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I am trying to write a cover letter for an IT internship at an energy company, but cannot find any information on who is responsible for hiring interns.

How do I address the cover letter?

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"To whom it may concern" is always fine.

"To the Hiring Department"

"Dear Sir or Madam" - a bit archaic but legitimate.

It really doesn't matter as long as the cover letter is:

  • correct spelling and grammar

  • describing the job opportunity you are looking for in your own words

  • describing why you are a good fit

  • expressing a general enthusiasm for doing the work

Those are the key points. In cases where you are applying for a position with no personal contact, it can be useful in the text to reference how you found out about the position so they know where you are coming from.

  • 1
    Using "Dear Sir or Madam" is never archaic. The rules of using formal language have not change. – Ramhound Oct 23 '12 at 11:28
  • Most of teh answer is irelevent to the Q as asked why is it so highly ranked – Neuro Oct 23 '12 at 12:16
  • @Neuro this is all plenty relevant (especially the first bullet point) because bethlakshmi is providing the why to her answer. It is rare on this site for someone to give a why but that is why this answer is rated high. – enderland Oct 24 '12 at 13:58
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The Dear Mr Smith, of a cover letter is good if you have it. If you don't you can leave it off (the salutation).

What we look for in cover letters is the following:

  1. Do you know what the business is and what we do?
  2. Grammar mistakes
  3. And the type of work you are interested in doing.

Resumes with cover letters are sorted above 'just' resumes.

  • Really? Is this an accepted practice? I've never seen a cover letter without a salutation, I think it would look a little weird. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 22 '12 at 20:55
  • I agree with frustrated, this sounds a bit weird. – NimChimpsky Oct 23 '12 at 8:44
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    This is a horrible idea. Using a generic solutation is acceptable, using a placeholder name like "Mr/Ms Smith" is not. If you need to address a female, you always assume they are unmarried, and use the Ms, as this describes a married or unmarried women. This allows you to be correct no matter what. – Ramhound Oct 23 '12 at 11:31
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In an on-line world, it's ok not to who to address it to.

As Craig mentions, grammar is very important for any job, including programming.

Beth has the bigger point - it is vital to explain why you are a good fit for the role. The resume and cover letter will get a Yes or No answer to "Should I interview this person?" within 60 seconds. Your cover letter has just seconds to say, "Here's what you want, and here's how I have it" in language that works for both the hiring manager and the HR screener.

So back to your case... You have to show you know what they need from interns, and how you have it. (Base IT skills, passion for the energy industry, long term interest in working in the field, huge respect for their firm, etc.)

Good luck!

  • @Jim - Thanks for the correction. Of course getting the names wrong is even worse than no names. :-) – MathAttack Oct 31 '12 at 1:16
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"Dear Sirs" is what I was taught at school (UK) was the correct salutation if you do not know the actual name (but this may be country-specific).

  • If it's country specific, you should perhaps include what country you were taught this in - I know in the USA this is a really weird way to address someone for a few reasons – enderland Oct 24 '12 at 17:45
  • Good point though Wikipedia does have "Dear Sirs" as the correct Salutation and Wikipedia is normaly rather americanised. Any comnents on the standards of English education I will leave for anoteher wiki :-) – Neuro Oct 25 '12 at 14:38
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    And if the people you are addressing are not men? Could come across as insulting – Draken Nov 29 '17 at 10:25

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