“To Whom It May Concern” is used in business correspondences when you don’t know the recipient’s name or you’re not writing to one specific person. For example, if you’re writing a cover letter as part of a job application and it’s not clear from the job posting who will be reviewing your application, you may choose to start your letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

This greeting was developed before the internet when it was more difficult to identify people’s job roles by researching companies, online public directories, or professional organizations. Today, it’s much easier to find the names of HR managers, department heads, and other decision-makers you may be attempting to reach.

However, you should only include someone’s name if you’re absolutely certain they’ll be the one receiving your email or letter. Addressing your message to the wrong person could create confusion or look unprofessional. In those circumstances, it may be better to use the phrase, “To Whom It May Concern.”

To Whom It May Concern/To Whom It May Concern Letter

If You are writing another cover letter and blindly reaching out to a recruiting department, “To Whom It May Concern” may feel a little tired. Well, that’s because it is. Would you like to receive a universal letter that pretty much addresses no one? Probably not.

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Steps To Use To Whom It May Concern
Steps To Use To Whom It May Concern

Here are several ways to spruce up the letter and show you’re putting in more effort than your average job seeker. Whichever way you decide to spice it up, please don’t be that guy or gal who makes the ultimate faux pas: “Dear Sirs.” Yes, job seekers still do this, and yes, for equal opportunity workplaces it can be a major turnoff. Even “Dear Sirs or Madam” is a lot better but still seems very 1950s.

Try these “to whom it may concern” alternatives instead

  • Dear [hiring manager’s name].
  • Dear [recruiting manager’s name].
  • Dear Recruiting Department.
  • Dear [name of the department you’re pursuing].
  • Dear [name of referral]

1. Dear [hiring manager’s name]

With a little digging online, you can probably get a sense of who the position reports to. Considering many companies list their executives, you can drill down from there. Why not start from the top? If you’re pursuing a job in human resources and the company clearly lists the name of the chief HR executive in charge, go ahead and address the letter to that person.

Will the executive be the first person to open the cover letter in the applicant tracking system? Not exactly. Will it look like you did your homework? You bet.

2. Dear [recruiting manager’s name]

Again, with some online research, you can find out who is opening each résumé and cover letter in the system. Although calling the company may not always do the trick, you might as well try. Ask to be connected to the experienced hire recruiting team or someone in talent acquisition.

Be honest: Say you want to personalize your cover letter and aim to connect with the professional managing that specific job requisition. At that point, you can also ask for the company’s formula for employees’ email addresses. (For example, is it an employee’s first initial and last name at the company name dot com? Or is it the full name? Or just initials?)

Another way to find this email code is by looking at the media page of the company’s website. Click on the press room page to look at press releases. If the public relations team is internal, those employees’ email addresses will be listed.

Voila! Just like that, you’ve deciphered their email address code. At that point, you can contact the recruiter via email with a personalized letter just for him or her. If you emailed the wrong person, chances are they’ll forward it internally to the right one.

3. Dear Recruiting Department

If you hit some dead ends during your research, save this precious time for networking and go generic instead. Recruiters and hiring managers to spend split seconds on your cover letter to make a decision, so while the content matters most, even saying “recruiting department” will show a nice touch.

They won’t have time to wonder why you didn’t call the department to get a specific name, but they will see you went an extra step that goes a long way.

To Whom It May Concern
To Whom It May Concern

You really can’t go wrong with this particular approach. When you submit your résumé to the system, it’s recruiters, sources or their coordinators essentially folks in talent acquisition who are reviewing your paperwork. Bingo!

4. Dear [name of the department you’re pursuing]

If you’re pursuing a position in marketing, you can’t go wrong by addressing your letter, “Dear Marketing Department.” Even a small step like this will get noticed positively.

Plus, your cover letter will likely reflect your marketing skills and experiences, thereby tying in the greeting nicely. The first course of action would be to find the name of the director who’s doing the actual hiring as mentioned above, but when all else fails, address it to the department.

5. Dear [name of referral]

Your networking has been paying off! If your neighbor or friend from Toastmasters or yoga offers to forward your résumé internally, then use his or her name in the letter. The email will definitely get read because a referral has clout and stands apart from the thousands of generic résumés in the system.

If the string of emails gets separated but the cover letter and résumé get reattached elsewhere, at least you’re referencing the referral in the letter and your introduction mentions it as such, too. You’re less likely to get lost in the shuffle this way, and isn’t that the whole point?

