Imagine this scenario. You are applying for a job and you are 80% sure you have found the recruiting manager of the company. It is unclear that they are definitely the right person to address it to, but it is likely that they are.

Is it worse to add "to whom it may concern" on your cover letter or address it to the wrong person?

Personally I think it is better to address the wrong person than no one at all, because at least it looks like you made the effort.

  • 2
    I don't think its a duplicate, that question is asking if its vital to address the correct person where as this question is asking if its worse to address the wrong person that no one at all... Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 14:45
  • Minor grammatical thing, it's whom in this case and not who
    – Draken
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 14:53
  • Personally they both sound equally horrible to me.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:00
  • FWIW, I didn't call it a duplicate, I said it was primarily opinion based.
    – Chris E
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 18:10
  • "Greetings." is a lot less "stuffy" but still not too personal, IMO Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 18:13

4 Answers 4


Personally, I have never put a name to address a particular person on a CV or cover letter. I've never even written "To whom it may concern." If it concerns the person, then it does, and they will read it. If it doesn't, they'll pass over it. (Edit: What I frequently use on cover letters is "Dear sir(s), ma'am(s):")

That said, writing the wrong name, like you said, will simply cause confusion. For instance, the person whose desk it does land on may wonder what it is for, and the person whose desk it was supposed to land on will wonder where it is, or worse yet, never know that he was supposed to receive it.

Personally, I wouldn't write any name on it. A generalization won't hurt, and a specification could potentially. As for making it show that you have put some effort into it: I'd save that for the interview or a less official document. The CV is basically just for the employer to learn who you are and what skills you have. Unless you're applying for a job in company research or something, including the name of the recruiting manager won't really help you get the job.

  • Did you mean "name or address"?
    – DCON
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 15:56
  • 1
    @DonnachaConnolly, thanks for pointing out! Specifically, I meant the name of the person who I expect to read the CV, and I've edited to reflect that more clearly. Thanks for the clarification!
    – anonymous2
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 16:40

In a cover letter it's nearly always better to leave a name off if you are unsure. No one really will remember a "To whom it may concern" without a name, but it's likely an incorrect name will be noticed.

For example, imagine someone is greeting you. Would you rather they greet you incorrectly or just say something like, "Hey, how's it going!" -- almost everyone would prefer a generic greeting over an incorrect one.


This may well vary depending upon local culture but personally if I were to receive a cover letter (I'm assuming that's what you are referring to) with the wrong name on I'd be pretty offended (and would probably file it under "BIN") whereas I'd be pretty neutral about one addressed "to whom it may concern".

The first speaks to me of a lack of competence or sloppiness and the second mainly sounds like they are just applying for lots of jobs and are trying to save time.


This looks like the perfect opportunity to put into practice what many job-searching sites tell people to do: give them a call first!

If you call them, or email them, you can not only make sure you are addressing the right person, it also gives you the opportunity to ask a couple of questions about the job. Whatever they answer you can incorporate in your cover letter (and you can erase anything that turns out to be irrelevant!)

Also, you can refer to your conversation in the cover letter, making your application a follow-up to an existing contact, rather than a cold call like most of the other applications.

  • +1 This is what I've always done. It's a minor amount of effort, and surely stands out more than "To whom it may concern"... Your cover letter should be personalized for each job you apply for, so why not make a phone call to show the employer you care about their job? Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 18:13

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