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When and How to Use "To Whom It May Concern"
Options for Starting a Letter
When to use “to whom it may concern”, how to use “to whom it may concern”, alternative greetings to use, when to leave off the salutation, frequently asked questions (faqs).
Miguel Co / The Balance
“To Whom It May Concern” is a letter salutation that has traditionally been used in business “To Whom It May Concern” is a salutation traditionally used in business letters when the sender doesn’t know the name of the person who will receive the message. Although it’s somewhat old-fashioned, this greeting is still an option when you’re sending cover letters, job inquiries, or other business correspondence.
That said, you should make every effort to find a contact name to use in your letter. You also have other options. Find out more about alternatives and when it's appropriate to start your letter with this greeting.
- Before you use “To Whom It May Concern,” consider alternative letter greetings, such as "Greetings" or "Dear Hiring Manager."
- Do your best to find a contact person; doing so will increase the likelihood that your letter or email will be read and acknowledged.
- The first letter in each word is capitalized and the phrase is followed by a colon.
"To Whom It May Concern" is an outdated letter greeting. It is still sometimes used, but nowadays, there are other, better options for starting a letter.
One simple approach is to not include any salutation. In that case, simply begin your email or letter with the first paragraph or with “Re: Topic You’re Writing About,” followed by the rest of the letter or message.
When other options don't work for your correspondence, it's acceptable to start a letter with "To Whom It May Concern."
If you do choose to use “To Whom It May Concern” when you're applying for jobs, it shouldn't impact your application. A Resume Companion survey reports that 83% of hiring managers said that seeing it would have little or no impact on their hiring decisions.
Here is when and how to use “To Whom It May Concern,” as well as examples of alternative salutations to use when writing letters.
Here is when and how to use “To Whom It May Concern” along with examples of alternative salutations to use when writing letters.
Look for a Contact Person
Ideally, you will try to ascertain the name of the specific person to whom you are writing. For example, if you are writing a cover letter for a job application and do not know the name of the employer or hiring manager, do your best to find out.
If you’re writing a business letter, it will more likely be read if you address it to a specific person at the company. You’ll also have a person to follow up with if you don’t get a response from your first inquiry. Taking a few minutes to try to locate a contact is worth the time.
Check the Job Listing
There are several ways to discover the name of the person you are contacting. If you are applying for a job, the name of the employer or hiring manager may be on the job listing. However, that is not always the case.
Many employers don’t list a contact person because they may not want direct inquiries from job seekers.
Check the Company Website
You can look on the company website for the name of the person in the position you are trying to contact. You can often find this in the “About Us,” “Staff,” or “Contact Us” sections. If you cannot 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.
Ask the Employer
Another option is to call the office and ask the administrative assistant for advice. For example, you might explain that you are applying for a job and would like to know the name of the hiring manager.
Be sure to ask the administrative assistant to spell the hiring manager’s name. Then double-check the spelling on the company website or LinkedIn.
If you take all of these steps and still do not know the name of the person you are contacting, you can use “To Whom It May Concern” or an alternative generic greeting.
When should you use the term? It can be used at the beginning of a letter, email, or other form of communication when you are unsure of who will be reading it.
This might happen at many points in your job search. For example, you might be sending a cover letter, letter of recommendation, or other job search materials to someone whose name you do not know.
It is also appropriate to use “To Whom It May Concern” when you are sending an inquiry (also known as a prospecting letter or letter of interest ) but don’t have the details of a contact person.
Capitalization and Spacing
When addressing a letter with “To Whom It May Concern,” the first letter of each word is typically capitalized, and the phrase is followed by a colon:
To Whom It May Concern:
Skip the next line, and then start the first paragraph of the letter.
“To Whom It May Concern” is considered outdated, especially when writing cover letters for jobs. “Dear Sir or Madam” is another salutation that was commonly used in the past, but it too may come across as old-fashioned. It’s also non-inclusive.
There are better alternatives you can use for letter salutations when you are writing a letter and don’t have a named person to write to.
