What do you do if you need to write an email but don’t know the name of the recipient?
In this case, you may turn to the once-popular “To Whom It May Concern”.
Today, we are looking into how and when to use this phrase and even provide a sample cover letter starting with “To Whom It May Concern”.
Plus, we will give you several alternative greetings if you find “To Whom It May Concern” old-fashioned.
How to write a To Whom It May Concern cover letter – example
An email starting with “To Whom It May Concern” is not particularly different from any other email you write.
The one small difference to note may be a difference in tone — an email that starts with “To Whom It May Concern” will typically be more formal than an email starting with “Hi”.
Moreover, when you start your email with “To Whom It May Concern”, you admit that you don’t know the person you are addressing.
This means that your email will probably include more general information and no personal references.
Here’s a quick example of how to use “To Whom It May Concern” in an email.
A cover letter using “To Whom It May Concern” as a greeting:
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is John and I am writing in response to a job listing for Senior Sales Manager posted on your company’s website. As a professional sales manager with over five years of experience and a solid portfolio of big contracts and resultative marketing campaigns, I believe that I could be a suitable candidate for this position.
Your job listing mentions that you are looking for someone with experience in IT sales and marketing — and this is the area I specialize in exclusively. Over the past three years, I’ve headed several big digital marketing campaigns for my current employer that have resulted in the rise of online engagement among our clients by over 50%. I have also raised the conversion rate for our promotional listings by 20% over the past six months.
I believe that my proven track record of successful marketing projects, professional commitment and work ethic make me a candidate worth considering. I am sure that I can become a valuable asset in your current marketing initiatives and would love to contribute to your company’s success.
I am looking forward to your feedback on my application for the Senior Marketing Manager position. Please let me know if you have any further questions or would like to see my marketing portfolio. Please find my resume attached to this email.
Thank you for your time and for considering my application,
Here’s how to write a cover letter.
When to use “To Whom It May Concern”
“To Whom It May Concern” may sound a bit outdated and the phrase is used much less often now than before.
However, according to a 2020 survey of over 1,000 hiring managers, 83% of them say that addressing a cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” will have no impact on their hiring decision.
Here are some typical instances for when you might want to turn to “To Whom It May Concern”:
A cover letter is typically read by a number of people: from HR managers to heads of departments and even the company director.
As you may not be able to “predict” who will be reading your email, you may want to start your email with “To Whom It May Concern”.
To Whom It May Concern:
I know that one of Company X’s current goals is to create a centralized hub for all things medical-related online. So this is an incredible opportunity to build a one-of-a-kind online database for patients and healthcare providers. And it’s an excellent fit for my professional and personal interests.
To make an impact, I’d like to apply everything I’ve learned about internet growth marketing and search engine optimization to this effort.
Check out our post on What is the purpose of a cover letter?
Reaching out to a new client
If you send an email to a new client you may want to start it with “To Whom It May Concern”.
However, make sure to use this opportunity to find out the client’s name for future correspondence.
To Whom It May Concern
My name is Martha Stuart, and I’m a sales representative at MailDuck, a company that makes it simple to mail customized postcards from a mobile device.
Since you recently showed an interest in finding out more about MailDuck, we thought we’d provide you with further details about what we do and why we’re the best service.
Please find attached our products and competitive prices. If you sign up before the end of the month, you can save 40% on your first purchase!
I hope to get a response from you soon!
Project or company feedback
If the purpose of your email is to get feedback that might be read by multiple people or departments it makes sense to use a generic phrase like “To Whom It May Concern” to start your email.
To Whom It May Concern
Thank you for staying over the weekend to assist customers with the billing issue we faced. Our engineers are working around the clock to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Thank you for standing with us in these times of trouble.
Your commitment is duly noted. Company X will never forget your contribution to its growth, and we’ll surely compensate you accordingly.
Filing a complaint
If you are writing an email to complain about a product, service or somebody’s work you may want to use “To Whom It May Concern” to avoid pinpointing a specific person.
To Whom It May Concern
This letter is to inform you that on November 5, 2018, I purchased spoiled goods. I was assured that the ordered items would arrive in good condition at the time of my purchase. Unfortunately, they arrived spoiled instead.
Please find the attached photo and the confirmation of delivery. Do investigate this and either issue a refund or resend the product.
