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Tandem Powered offers a full suite of Professional Resume Writing, Career Development, and HR / Business Consulting services.

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Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

How To Address a Cover Letter

Kent Nolen

Q. I am having a hard time figuring out how to address my cover letter. For the salutation, do you think it is smart to do some research on LinkedIn and find the name of someone in HR and use that name on the cover letter? Is that too risky?

What kind of salutation would you recommend? Generally, I use "Dear Sir/Madam" when I cannot find a name, and "Dear Mr. Surname" or "Dear Mrs. Surname" when I can find someone from HR.

A. I wouldn’t use a specific name unless it has been provided by the company or a referral. That is not to say that you shouldn’t do your LinkedIn research (that is very smart), just don’t use a name that you find as it could be perceived as too forward.

If you don’t have a name, I recommend using “Dear Hiring Manager” as "Dear Sir / Madam" is too formal (even for a cover letter). Also, if you have a name from a requisition or referral, use it exactly as it has been provided and never assume gender.