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How often is it really an expectation to have the hiring manager's name as the addressee of a cover letter?

Thinking of it one way, wouldn't agencies get tired of people calling to ask for the name of the hiring manager? And doesn't a cover letter get passed around amongst a few people usually anyways?

The hiring manager's name isn't usually on a company website, or on job listings, so why are they to expecting to have their name used? Is it just weed out people who don't put in that slight amount of extra effort?

Also, upon asking one time, I was told a full name couldn't be given out, for what I see now are obvious reasons. Does it seem informal to use just a first name?

  • Welcome to this site. It's usually recommended that you wait a day or so before accepting an answer. That way more people are likely to give an answer, and you might get a better one than the first one that shows up. – thursdaysgeek Jan 3 at 21:43
  • "The hiring manager's name isn't usually on a company website, or on job listings, so why are they to expecting to have their name used?" What makes you think this is expected? – HorusKol Jan 3 at 22:00
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My first internship was in an HR department. I used to scan resumes into the database all day. And yes, we didn't like it when people called to get the name of the hiring manager.

That being said, when a resume was forwarded to us by a hiring manager, that automatically gave the resume more priority. We didn't want to be accused of losing a resume, or filtering out a resume.

Please understand the nuance I'm making. The resume didn't just need to "addressed to the hiring manager", it needed to be forwarded from the hiring manager, or if not forwarded by him/her, it needed to have something written in the email or in the cover letter that implied that the candidate had already spoken to the hiring manager.

So any resume sent to us that way, we'd automatically tick a checkbox in the database after we scanned it in, and for paper copies, we made sure those resumes were placed on the very top of the stack when sending the stack in. The checkbox in the database had the same effect, it would help place the resume on top of the list in the actual database.

For that reason, I always include the name of the hiring manager with my resume and I always use the email address (or the maildrop) of the hiring manager. That being said, if the hiring manager tells me to upload the resume directly into their portal, I will obviously follow their instructions. It's just that I'll be sure to include a note that says that so-and-so told me to upload the resume to the portal.

If the name of the hiring manager is not available, the other thing that works is to use another employee's name (not in HR). At my old job, that had the same effect. Again, we didn't want to be accused of losing resumes, or filtering out resumes. So if it looked like a resume came in from an employee referral, we'd make sure it got top priority as well (whether or not the employee was the hiring manager or not).

And finally, what happens if I can't easily get the name or email address of anyone outside of HR? I generally don't sweat it. My own resume is generally good enough to get interviews.

In fact, if your own resume is good enough to get you interviews in general, you should feel free to completely ignore my advice. As long as you're able to get to the next stage, that's all that really matters.

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It's perfectly acceptable to simply address the cover letter to "Hiring Manager" rather than using a name. If you have the name, then use it, but don't go out of your way to get it.

See Alison's answer on this.

HorusKol's comment is right on: To whom it may concern" is a good choice.

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    Or good old "To whom it may concern" – HorusKol Jan 3 at 21:56
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You have some misconceptions. Most places don't ask for or read cover letters these days. Also, they don't want you to know the hiring manager's name because they don't want you pestering them directly. They post a job, 300 people apply, if those applying knew the hiring manager's name they would be flooded with messages from company email and Linkedin. They don't want you to know who the hiring manager is because of this. So they aren't concerned with how you would address them to begin with.

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Playing the game the HR way is at best a crapshoot. HR is where resumes go to die. Yes, the above responses are correct in that attempting to get the hiring manager for a listed position is not going to happen (in most cases).

I'm just a plain old full-stack developer. I was laid off from my previous two positions. I am now 63 so I wasn't going to scatter resumes hoping that something hit. I suspect the algorithms used in applicant tracking software would filter me out as my graduation date of 1979 would make me the dreaded "too old".

I started after my first layoff. I started talking to everyone I would know that I was being laid off. Several people would give me names of someone they knew who "does something in IT". I collected these names and put into a small app I wrote (got to learn MySQL!!). I would then contact them to discuss their company, industry trends, etc. This was NOT to discuss potential employment. I would let them know that I was gathering information of potential future employers. Several times they was say they don't have anything but you can talk to so-and-so at XXX company.

Now you're building a list of contacts. In the old days this was called networking.

The biggest thing I had to learn was to put myself out as as problem solver. Hiring managers want to solve pressing issues. This is where talking and understanding their needs is important. How can I help solve their business issues?

My 1st layoff was a position elimination. In the 2nd the company was sold and local operations are being severely scaled back. In both cases I was able to get in front of the hiring manager instead of going directly to the resume graveyard. In both cases the hiring manager went to HR after saying "hire him".

Good luck!!

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Employers want to hire the best candidates. They have hiring processes designed to facilitate this, including management of how and where they advertise positions, how candidates contact or interact with their staff, and how resumes and other data about candidates are handled.

When you approach your question with that in mind, it quickly becomes clear - putting a person's name on a document is likely not important. If it was important, you would be instructed to do so, or the system would do it automatically for you.

When you apply for a job in a portal, or send a resume to the contact that the employer has published for candidates, you're following the rules of the process the employer has published. Employers want you to follow those rules! Following the employer's hiring process is the best way to ensure you are properly considered. If a job add instructs you to address applications to So-And-So, then by all means you should put that person's name on your cover letter. However, if the add instructs you to email your resume to hr@companyname.com, or apply through an online portal, then there's really no point in trying to determine a person's name.

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