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Never Write “To Whom It May Concern”

Never Write “To Whom It May Concern”

Lance Haun | Rehaul

I’ve received cover letters with that opening line. I’ve received PR pitches with that same opening line. I’ve also received opening lines like:

  • - Dear sirs
  • - Dear sir or madam
  • - Attn: personnel
  • - Dear blogger or expert

In every single one of these cases, these people wanted me to do something for them. Read their resume, give them an interview, review their product or talk with them about their latest study’s findings. Yet, they couldn’t be bothered to figure out my name.

(This seems especially egregious on e-mails directed at me from this site. The title of this site is Rehaul by Lance Haun. My name is right there people.)

Now at times, I could care less that you canned up a letter to me. Sometimes a talent need is important enough to disregard something like that. Sometimes I want to cover something bad enough that I am willing to put aside bad PR. But if you are going to broadcast your message without personalization though, take out the “To Whom It May Concern” or any other phrases that highlight the fact that you didn’t feel it necessary to figure out my name. Cut straight to the point and don’t tell me that you just love my company or my site. A company or site that you couldn’t even name.

Personalization for hiring

If you do want to personalize a cover letter or other correspondence with a company you are trying to get hired at, it is a pretty simple two step process:

1. Search for the company and see if the person pops up.

2. If no luck, call and get the information.

The key here is maximizing your time. You don’t want to be spending 15-20 minutes researching the name of the recruiter or hiring manager online. If I can’t find the information on the Internet quickly, I simply call the receptionist and ask who I would address my correspondence to for XYZ position. At worst, it would be a transfer to a person in recruiting.

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