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06 May 2010 @ 01:40 pm
Tapping the Hive Mind: Greetings and Salutations!  

When responding to a job posting that doesn't list a specific contact person, what's the best way to open a cover letter? I've been using "Dear Sir or Madam", but that sounds a little vague, a little stiff, and a lot like the opening to a Beatles song.

Obviously, the ideal option is to address a cover letter to a specific person, by name, but this is not always possible.

Should I stick with "Dear Sir or Madam", use some other gender-neutral salutation, or just leave it off entirely and dive right into the "Look At Me, I'm Wonderful!" part of the letter?

Poll #1561114 It took me years to write, will you take a look?

How should I open a cover letter when I don't have contact information for a specific individual?

Dear Sir or Madam:
Dear Hiring Manager for [Job Title/Listing Code]:
Re: Your Posting on [Craigslist/Monster/LinkedIn]
Re: [Job Title/Listing Code]
To Whom It May Concern:
Greetings and salutations!
YARK! and forsooth!

No wonder you never get interviews! You should use THIS:

ebony14 on May 6th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
Hey, now there's a note from the past. Man, I haven't used "YARK!!! and Forsooth!" in years. (Technically, it's supposed to have three exclamation points after YARK.) I don't think it would be a good opener, though. It makes more of an impression when spoken.
Ursula Messerschmitt: Cat-Truly Evil Kittensnobahr on May 6th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
And even more of an impression if one YACK!!!s... although not necessarily a positive impression.
Hafochafoc on May 6th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
Of course, you should make every possible effort to have a real name on the letter. State Enforcement Guy has stooped to phoning the company and confessing he had a letter to send to the (insert position title here) and didn't know the name. If there's a live receptionist, they're usually quite cheerful about giving you the right name. (Given that letters for me are usually trouble, this might be evidence of a little hostility within the company's ranks. But it works anyway.)

If you call and the receptionist refuses to give you the name, it's likely that anonymity is their policy. Perhaps for security reasons; it's hard to be too careful. If that's the case then they blamed well ought to be expecting a nonspecific greeting, so it won't ding you any in their estimation.

We use "Dear Sir or Madam," and since we're a boring state agency this is probably the most boring, expected, conventional option available to you. Which is not a bad thing. In my personal correspondence I have used Dear Friend: but that's a bit presumptious even in an era of "Friends Lists" that may or may not have anything to do with genuine friendship.

Best of luck.
Tombfyretombfyre on May 6th, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC)
Addressing it to the hiring manager always works. Though the best bet is to try and find out whom the person actually is that will be reading the thing, and addressing it to them, and/or the HR department and hiring manager. :3
rodant_kapoor: Firefoxrodant_kapoor on May 7th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
Literary agent Janet Reid offers the following instructions for correspondence with her:

"The salutation should be Dear Janet, Dear Ms. Reid, Dear Snookums; or some variation of that. It should not be To Whom It May Concern, or Dear Agent."

Therefore Kapoor recommends "Dear Snookums".
Moonfiremoonfires on May 7th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
On mine, I just use "Dear Hiring Manager" without anything else. The job is probably both in the subject of the e-mail and the letter itself, or the letter needs to be generic that such specificity is not possible.
Paka: coyotepaka on May 7th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Please take any of my advice with a big grain of kosher rock salt, as I'm still not doing great on the jobhunting front.