkedIn, other career networking sites, and the company website to see if you can determine the gender of the contact.

As always, the extra effort is worth it to make your cover letter stand out among the many that the hiring manager will see.

Body of Email Cover Letter

The body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, and why the employer should select you for an interview. This is where you'll sell yourself as a candidate. Review the job posting and include examples of your attributes that closely match the ones they are looking for. When you're sending an email cover letter, it's important to follow the employer's instructions on how to submit your cover letter and resume. ​Make sure that your email cover letters are written as well as any other correspondence you send.

Conclusion

If you have attached your resume, mention it as part of your conclusion. Then finish your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position.

Include information on how you will follow-up.

Include a closing, then list your name and your email signature.

Signature

Your email signature should include your name, full address, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn Profile URL (if you have one) so it is easy for hiring managers to get in touch.

Firstname Lastname
Street Address
City, State, Zip
Email
Cell
LinkedIn

It’s a good time to be a job seeker: U.S. job growth is strong, unemployment is on a steady decline, and openings are at an all-time high.

That doesn’t make the search any less daunting. Differentiating yourself from every other job seeker on the market is no small feat, and the monotony of filling out online applications can make the task downright exhausting. That’s where a killer cover letter comes in.

Done right, a great cover letter is like a secret weapon for catching a hiring manager’s attention. Next to your resume, it’s one of the most important, underutilized tools at your disposal.

Here are some cover letter writing tips, and a free, downloadable template, to make yours stand out.

1. Personalize

Every cover letter you write should be tailored to the job you’re applying for — just like your resume. Study the job posting carefully, and make a quick list of any essential qualifications.

“Job seekers really struggle with what to say on a cover letter,” says Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, President and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. “Taking a second to think about why you’re applying, and why you’re a good fit for the company, makes the process a lot easier.”

If you’re adding a cover letter to an online application, use a business letter format with a header and contact information. If you’re sending an email, it’s OK to leave out the header, but be sure to provide a phone number (and an attached resume, of course). Make sure you’re clear about the position you’re applying for.

Avoid nameless salutations — it might take a little Google research, and some LinkedIn outreach, but finding the actual name of the position’s hiring manager will score you major brownie points. “Do not start a cover letter with, ‘to whom it may concern,’” Holbrook Hernandez says. “It concerns no one.”

2. Tell a Story

To grab a recruiter’s attention, a good narrative—with a killer opening line—is everything.

“The cover letter is a story,” says Satjot Sawhney, a resume and career strategist with Loft Resumes. “What is the most interesting thing you’re doing that’s relevant to this job?” Use that to guide your letter.

Ideally, the story that drives your resume will focus on a need at the company you’re applying for. If you’re a PR professional, maybe you have a list of clients in an industry the team wants to break into. If you’re in marketing, a successful promotional campaign might be the ticket in. “A hiring manager wants to see results-driven accomplishments with a past employer,” says Holbrook Hernandez. “If you’ve done it before, you can deliver it again.”

If you have a career gap or are switching industries, address it upfront. “If there’s anything unique in your career history, call that out in the beginning,” says professional resume writer Brooke Shipbaugh.

(Here’s a downloadable sample.)

3. Use Bullet Points to Show Impact

Hiring managers are usually slammed with applications, so short, quick cover letters are preferable to bloated ones, says Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of human resources at job site Indeed.

“Make your cover letter a brief, bright reference tool,” he says. The easier you can make it on the recruiter the better.”

Bullet points are a good tool for pulling out numbers-driven results. Job seekers in creative fields like art and design can use bullets to break down their most successful project. Those in more traditional roles (like the one in the template), can hammer off two or three of their most impressive accomplishments.

4. Highlight Culture Fit

It’s often overlooked, but a major function of the cover letter is to show a company how well you’d mesh with the culture.

As you research a potential employer, look for culture cues on the company website, social media, and review sites like Glassdoor. Oftentimes, employers will nod to culture in a job posting. If the ad mentions a “team environment,” it might be good to play up a recent, successful collaboration. If the company wants a “self-starter,” consider including an achievement that proves you don’t need to be micromanaged.

The tone of your letter can also play to culture. “The cover letter is a great place to show [an employer] how you fit into their world,” Shipbaugh says. “Show some personality.”

5. End with an Ask

The goal of a cover letter is to convince the person reading it to make the next move in the hiring process — with a phone call, interview, or otherwise. Ending on a question opens that door without groveling for it.

“You have to approach this with a non-beggar mentality,” Sawhney says. “Having an ‘ask’ levels the playing field.”

Related: What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2018