Often overlooked, salutations are important in letters. They carry not only a sender’s courtesy and professionalism but set the tone for the letter, too. Sad to say not every letter sender, even job hunters, can write great greetings. In information technology, this practice is sometimes true because the field has no formal titles for its professionals and casual greetings are common. Hence, most Information Technology or IT pros and neophytes still struggle in writing their best cover letter salutation.
Job aspirants who want to return to the workforce after a hiatus may find this issue crucial. They may have forgotten the rules or are unaware of the correct way to write a cover letter. Further, many consider writing one an extra burden since preparing a resume is already tough.
So, how will you work on your cover letter greeting line then? How can you show respect and familiarity in your salutation? Apply the following tips.
How to Make the Best Cover Letter Salutation
As important as your resume, a cover letter is your job search communication tool that serves as your first point of contact with a potential boss. Likewise, give it importance and enough attention to avoid risking your hiring chances.
Below are tips on how to address a cover letter with a name such as the hiring manager’s or the contact person’s.
1. Avoid casual salutations.
The phrases “Hi there” or “Hey dude” are both informal. Your cover letter is a business correspondence; thus, it must follow standard requirements that fit a business setting. Remember that the best cover letter salutation presents formality and nixes slangs.
2. Always use “Dear.”
No other word can best serve showing your respect than the word “dear.” Hence, it has become the most common word used to express greetings in a letter. In addition, using “Dear” makes your tone more formal and more proper in most circumstances. This practice is true when you’re writing a potential employer. Yet, you can ditch it if you know the recipient well.
3. Use a personal title.
Place the recipient’s personal title in the salutation right before the name and/or surname. Mr., Ms., and Dr. are common titles. As much as possible, avoid addressing women as “Mrs.” although they’re married because this can be offensive. Likewise, abbreviate personal titles.
4. Figure out what surname to use.
It’s important to know your contact’s last name to make sure you don’t confuse it with the first name. Further, not all surnames appear last in a person’s full name when written. In other cultures, often Eastern, surnames come first.
How important then is the family name? You can address the letter without the recruiter’s first name such as “Dear Mr. Zuckerberg.” It still looks formal even without the addressee’s first name, right?
What if the addressee’s gender is unknown or, the name gives you no clue?
5. Cite the full name sans the personal title.
Often, names that sound gender neutral are confusing. Taylor, Chris, Chu, Li, Kelly, Shannon, Madison, Terry, and Tony can be male or female names. Place “Dear” plus the full name (e.g., Dear Chris Montgomery) to avoid error.
What about making a cover letter greeting to unknown person? In detail, when in-depth research hasn’t help, and your letter’s recipient is vague, then:
6. Use a generic salutation.
In case you don’t have or can’t find out the name of the recruiter, use a generic greeting line instead. With this rule, you can place the recipient’s professional title instead. Write “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Human Resources Professional,” both not gender-specific.
One more thing, don’t presume that the recipient is a “Sir” or a “Madam”, a common mistake among professionals in fields such as IT.
General Rules to Follow
Aside from the rules stated above, you can follow other guidelines. Whether you’re an IT pro or a job seeker in another field, applying the basic rules is useful.
What other stuff must you keep in mind when writing a cover letter?
1. Remember the capitalization rules.
Capitalize the first letter of your salutation (Dear) and nouns. These include personal title, professional title, and the recipient’s full name.
2. Use proper punctuation.
End your salutation with a colon, a standard for formal business letters. Commas are for social business purposes and are less formal.
3. Ditch “To whom it may concern.”
This common phrase, which shows vagueness, is already obsolete. Further, it may denote laziness, disinterest, and inattention to detail.
To have an outstanding letter, customize it. In particular, research the hiring manager’s name. Do this and you’ll earn a good reputation as someone willing to take the extra step.
4. Spell the addressee’s name correctly.
To show you’re familiar with the hiring manager or recipient, spell his/her name properly. Errors are disappointing and may ruin your chances for the job.
Follow these tips and you’d come up with the best cover letter salutation for your application tool. Look for a list of salutation examples online to guide you in writing one yourself.
For more job search tips and resources, browse the Resume 4 Dummies’ website. Our main page features resume samples on an array of fields, with the latest samples for IT jobs. It shares tips for job hopefuls with unusual cases, too.