To Whom It May Concern Letter Sample

To Whom It May Concern Letter Sample
To Whom It May Concern Letter Sample

To Whom It May Concern Capitalization

Whether to write “To Whom it may concern” or “To Whom It May Concern” is a common question from those who infrequently compose letters of complaint or inquiry. This is a common salutation and so, it is important to get the capitalization right. Indeed, the confusion is quite understandable.

There is a difference in opinion even with leading style guides. The Chicago Manual of Style claims that every word should be capitalized. However, there was no citation or even Q&A entry to back this up. The Gregg Reference Manual addresses this issue in full and led us to our conclusion.

“To Whom it may concern” or “To Whom It May Concern”?

The rule for capitalization in salutations is that the first word, all nouns, and all titles are capitalized. This means that “To whom it may concern” is the correct way to use this salutation. This is the point that is made in the Gregg Reference Manual.

The only words that are capitalized on their own in a salutation are the first word or any proper nouns and words that are standing in for a noun do not upgrade that word to a proper noun. (This applies to the word “whom” in this case.) If this were the case then we would have to capitalize pronouns such as “he” or “she”. However, this is usually only done when referring to a deity and so should not be done in a salutation such as this.

In Conclusion

In this way, salutations follow identical capitalization rules as sentences. Although there is some debate as to the right way in which to use the salutation, we conclude that following the guidelines that are set out by the Gregg Reference Manual, “To whom it may concern,” is the correct way in which to use this salutation.

Having said this, it should be noted that this is simply an issue of style and so there may not actually be one “correct” way but there is still a standard in general usage.

Concern Synonym

agita, agitation, anxiety, anxiousness, apprehension, apprehensiveness, care, concernment, disquiet, disquietude, fear, nervosity, nervousness, perturbation, solicitude, sweat, unease, uneasiness, worry.

Future Synonym

coming, impending, imminent, forthcoming, destined, fated, prospective, to come, to be, in the course of time, expected, anticipated, inevitable, approaching, unfolding, eventual, ultimate, later, planned, scheduled, projected, on the schedule, budgeted, in the planning stage, booked, in the plans for the future.

Address Synonym

the particulars of the place where someone lives or an organization is situated.


  • inscription
  • label
  • mark
  • superscription
  • directions

a formal speech delivered to an audience.


  • speech
  • lecture
  • talk
  • monologue
  • dissertation
  • discourse
  • oration
  • peroration
  • sermon
  • homily
  • lesson
  • salutatory
  • spiel
  • disquisition
  • allocution
  • predication

write the name and address of the intended recipient on (an envelope, letter, or package).


  • label
  • direct
  • inscribe
  • superscribe
  • send
  • post
  • mail
  • communicate
  • convey
  • forward
  • remit

speak to (a person or an assembly), typically in a formal way.


  • talk to
  • give a talk to
  • give an address to
  • speak to
  • make a speech to
  • lecture
  • give a lecture to
  • hold forth to
  • give a discourse to
  • give a dissertation to
  • give an oration to
  • declaim to
  • preach to
  • deliver a sermon to
  • give a sermon to
  • sermonize
  • speechify to
  • preachify to
  • spout to
  • jaw to
  • sound off to
  • spiel to
  • drone on to

How To Write To Whom It May Concern?

  • Capitalize the first letter of each word.
  • Always use “Whom” instead of “Who” or “Whomever” (In the case of “To Whom It May Concern,” “Whom” is the object of a verb or preposition and is appropriate to use in this context)
  • Use a colon after “To Whom It May Concern” rather than a comma.


What Is The Correct Way To Write To Whom It May Concern?

When Addressing A Letter “To Whom It May Concern,” The Entire Phrase Is Typically Capitalized, Then Followed By A Colon: To Whom It May Concern: Leave A Space After It, Then Start The First Paragraph Of The Letter.

When To Use To Whom It May Concern On A Cover Letter?

Never Use “To Whom It May Concern” Or “Dear Or Sir Or Madam” Nothing Could Be More Generic (Not To Mention Archaic). Your Cover Letter Could Be The First Opportunity You Have To Make An Impression On The Hiring Manager, So Make Sure You Show That You Did Your Company Research.

How Do You Avoid To Whom It May Concern?

Top 8 Cover Letter Alternatives For “To Whom It May Concern”

  • Get Personal.
  • Incorporate The Organization.
  • Appeal To Department Heads.
  • Dear Sir/Madam.
  • Try A Hook.
  • Reference Your Referral.
  • Time Of Day.
  • First-name Basis.

What Another Way Of Saying To Whom It May Concern?

Dear Recruiter/Hiring Manager

Another Option Is To Address Your Letter More Generically To The Recruiter Or Hiring Manager By Using Those Titles, I.E. “Dear Recruiter” Or “Dear Hiring Manager.”