December 9, 2023

Many job seekers still don’t understand the importance of a cover letter in their job search. Your cover letter has the power to turn your job application from a “maybe” to a “yes.” Even small details, like how you approach your cover letter, can affect a hiring manager’s decision on whether to call you.

As a job seeker, you have several options for approaching your cover letter. But there’s one you should never use — no matter the circumstances.

Here’s why you shouldn’t write “To Those Who May Concern” in your cover letter:

it’s objective

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The whole point of your cover letter (at least a damaging one) is to connect with the employer. How can you do that when you start your cover letter with such a nonchalant greeting?

When you include “people who may be involved” in your cover letter, you’ve lost an opportunity to appear warm and friendly. Cold and formal, this greeting is common in business correspondence. Perhaps a cover letter used to be considered a form of business correspondence, but it is now much more than that.

So, skip the form. Your cover letter should be personal. It should tell a story – a story about why you want to work for the company, why you are passionate about what they do, and how you believe you can help them achieve their goals as an organization. No good story starts with “To Whom Might Concern”.

it’s outdated

Man with laptop deletes "to whom It May Concern" on his cover letter

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If you include “people who may be involved” in your cover letter, chances are that the hiring manager will think you’re old school, if they haven’t already done so after looking at your resume.

In job hunting, it’s all about relevance. By using this outdated greeting in your cover letter, hiring managers also start to question how relevant your skills are, or whether you are still relevant to your industry.

In short, “To Whom May Concern” is outdated, dated, and can call into question your relevance as a professional and as a business. That’s not what you want.

it’s lazy

Woman on laptop avoids writing "to whom It May Concern" on her cover letter

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Before the internet and the rise of professional networking sites like LinkedIn, it might have been perfectly fine to write “to those who might be interested” in your cover letter. But now information about who works for a company and their role in the organization is freely available and accessible to anyone. You just have to look for it.

That’s why it comes off as lazy when you use this type of cover letter greeting. Hiring managers may think you don’t care enough about the job opening to get your cover letter right to the person reading it. So, do you really care about getting the job? Do you really want this job? If you were lazy before you got the job, does anyone think you might be lazy at work too?

When looking for a job, you never want to do the least. Putting “who it might focus on” on your cover letter is the bare minimum.

A little research never hurts anyone. Before starting your cover letter, try to find the name of the hiring manager at the company you’re applying to. If you can’t, writing “Dear Hiring Team” or “Dear Hiring Manager” will do the trick.

How you approach your cover letter matters more than you think. Every little detail can affect a hiring manager’s impression of you. So, whatever you do, avoid cold, outdated and lazy greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” in your next cover letter. You will thank us later.

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This article was originally published on an earlier date.

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