When writing a letter, you must have come across the term “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 you have the person’s name do not know write to.
Of course, you should 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”.
Is To Whom It May Concern a great way to start a letter?
“To Whom It May Concern” is out of date but is still sometimes used to describe letters and there are better ways to start a letter now. Alternatively, the message can also be written without a salutation.
If so, just start your email or letter with the first paragraph or with “Re: Subject you are writing about” followed by the rest of the letter or message.
If other options don’t work for your correspondence, you can start a letter with “To Whom It May Concern”.
If you choose to apply, it shouldn’t have any impact on 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.
What does the term “To Whom It May Concern” mean?
“To Whom It May Concern” is a broadway 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It is largely considered an outdated and lazy way of dealing with correspondence.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 details of the people we want to reach – and good communication skills are critical to success.
When should “To Whom It May Concern” be used?
Knowing when 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 are unsure of who to contact, you may need to send a message through a message form on the company’s website or email to a general address such as “contact” @ Send xyzcompany.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
If you are providing a reference or recommendation for a former colleague or employee, the request may come through an automated system that does not contain any information about the hiring manager.
They don’t expect you to do research on them or their company, they just 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 just want your complaint to be heard and dealt with.
If you are introducing yourself to someone you have never met, it may be appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern”. For example, if you have received a request for quotation or information about your company via a general mailbox or a feedback form, you can address your response with “To Whom It May Concern”. Just make sure to ask for her name in your message.
This is acceptable, but not ideal. If you are a contact seller, 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 can 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” whenever 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 indicate a positive tone for the rest of the business relationship.
Here are a few tips to help you find almost anyone’s name:
1. Ask your recruiter or recruiter – if you’re writing a cover letter or email to a hiring manager; ask your recruiter or recruiter for the real name.
2. Visit the Company’s LinkedIn Profile – At the top of the Company 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 scan the list until you find the person, role, or title you want to connect with.
3. Visit the Company’s “About Us” page – Smaller businesses can 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.
4. 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 e-mail recipient that their name is important to you and find them before you resort to “To Whom It May Concern”.
If you can find your contact’s name through your own research, you want to be honest with them about how you found their information.
How to avoid using “To Whom It May Concern”
Find out when and how to use To Whom It May Concern and 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.
When 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 the 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 role 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 name of the hiring manager.
If you’ve done all of these steps and still don’t know the name of the contact, 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 other forms 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” if you make an inquiry (also called a prospectus or letter of interest) but do not have contact details for a contact person.
Upper / Lower Case and Spacing
Typically, when you mention a letter “To Whom It May Concern”, the entire sentence is capitalized, followed by a colon:
What alternatives are there to “To Whom It May Concern”?
“To Whom It May Concern” is out of date, especially when it comes to the application letter. “Dear Sir or Madam” is another form of address that has been used a lot in the past, 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 salutations when writing cover letters 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 name of the hiring manager. 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 these 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 with a larger company, your application may be sent to a major recruiting inbox. In this case, you are not writing to a specific person and you may need the approval of multiple recruiters. 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 department of the company and you are unsure who your target buyer is, it is best to direct your email to the department’s alias. It’s not ideal, but if you can’t find the right person to talk to, 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? Big! Hopefully you can use this information to find her real name – if not; it is 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 reaching out to customer support with a personal concern, 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 on 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 purchasing panel or have made it to the final round of interviews for a new job. Regardless, if you need to send an email to a group of people in any of these scenarios, this greeting will work just fine.
10. “Dear [name]”
It’s an oldie, but a goodie. This greeting is almost always appropriate. When 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 Greetings”
Are you looking for a way to give your e-mails an integrative, work-appropriate vacation feeling? Dust off the Christmas greetings – just don’t forget the apostrophes. ‘
13. “Hello, [Name]”
This is another less formal way to open your correspondence. Save it for colleagues, employees, and business partners with whom you already have an open relationship.
14. “Good morning”
Are you sending an email 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 a common greeting in the United States, 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 remove a few other outdated or lazy phrases from your vocabulary.
However, in most cases, try to narrow your focus instead of casting a wide net. Ask yourself, “Who is this email about?” If you can honestly answer “Everyone” then you can use To Whom It May Concern.