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Often I come across generic department e-mails - usually from HR departments - and I have difficulty in knowing who to address. E-mails such as recruiting@abc.com or join@xyz.org for example.

What would be a polite, but not over the top, manner to address the recipient? I've often started with Dear Sir or Madam, but I find it extremely formal.

In the same manner, how can I reply to an e-mail from a department if it has not been "signed" by a specific person in that department. For example:

Dear John,

E-MAIL CONTENT

XYZ Recruiting Team.

Thanks!

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    Emails never need salutations. Just skip it. – HLGEM Jun 17 '14 at 15:28
  • I feel that would be verging on impolite - especially in Europe/UK. I'm always addressed by name by business partners from Europe (even a "Hi..."), but often US partners usually don't even bother with that - which shows the cultural difference, I guess. – H.E.PennyPacker Jun 17 '14 at 15:48
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    Agreed, I think that would be impolite in the UK. – Fiona - myaccessible.website Jun 17 '14 at 16:17
  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about grammar. – Jim G. Jun 17 '14 at 18:02
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    @JimG - Seems to be more about etiquette. – user8365 Jun 17 '14 at 19:11
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I've had success by addressing the email to the whole team.

Hello ABC Team

Would you be able to assist me with... REST OF CONTENT

Matt

Replying to an email that came from a team is even easier, as you can reply back to the same entity that "signed" the original email, even if it was not a specific person.

For example:

Dear John,

E-MAIL CONTENT

XYZ Recruiting Team.

Can be replied to as:

Dear XYZ Recruiting Team,

Thank you for reaching out to me... REST OF RESPONSE

John

This has worked for me in the US, I am not sure if expectations are different in Europe/UK.

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If in doubt about who to address, for instance if you're e-mailing a group e-mail which you've never had any correspondence with previously, then address no one. A simple hi is normally sufficient:

Hi

I'm enquiring about blah. Stuff and things.

Kind regards
Your Name

People are more than used to informality in e-mails and it looks weird if you attempt to do more. If you're worried about appearing overly informal then use the team's name:

Hi Recruiting Team

Stuff and things...

In the case of )join@example.com_ writing Dear Join would appear a little strange; if you're really wedded to the idea of talking to an entity you can address the company - the people sat behind the e-mail are representing the company after all:

Hi Example Ltd

Stuff and things...

In the latter two examples feel free to substitute Hi for Dear; using Dear in this situation sounds less strange to me, in UK, but I imagine it'd be overly formal elsewhere.

If you're received an e-mail from someone then respond to the person or entity that signed the e-mail - you're not going to be incorrect then.

tl;dr: If in doubt don't mention anyone.

  • That's true, you can't write "Dear Join"...Well pointed out – H.E.PennyPacker Jun 18 '14 at 8:32

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