7 Strategies to Identify the Hiring Manager & Address Your Cover Letter

Have you ever spent hours writing the perfect cover letter only to get stuck on who you should send it to? This post will address strategies for overcoming this common roadblock. Let’s begin!

I’ve worked with many clients who express the cover letter is harder to write than their resume. One of the primary challenges is figuring out how to address the cover letter.

Most people use a generic salutation, such as Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Human Resources Director, To Whom It May Concern, etc. You can do better than this.

In this post, we will cover 7 strategies for finding the name of the addressee.

Why does this matter?

Remember, your cover letter introduces your resume and is often the first opportunity you get to make a first impression. By uncovering the Hiring Manager’s name, addressing it directly to them, you show that you understand the details matter, you did your company research, and you will set yourself apart from other applicants.

Don’t use a generic salutation until you try these 7 strategies:

  • Check the job posting.

Is the person’s name (or email) listed? This approach can be a hit or miss. In my experience, smaller companies are more likely to list the Hiring Manager’s name and contact info vs. larger, more established companies that receive hundreds (sometimes thousands) of resumes per vacancy.

If there is an email address in the job posting, analyze it. Sometimes the job posting will instruct you to email your application directly to someone, usually a Recruiter or Hiring Manager.

For example, let’s say you see a posting with an email address that reads jsmith@abccompany.com. Use Google to search for “j smith” and “abccompany.com” to see if it turns up results that reveal this person’s full name.

  • Use LinkedIn.

This approach is more extensive because you may need to look through multiple profiles to find people associated with the companies you are targeting.

In the LinkedIn search bar, enter “Company name” followed by a keyword, such as Hiring Manager, recruiter, or talent acquisition. Depending on which keywords you used, you will get a list of current employees who hold titles, such as Hiring Manager, Recruiter, or Talent Acquisition Manager.

For example, I tried Hiring Manager Unilever, which didn’t yield promising results. However, when I tried Recruiter Unilever, I found multiple search results.

Check out the person’s location and try to match it up with the location of the target position. While not a sure thing, chances are high this person is the one your application needs to reach.

  • Check the company website.

Sometimes traditional research works. Some company websites will include a list of senior management. Their contact information may or may not be included, but if you find an email address, try sending an email. They may ask you to send a resume or possibly refer you to someone else within the company.

If you are not completely confident who the Hiring Manager is, try using the head of the department for the position you are applying for (i.e. Head of R&D). Don’t worry if you contact the wrong person. I have rarely seen a client get faulted for addressing the letter higher up than necessary. This approach is better than not using a name in your cover letter and still shows time and effort.

No contact info on the company website?

It’s not unusual for large companies to not include the Hiring Manager’s contact information because they receive interest from hundreds to thousands of candidates weekly. If you find a name but no contact info, use LinkedIn’s search function (Company Name + Name of Person from Company Website) and check out their profile.

You can make contact using similar language like the prompt below:

Hi [Name of Contact],

My name is [Your Name], and I am a [Job Title or Aspiring Target Position] with [# of Years] of experience in [Your Industry]. I have been interested in opportunities at [Name of Company] for a while, so I applied immediately when I saw that you were looking for a [Name of Position]. I also wanted to introduce myself because I believe my experiences and qualifications apply directly to what you are looking for.

If you have 10-15 minutes, I would love to chat with you about the [Name of Position] role. I would also be happy to connect you with professionals in my field. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

[Your Name]

[Your Contact Information]

  • Ask your friends and networking contacts.

Do you have friends, acquaintances, or contacts that work at your target companies? If so, use them as a resource! If your connection knows the Hiring Manager, ask for an introduction. Depending on your relationship, you can use email or LinkedIn to send a note or a phone call if it’s a close friend.

If using email or LinkedIn messaging, you could structure your note like this:

Hi [Name of Contact],

[Insert details on how you know this person—same LinkedIn group, fellow college alumni, a friend of mutual connection, etc.]. I noticed you are on the [Name of Team—R&D, Engineering, IT, Product Development, etc.] at [Name of Company]. I have been interested in opportunities at [Name of Company] for a while and noticed an opening for a [Name of Position]. I applied for the role but wanted to introduce myself directly to the Hiring Manager as I believe my qualifications align with the position’s needs.

Would you happen to know the best person to contact to get more information about the role?

Thank you so much for your help on this, and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you in the future.

Best regards [Or preferred signoff],

[Your Name]

This website helps you track down the emails of people at a specific company. A FREE account gets you 25 free searches/month. I recommend checking out this tool once you have created a list of target companies and identified potential people to connect with on LinkedIn.

To use hunter.io, type in a company’s domain name (i.e. unilever.com) and generate a list of emails from employees at Unilever. You can also filter your search by different business areas (i.e. HR, IT, engineering, etc.). Some search results will even provide the title next to the employee’s name.

  • Check out trade publications and press releases.

Trade publications publish newsworthy information about what is happening in a specific industry. They also continuously publish the names of people and companies. Not only are these a great stay to stay updated on industry news, but they can serve as an indirect method for finding the name of the Hiring Manager.

  • Call the company.

If all else fails, pick up the phone and call the company. A smaller company will likely have a receptionist to receive your call. If it’s a large company, you may have to go through the phone menu until you reach a receptionist or operator.

At that point, ask for the person in the HR Department who is accepting resumes and job applications for the target position.

Refer to the sample language below when making this call:

Hello, my name is [Your Full Name], and I am calling because I am applying for the [Name of Position and Job Vacancy #, if applicable] as advertised on [Name of Website where you found Position]. I was hoping you could share the name of the person I should address my letter to.

I have personally used this tactic on multiple occasions. Each time, the receptionist was more than happy to help.

Remember: Be polite, keep it short and to the point, and say thank you!

You found the addressee’s name – now it’s time for a little research!

Do some research once you have uncovered the person’s name to whom you will address your cover letter.

This research does not need to be extensive, but there are things to consider, such as:

  • Does this person have a gender-ambiguous name?

Some examples include Adrian, Jamie, Skylar, etc. LinkedIn can be helpful since many people have a profile photo, which can help you determine whether to use Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

  • If it’s a woman, do you use “Mrs” or “Ms”?

Is she or isn’t she married? If you don’t know, you don’t want to take the chance of insulting her. “Ms” works great and doesn’t comment on marital status.

  • Do they hold a professional title?

For example, Dr., Professor, Captain, Reverend, etc. If this applies to the addressee, use the title in place of the first name (i.e. Dr. Bloom). They will notice the extra attention to detail, respect, and get an overall better feeling.

I tried all 7 tips but I still could not find the addressee’s name. What do I do now?

If all else fails, use “Dear Hiring Manager.” A survey of more than 2,000 companies by Saddleback College found that employers preferred “Dear Hiring Manager” out of the following generic greetings (i.e. To Whom It May Concern, Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Human Resources Director, etc.).

You can also eliminate the salutation and start your letter with the first paragraph.

More often than not, job postings won’t include the name of the Hiring Manager. Don’t take the easy way out if you can help it. By taking the initiative to address the cover letter properly, you will leave a strong impression on the reader. You will also communicate you understand the details matter and create a personal connection with the Hiring Manager. Have you ever used these strategies? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Scientech Resumes is dedicated to helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals find fulfilling work through targeted, branded, and keyword-optimized resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other career marketing documents. Schedule a FREE 20-minute discovery session to get some real-time feedback on your current resume and job search strategy or connect with me on LinkedIn. Let’s get you where you want to go, with greater results!

Kate Williamson

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