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In every book and article I red the example cover letters start with "Dear Mr.So and So," or "Dear Hiring Manager," or "Dear HR,". Most job applications I see do not specify the name or position of the person who will be reading it. What are some ways around this or what is the recommended opener to a cover letter, after the standard heading of date and your contact info etc.

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Typical examples of cover letters which you'll find online or in books tend to all follow the same stale, generic format. Filled with the same buzzwords, assurances, and doing very little to separate you from the pack.

"To whom it may concern/Dear HR/Dear Hiring Manager, I am confident I would be the perfect fit...based off a strong track record of.. proven abilities in areas ranging from..."

For a smaller company, generally a quick Linkedin search will allow you to make a relatively confident educated guess on who will be reviewing your application. If you're wrong, it still shows that added effort. In a larger company, even addressing your letter to the company, e.g., "Dear ACME Company" or "Dear ACME Recruiting Team" is more targeted than "Dear HR".

Who you address the cover letter to isn't half as important as the content of your cover letter. Make your cover letter stand out from the masses by writing it specifically for the company you're applying. Show off the research you've done, show a passion for the position you're applying, and address any concerns the recruiter might have after looking at your resume (for example, if you're trying to change career fields). Don't be disingenuous and don't be afraid to let your personality shine through in your letter, the person who has spent the last 4 hours reviewing 100's of applications will appreciate it :).

  • +1 for "... a quick Linkedin search will allow you to make a relatively confident educated guess on who will be reviewing your application." – stevvve Jan 29 '15 at 21:38
  • Someone recently told me to skip the opening line all together if you don't know their name and just go straight in. – Jimmy Bauther Apr 20 '16 at 19:33

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