In writing a letter, you must have come across the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” which is usually a traditional salutation used in business correspondence when you don’t have a specific person to write to or don’t know the name of the person you are writing to.
Of course, endeavor to find a contact name for your inquiry letter, but sometimes that’s just not possible. In such cases, you can use “To Whom It May Concern”.
Table of contents
- What does the term “To Whom It May Concern” mean?
- Is To Whom It May Concern a great way to start a letter?
- When should “To Whom It May Concern” be used?
- When Not To Use “To Whom It May Concern”
- How to avoid the use of “To Whom It May Concern”
- How to Use “To Whom It May Concern”
- What alternatives are there to “TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN”?
- 1. “Dear HR Manager”
- 2. “Dear Recruiter”
- 3. “Greetings”
- 4. “Dear recruiting department”
- 5. “Dear [name of the department you are interested in]”
- 6. “Dear Sir [name of title or role of the person you are pursuing]”
- 7. “Dear customer service manager”
- 8. “Hello”
- 9. “Dear Search Committee”
- 10. “Dear [name]”
- 11. “Hello, friend”
- 12. “Season’s Greetings”
- 13. “Hello, [Name]”
- 14. “Good morning”
- 15. “Hello”
- Editor’s Recommendations
What does the term “To Whom It May Concern” mean?
“To Whom It May Concern” is a broad way of addressing professional or formal correspondence. It is often used when the recipient’s name or title is unknown, e.g. if you give a recommendation to a former colleague and don’t know the name of the hiring manager.
It is largely considered an outdated and lazy way of dealing with correspondence. The Internet gives us almost limitless opportunities to find the names and contact information of the people we need to reach – and good communication skills are critical to success.
Is To Whom It May Concern a great way to start a letter?
“To Whom It May Concern” is obsolete but is still sometimes used to describe letter greetings, and there are better ways to start a letter now. Alternatively, the message can also be written without a salutation.
If so, start your email or letter with the first paragraph or “Re: Subject you are writing about,” followed by the rest of the letter or message.
When other options don’t work for your correspondence, you can start a letter with “To Whom It May Concern”.
In case you choose to apply, it shouldn’t impact your application. According to a survey by Resume Companion, 83% of hiring managers said it would have little or no impact on their hiring decisions.
When should “To Whom It May Concern” be used?
Knowing when it is appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern” can be difficult, so here are a few scenarios when it is usually okay:
1. Contacting a large company or a new department
If you are contacting a large company with a complex organizational structure and you are unsure of whom to contact, you may need to send a message using a message form on the company’s website or email to a general address like “email@example.com “.
In this case, “To Whom It May Concern” may be appropriate. With this approach, we recommend asking for the right contact person for your request in the message text.
2. Recommendations/reference tests
Provide a reference or recommendation for a former colleague or employee. The request may come through an automated system containing no information about the hiring manager.
They don’t expect you to research them or their company, they want your opinion on the candidate they are trying to hire. This would be an acceptable time to address your audience with “To Whom It May Concern”.
3. Company complaints
Filing a formal complaint with a company? It probably doesn’t matter if that complaint reaches an administrator, customer service representative, or the CEO – you want your complaint to be heard and dealt with.
If you’re introducing yourself to someone you’ve never met, it might be appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern”.
For example, if you have received a request for a quote or information about your company via a general inbox or a feedback form, you can address your response with “To Whom It May Concern”. Just ask for her name in your message.
This is acceptable but not ideal. If you are a contact sales rep, it is your job to invest the time and research into knowing exactly who to contact.
Ideally, you should first develop a relationship with them through LinkedIn or Twitter – or get in touch through a mutual connection.
If there doesn’t seem to be a way to find your personal information, you might reach for “To Whom It May Concern” but don’t expect a high response rate.
When Not To Use “To Whom It May Concern”
Avoid “To Whom It May Concern” if possible. It’s largely out of date, stuffy, and lazy. With our access to the internet today, it’s pretty easy to find the name and even the email address of the person we want to talk to.
For this reason, “To Whom It May Concern” can show a lack of effort in the correspondence, which does not set a positive tone for the rest of the business relationship.
Here are a few tips to help you find the name of almost anyone:
- Ask your recruiter or recruiter – When writing a cover letter or email to a hiring manager, ask your recruiter or recruiter for the real name.
- Visit the Company’s LinkedIn Profile – At the top of the Company’s profile, you will see a hyperlink prompt that says, “Show all [number of employees] on Linkedin”.
Click this prompt to see a list of all employees. You should be able to skim the list until you find the person, role, or title you want to connect with.
- Visit the Company’s “About Us” Page – Smaller businesses may list all of their employees and their titles on their “About Us” or “Team” pages. At the very least, you can find a general corporate inbox to send a request to find out the name of the person you want to reach out to.
- Pick up the phone – call the company your prospect works for and ask the receptionist or administrator for that person’s name, contact information or advice on how best to contact them.
It may take a few extra minutes, but finding the name of the person you want to reach is important. Show your email recipient that their name is important to you and find them before resorting to “To Whom It May Concern”.
If you can find your contact’s name through your research, you want to be honest with them about how you found their information.
How to avoid the use of “To Whom It May Concern”
Find out when and how you can use “To Whom It May Concern”, as well as examples of alternative salutations you can use when writing letters.
