Avoid ‘To Whom It May Concern’

Cover Letter

Last week, a friend who runs an advertising agency in Chicago passed along a letter from a soon-to-graduate senior. Even though the job seeker apparently took the time to figure out the email address for the agency head, her cover letter opened with “To Whom It May Concern” rather than his name.

In addition to the generic salutation, the would-be applicant also failed to attach her resume. The agency executive did the applicant a huge favor by responding with this gentle reprimand and some important advice:

A sincere bit of helpful advice for you. When you send an email inquiring about a job, and you know who you’re addressing… do so. Don’t make it “to whom it may concern.” Further, give me a reason to call you. Why are you different? And, why not add in a resume?

This isn’t like McDonalds. We don’t have an application to fill out. We look at resumes and determine if it’s worth bringing someone in. Based on interviews – we make hires.

Anyway, I have a son who’s a year behind you in the same program, so I’d want someone to give him helpful career advice too.

The truth is, I’m not hiring entry level now, but it couldn’t hurt for you to send me a resume and I’d consider giving you a courtesy interview.

This exchange serves as a reminder to avoid the lazy “To Whom It May Concern” salutation. Simply make a quick call to the company to obtain the name of the hiring manager or human resources manager, and then use it in the cover letter for your resume.

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