Creating a Professional Cover Letter that Sticks Out


A cover letter is a vital part of the job application and the first impression you’ll make on a hiring manager.  It can make or break whether the recruiter even looks at your resume and can determine if you get contacted for an interview.  You’ve probably been told that it’s best to address your cover letter to the person who has the power to bring you in for an interview.  Many employers intentionally leave this information off of a job posting, testing which candidates fall trap to the dreaded “To Whom It May Concern” salutation.  Don’t let this phrase turn an otherwise excellent cover letter into a disaster.  Use these tips to uncover the name of the person whose desk you cover letter should land on.

Read the Job Posting.
Sometimes you’ll luck out and the appropriate contact will be hidden within the job post.  For example, the contact name might not be directly given, but the contact information given to direct your e-mail to is  While this still leaves you to figure out what the J stands for, and whether J. Smith is a man or woman, it gives you a start.  If after digging a little deeper, you’re unable to find the information, you can address the letter “Dear J. Smith”.  This will show your attention to detail and your initiative to find the contact’s name.

Call the Company.
When a job posting doesn’t list a contact name, don’t be afraid to call the company and ask.  Call their main number listed and request the name of the company’s corporate recruiting or hiring manager.  Nine times out of ten, the receptionist will gladly share the information. If they do, you’ll know for sure that your materials will be directly sent to the person that needs to see them.  The worst that can happen is the receptionist isn’t willing to divulge a contact name, in which case kindly thank them and say you understand.

Consult the Internet.
A simple web search on Google (or your favorite search engine) can often give you the information you’re looking for.  Try searching “XYZ company hiring manager” and see what you find. This will often pull up results for business directories that the hiring manager is a part of, or even their profile on the company website.  LinkedIn is also a great source to finding out contact information of the employee in key roles at a company.

Ask your Network.
Networking is one of the most important tools in a job search.  Many people use personal contacts to help get referred to a company, but forget to use that connection in the cover letter step of the application process.  Reach out to your LinkedIn and Facebook contacts that are in your industry.  Ask if they happen to know anyone that works at or has worked for XYZ.  Even if they don’t personally know the name of the hiring manager, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.  You never know until you ask.

Be Creative.
Sometimes no matter how much effort you put in, you still aren’t able to find the hiring manager’s name.  The bottom line is to show the employer that you took the initiative and aren’t just showing a disregard for research needing to be done on your part.  If this is the case, use anything other than “To Whom it May Concern”.  Start your salutation with Good Morning, or Good Afternoon.  While this is less formal, it can be seen as more personal and friendly. Follow it up with a light-hearted joke about how the person’s name was impossible to find.  Or, show that you’re excited about the job opportunity by jumping directly into the body of your letter and not including a salutation at all.

We at RealStreet Staffing hope you’ll use the above tips to find the actual contact name of the hiring manager for your dream job, and put “To Whom it May Concern” to rest.  If you’re currently looking for a new opportunity in the engineering or construction industries let the experienced recruiters at RealStreet provide you with the right contacts at internationally known employers throughout the D.C. area and continental U.S. Contact us today, and you could be on a new assignment by tomorrow.

A career in construction administration and management can be (and for me has been) one of constant transition. It’s rather common that employment with a given company starts and finishes with each successive project; you’re a new hire as it’s just getting “out of the ground,” then finished and looking for a new project (and Read More…

Greg Wangler, Pentagon Construction Management Division

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