In a job search, the email cover letter is your first chance to impress a hiring manager. The rules for addressing email cover letters are very similar to rules for the standard hard-copy cover letters people used to send in the mail. To address a professional email letter, keep in mind this is business correspondence and not a quick note to your family and friends. Email business etiquette requires a little more thought and attention to detail.
Skip the address and phone number. In hard-copy cover letters, you would begin your header with the recipient's contact information. For email correspondence, it's safe to skip right to the salutation.
Verify your contact's name. If the hiring manager is identified on the job listing, address your letter to that person. If there's no name listed, check the website for the correct human resources contact, or call the HR office and ask who to address your cover letter to.
Use only the person's last name and follow the salutation with a colon as follows: "Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. Smith:" This follows the convention of hard-copy cover letters, and it's the standard business correspondence format.
Double-check the spelling of your recipient's name. If you have the name from the job listing, check the listing for accuracy. If you've called and gotten the name from the organization, make sure the person you spoke with spelled the name for you. You can also check the organization's website to verify a name.
Tips & Warnings
- Always call to find out who to address your cover letter to. This shows the employer that you're competent and you pay attention to details. This can put you above the competition in your job search.
- Never address a business letter to "Mrs." or "Miss" as some women may be offended if you assume their marital status. It's always best to stick with "Ms." when addressing women in a professional setting. It's the female equivalent of "Mr."
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