I appreciate your time and consideration on this matter.
Letter of introduction
If you’re writing a letter of introduction to someone you don’t yet know you may use to address your email.
Once again, make sure to ask for the person’s name so that you can address them by the proper name and your next email.
To Whom It May Concern
I’m writing to introduce you to Matha Stuart, who I’ve worked with at Company X. As you may already know, I serve as the organization’s Managing Director and collaborated with Matha on many projects.
She has more than ten years of experience in the industry and is a fantastic manager. Matha hopes to relocate to Los Angeles. And she would be grateful for any advice you could give her regarding how to look for a job, as well as any assistance you could offer.
Please find her resume attached here, and feel free to reach out to her at email@example.com or (555) 231-6587 with any questions.
I appreciate your help in advance.
A lot of businesses send out prospects and emails and letters to get in touch with new clients.
As you don’t know the name of the person you are right into, it’s acceptable to use “To Whom It May Concern” in this case.
However, if it is at all possible, do your best to find out the name of the person who will be reading your email.
This will make a much better impression and increase your chances of landing a contract with this client.
To Whom It May Concern
I can see from your website that you’re trying to get more traffic to your website. Without knowing the specifics of your business strategy, I am confident our SEO strategy can be integral to your success.
I have been following your company for a while now. But you might not be familiar with Company X. Our services focus on three primary objectives:
When would you be available for a quick conversation to discuss the future of MailDuck and how we might help?
Related: How to Write a Professional Email
How to avoid using “To Whom It May Concern”
It’s best to only use the generic “To Whom It May Concern” if you can’t find the name of the person you are writing to.
The best possible way to address the email is by using the name of the person you are writing to.
For instance, if you are sending a job application, do your best to learn the name of the hiring manager. Here are just a few ideas on how to do that:
1. Look through the job listing
Quite often, you will be able to find the name of the hiring manager or employer in the job description or job listing itself.
2. Check the website
If you can’t find the name of the contact in the job description, check the company website.
Often, companies will have a page dedicated to their team where you will easily find the name of the hiring manager.
3. Ask your employer
If you still haven’t found the name of the person you should be addressing, consider calling the company and checking with the reception.
You can try to explain your situation and say you are looking for the name of the hiring manager.
If you’ve tried all of this and you still don’t know who you should be addressing, you may have to turn to “To Whom It May Concern” or a similar generic greeting.
How to use “To Whom It May Concern?”
You can use the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” at the beginning of a letter or email – or other forms of correspondence — when you are not sure about the name of the person you should be addressing.
This might happen at many points in your job search.
- For example, you might be sending a cover letter, letter of recommendation, or other job search materials to someone whose name you do not know.
- Note that when you address a letter or email with “To Whom It May Concern”, the phrase should be capitalized and followed by a colon.
- As we’ve mentioned above, “To Whom It May Concern” is a rather outdated expression.
While you can still use it, there are also more modern alternatives that you may want to consider.
Please find some options below.
To Whom It May Concern Alternatives
Here are just a few ideas of greeting that you can use instead of “To Whom It May Concern”:
Here are some options:
- Dear Hiring Committee
- Dear Hiring Team
- Dear HR manager
- Dear HR representative
- Dear Human Resources Team
- Dear Recruiting Manager
- Dear Recruiting Team
- Dear (name of department) Manager
- Dear (name of department) Team
You can also use a general greeting that is meant for a group of people.
For instance, if you are reaching out to someone in your network for help with the job search, you can start your letter or email with “Dear Friends and Former Colleagues” or “Dear Friends and Family” and so on.
Summing things up
So, here are a few key take-aways about using “To Whom It May Concern” in emails:
- You can address an email with “To Whom It May Concern” when you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to: for instance when applying for a job.
- In most cases, you should do your best to find out the name of the person who will be reading your email. This will let you avoid the more generic and outdated “To Whom It May Concern”. Try checking the website of the company you are emailing, their social media pages or even consider calling the reception.
- There are alternatives to using “To Whom It May Concern”. Start your email with a simple “Hello” or a more specific “Dear Hiring Manager” — and so on.
- You may also want to start an email with “To Whom It May Concern” when you don’t want to address a specific person — for instance, when filing a formal complaint.
- Use “To Whom It May Concern” when writing an email to a group of people instead of a specific individual — for instance, when giving feedback.