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
Your cover letter is more likely to land in the right place when it is addressed to the correct person. Unfortunately, many job postings do not include a contact name. When this information is missing, it can leave you wondering how to address a cover letter. It’s always best to try and find the name of the person to address your cover letter to. You can use available resources to learn the name of the person responsible for hiring. Check the company website, make a phone call or look on social media. If your search is unsuccessful, there are other effective methods of addressing a blind cover letter. The salutation may be different, but how to address a cover letter with no name follows the standard format for how to address a cover letter.
Standard Cover Letter Formatting
How to address a cover letter starts with the same information, regardless of who you write it to. Always type your name and contact information at the top of the letter or at the top left corner of the page. Provide the date on the left side of the page, one space beneath your contact information.
Los Angeles, CA 90210
April 7, 2018
Use a General Title
If you are unable to learn the specific name of who to address a cover letter, use a general title. Address the cover letter to the human resources department or the department head of the job you want. This still sounds professional. Provide the company’s address under the name or title.
123 Main St.
Onecity, MA 02116
Human Resources Department
123 Main St.
Onecity, MA 02116
Vice President of Sales
123 Main St.
Onecity, MA 02116
To Whom it May Concern Cover Letter
If you are blindly sending a cover letter, you can always send a more generic "to whom it may concern" letter. Address your letter to “To Whom it May Concern” instead of “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam,” since you don’t want to assume one gender or another.
To Whom it May Concern:
123 Main St.Onecity, MA 02116
Include a Salutation
Begin the body of the cover letter with a salutation to the contact, much like you would when addressing any letter. The salutation should be to the same person the cover letter was addressed.
Dear Recruiting Representative
Dear Human Resources Team
Dear Marketing Manager
To Whom it May Concern
Formatting the Body of the Cover Letter
Follow the standard format for the body of your cover letter. In the first paragraph, state the position you are interested in, how you heard about it and why you qualify. Briefly highlight relevant key accomplishments in the second paragraph. Indicate how and when you plan to follow up in the last paragraph.
- Gender-specific salutations such as “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” display a lack of creativity and could be offensive if the greeting is not appropriate for the reader.
About the Author
Leslie is a Los Angeles native with more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of online and print publications. She has degrees in both journalism and law.
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