Best and Worst Greetings for Cover Letters

Cover letters are different now than they used to be. They’re getting submitted via online job applications and forms and not through the mail. They’re not written as letters, they’re written in blank boxes or sent as emails. But that doesn’t mean a professionally written cover letter isn’t important. In fact, it’s probably even more important now and the greeting you use on your cover letter can make or break the professionalism. 

The type of greeting preferred does vary by industry and even opinions but this much is true; it should be a professional greeting that shows you are speaking to someone you respect. It’s not a text a message. 

So, here is a quick and dirty look at some of the best and worst cover letter greetings. 

The Best Greetings for Cover Letters:

  • Dear Mr. Smith
  • Dear Ms. Smith
  • Dear Dr. Smith
  • Dear Professor Smith
  • Dear John Smith

You can always remove the “Dear” and just stick with the formal version of their name. 


Dear Sir or Madam

Dear Hiring Manager

These are great options when you don’t want to make assumptions about gender and when you don’t know who will be receiving the letter. The last is probably the better choice as it takes out all references to gender. 

Don’t know who you’re contacting?

Do your research before you give up. If it’s a little hard to find it shows the employer you care enough to dig a little. Here are some tips: 

  • Use LinkedIn to find the company and see who does the hiring 
  • Go the team section of their website
  • Call the company and ask who does their hiring (bonus points for this one!)


  • To Whom It May Concern: 

This an OKAY greeting. But this is only okay if you have no idea who you’re contacting and you’ve exhausted all your options. It’s formal and can be a bit stuffy but at least the person receiving the letter knows you are being respectful.

The Worst Greetings for Cover Letters

  • Hey
  • Hi 
  • Hey there

These are all extremely casual and frankly just not professional. Even if the company seems laid back or casual, your first impression should be as a professional, not a friend. 

“Hello” is ok if you know their name and you add it after, like: “Hello Dr. Smith.”

More Tips:

  • Spell it right (duh!)
  • Don’t assume gender (if you don’t know, leave it out)
  • Use professional titles when appropriate
  • Even if it’s someone you know, use respect 
  • Don’t leave the greeting out

If you follow these tips, your next cover letter will be off to a great start! Not sure how to do the rest? Just reach out. We can help. 

Need more job advice?

Join Our DiscussionDoes your linkedin profile need a makeover

For more insights and a community of like-minded professionals join our LinkedIn group Resume Help and Advice for Professionals and Executives


Leave a Comment