Find a contact person
Ideally, you are trying to find out the name of the specific person you are writing to. For example, if you’re writing a cover letter for a job application and you don’t know the name of the employer or hiring manager, try your best to find out.
If you’re writing a business letter, it’s more likely to be read if you address it to a specific person in the company. You also have a contact person if you do not receive an answer to your first inquiry. It is worth taking a few minutes to find a contact.
There are several ways to find out the name of the person you are contacting. When applying for a job, the name of the employer or hiring manager may appear on the job posting. However, this is not always the case.
You can search the company website for the name of the person in the position you want to contact (often found in the About Us, Employees, or Contact Us sections).
If you can’t find the name on the website, try to find the right person on LinkedIn, or ask a friend or colleague if he or she knows the person’s name.
Another option is to call the office and ask the administrative assistant for advice. For example, you can explain that you are applying for a position and want to know the hiring manager’s name.
If you’ve done all these steps and still don’t know the contact’s name, you can use “To Whom It May Concern” or an alternate general greeting.
How to Use “To Whom It May Concern”
When should you use the term? It can be used at the beginning of a letter, email, or another form of communication if you are not sure who will read it.
This can happen at many points in your job search. For example, you can send a cover letter, letter of recommendation, or other job search materials to someone whose name you do not know.
It also makes sense to use “To Whom It May Concern” when you make an inquiry (also known as a prospectus or letter of interest) but don’t have contact details for a contact person.
Capitalization and spacing
When you mention the letter “To Whom It May Concern”, the entire sentence is usually capitalized, followed by a colon:
What alternatives are there to “TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN”?
“To Whom It May Concern” is considered outdated, especially for writing job applications. “Dear Sir or Madam” is another form of address used often, but can also look old-fashioned.
Sometimes it is just not possible to find a contact’s name. In those cases, here are some alternatives.
There are better alternatives for salutation when writing letters to apply for jobs or other communications when you don’t have a named person to write to.
Here are some options:
1. “Dear HR Manager”
When applying for a new position, it is not always possible to know the hiring manager’s name. If you can, find out with some good old-fashioned LinkedIn detectives. If not, this greeting is an appropriate choice.
2. “Dear Recruiter”
If you cannot identify the recruiter or gatekeeper for the position you are applying for, “Dear Recruiter” is a common greeting.
Save this for colleagues or business partners with whom you already have open and informal correspondence. It’s friendly and familiar, so leave it behind for more formal introductions.
4. “Dear recruiting department”
If you’re applying for a position at a larger company, your application may go to a large recruiting inbox. In this case, you are not writing to a specific person and may need multiple recruiters’ approval. This greeting ensures that you cast a wide net.
5. “Dear [name of the department you are interested in]”
If you are selling to a specific company department and unsure who your target buyer is, it is best to address your email to the department’s alias. It’s not ideal, but if you can’t find the right person to contact, don’t be afraid to send this greeting.
6. “Dear Sir [name of title or role of the person you are pursuing]”
Do you know the title of the person you are writing to? Hopefully, you can use this information to find their real name – if not; it’s an acceptable, if not somewhat distant, way of addressing them by their title (i.e.
7. “Dear customer service manager”
Whether you’re directing a message to a business contact or contacting customer support with a personal matter, it is wise to show yourself at your best. A more formal, respectful greeting will certainly be appreciated.
Are you already in the middle of a conversation with the person at the other end of your email? Open with a casual “hello” and continue your message thread.
9. “Dear Search Committee”
Perhaps you are addressing an email to a final buying panel or have made it to the final round of interviews for a new job. Regardless, if you need to email a group of people in one of these scenarios, this greeting works fine.
10. “Dear [name]”
It’s an oldie, but a goldie. This greeting is almost always appropriate. If in doubt, pull it out.
11. “Hello, friend”
Reserve this familiar greeting for non-professional email correspondence – keep happy hour plans and weekend BBQs in mind.
12. “Season’s Greetings”
Are you looking for a way to give your e-mails an integrative, work-appropriate vacation feeling? Dust off Season’s Greetings – don’t forget the apostrophes. ‘
13. “Hello, [Name]”
This is another less formal way to open up your correspondence. Save it for colleagues, co-workers, and business partners with whom you already have an open relationship.
14. “Good morning”
Are you emailing that you know will be read right away? The allusion to the time of day with a “good morning” or “good evening” is suitable for every audience.
Do you feel international? “Hello” is not common in the US, but it could enliven your email next Monday morning.
The internet eliminates many excuses for using “To Whom It May Concern”. Before you write it in an email, consider the recommendations in this post. And wipe out a few other outdated or lazy phrases from your vocabulary.
However, sometimes, try to narrow your focus instead of casting a wide web. Ask yourself: “Who does this email concern?” If you can honestly answer “Everyone”, you can use To Whom It May Concern.
But if you can familiarize yourself, be it on a person (Mr. Smith) or a department (admissions department), always use the more specific approach.
- How to Use the Salutation “To Whom It May Concern”- thebalancecareers
- To Whom It May Concern: The Quick and Simple Guide|blog.hubspot
- When to use “To Whom It May Concern” – Grammarly
- What to Write Instead of “To Whom It May Concern” | The Muse
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