“To Whom It May Concern” is a letter salutation that has traditionally been used in business correspondence when you don’t have a specific person to whom you are writing, or you do not know the name of the person to whom you are writing. Many people use “To Whom It May Concern” in business letters that are submitted with job applications and in cover letters, but this can come across as formal and impersonal.
In this post, we’ll discuss the terms and phrases that could replace “To Whom It May Concern” including:
- Dear Hiring Team
- Dear Recruiter
- Company Name Hiring Manager
When to use “To Whom It May Concern”
We all know that when you’re addressing a letter to someone, you begin with their name. But what if you don’t know their name? You could start your letter by saying “Dear Sir/Madam,” but this can be very formal and impersonal, especially if the letter is going to a friend or family member.
Instead of starting your letter with “Dear Sir/Madam,” try using the salutation “To Whom It May Concern.” This phrase is one way of indicating that you do not know who will be reading your correspondence; it signals an open-endedness rather than specific intentions (and therefore doesn’t require any deference).
How to capitalize “To Whom It May Concern”
The salutation “To Whom It May Concern” is written in block capitals. This means that the letters are large and capitalized, as if you were writing a title over your head. The rest of the body of your letter should be in lowercase unless it contains a proper name or another title.
Your choice of words in this first sentence has great importance because they will set the tone for how your reader perceives you. They can also make all the difference between getting noticed by someone with whom you want to connect, or being passed over because they see no reason why they should take an interest in what’s on offer from some unknown person who seems overly formal or stuffy.
Avoid using “To Whom It May Concern”
You should absolutely avoid using the phrase “to whom it may concern.” It’s weak and vague, and it’s better to just not use a salutation at all than use one that doesn’t identify who you’re writing to. If you don’t know who you’re writing to, ask someone in the know—the best way is to call the person out by name if possible (see #6 below).
If you do know who you’re writing to, but can’t find their name anywhere on their website or in your research about them (there are often multiple names), try one of these suggestions:
- For example: “Dear Ms. Jones,” instead of “To whom it may concern.” In this case, we used Ms. because “Ms.” is simply more formal than “Miss” or “Mr.,” which are not as commonly used as they once were; however, if there were two women working at this company with last names that started with J then we’d need some other indicator besides just their gender!
- Or maybe even better yet would be something like “Dear Jane Smith-Jones,” since then everyone knows exactly who they’re addressing without having any confusion whatsoever! Who knows? That could even lead into some interesting conversation upon meeting face-to-face later on down the road…
Examples of how to end “to whom it may concern” letters
To the hiring manager of [company name],
To Whom It May Concern,
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],
[Company Name] Hiring Manager,
Alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern” in a letter
Alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern” in a letter
In the example above, we’ve used “To Whom It May Concern” because we don’t have any other information about who will be reading the letter. However, there are many ways to modify this opening phrase so that it’s more likely that your reader will know exactly who you’re writing to and why. Here are some examples:
- [Use a specific name] In your opening line, use an individual’s name instead of “whom.” For example: “Dear Ms. Smith,” or “Dear John.” This method makes it much more likely that the person receiving your message will know who you’re talking about—and can then decide whether or not he/she should read further into the letter!
“To Whom It May Concern” is a generic salutation for a letter.
“To Whom It May Concern” is a generic salutation for a letter. It’s best to use it when you don’t know who exactly your recipient will be, but you do know that they’ll be in charge of hiring, or at least taking care of the paperwork involved in applying for a job.
If you’re writing to an HR rep or recruiter, odds are good that they’ll want to read about why someone like YOU would be great at this particular job. Your cover letter should explain what skills and qualifications you bring to the table—and how those align with what the company/recruiter is looking for. If there’s something specific they’ve mentioned in their original ad (a certification or degree), make sure to mention it!
Also worth noting: The “to whom” part isn’t optional; if you don’t include one when writing an email or cover letter, chances are good no one will read it.
By now, you should have a better understanding of how to use “To Whom It May Concern” in a letter. But above all else, remember that this salutation is not always necessary. As we discussed earlier, personalizing your writing when possible will ensure that readers will care about it—and it may even help you land the job!