Here are some options:
- Dear Hiring Committee
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Team
- Dear HR Manager
- Dear Human Resources Representative
- Dear Human Resources Team
- Dear [Department] Name
- Dear [Department] Manager
- Dear [Department] Team
- Dear Personnel Manager
- Dear Search Committee
- Dear Recruiter
- Dear Recruiting Manager
- Dear Recruiting Team
- Dear Talent Acquisition Team
- Dear Customer Service Manager
- Re: (Topic of Letter)
You can also write a greeting that is still general but focuses on the group of people you are reaching out to. For example, if you are contacting people in your network for help with your job search , you might use the greeting “Dear Friends and Family.”
Another option for starting your letter is to leave off the salutation entirely. If you decide not to include a greeting, begin with the first paragraph of your letter or email message.
What is the best format for business letters?
Business letters are typically written in block format, meaning that the type is left-justified, with single-spaced text and a double space between paragraphs. Leave a few spaces after the closing to make room for your signature.
What are the sections of a business letter?
The sections of a business letter are the address of the sender, the date, the address of the recipient, a salutation, the body of the letter, a closing, and a signature.
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How to Write a Cover Letter to "To Whom It May Concern"
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Proper Way to Write a Cover Letter
Differences between a full block style business letter & a full block style with open punctuation, how to send a cover letter & cv by e-mail.
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It's frustrating when you are applying for a job and have to write a cover letter when you have no idea of the addressee's name. Although cover letters follow a fairly standard flow, when you're writing, "To Whom it May Concern," any uncertainty influences the confidence with which you send your letter and resume, explains jobs website, Indeed.com .
At any rate, you can still compose a professional letter that expresses a genuine interest in the job, including a brief statement about why your letter lacks a personal salutation and your concern about responding to a blind ad.
Start With a Professional Heading
At the top of the page, include your full name, city and state (you no longer need to include your full street address), e-mail address and telephone number. Follow your contact information with the date of your letter. Make your name bold face and a larger point size than the rest of the heading. Don't use all caps for your name, which can make it slightly harder to read.
Create an Addressee Block
When you don't have the name of a person for a cover letter, you can address the letter to a department or group. For example, you address the letter to "Human Resources," or "Executive Director Search Committee." The latter is often correct when you're applying to a small nonprofit and the board of directors is making the hire. Consider addressing your letter as "Dear Recruiter," instead of a very impersonal "To Whom it May Concern."
Follow this with the company name and street address. If you don't have that, use the name of the town if you know where the company is located. Look at the company's website to see if you can find an address for your letter, recommends Interview Kickstart.com .
If you have an address but know person as a contact, you can use the words "To Whom it May Concern" justified with the left margin. Beneath that, type the name of the company. If you know the name of the department, include that above the company name. Use the salutation, "Dear Sir or Madam" for your letter, rather than "To Whom it May Concern," for the salutation
Start Your Letter
If you feel the recipient might be offended or think it's odd you didn't use a person's name on your letter, apologize for not being able to send a personally addressed letter and explain that you attempted to obtain a full name. State this briefly, without an accusatory tone.
Once you've given a brief explanation of the way you've address your letter, move immediately to a strong opening sentence for your cover letter qualifications for interest. gives a brief statement about your interest in the job, where you saw it advertised and your qualifications.
For example, start your letter with: "I am very interested in learning more about the retail buyer position that was posted on LinkedIn. After reading the qualifications, I am confident that my skills and work experience are ideally suited for this role. I have 10-plus years of experience as a junior buyer, as well as a B.A. in fashion merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Los Angeles."
Keep Paragraphs Brief
Describe your qualifications and background in short paragraphs of two or three sentences each. Include significant accomplishments, such as measurable cost savings or increased productivity. Whenever possible, include tangible measures instead of words that don't suggest quantitative achievements.
For example, write: "I reduced purchasing costs by 20 percent each year during my five-year career with ABC Retail. I also generated increased revenue in southeastern stores by 12 percent each quarter during 2012." Where possible, use bullet points to help important information stand out.
End With a Recap
Write a final paragraph reiterating your interest in learning more about the job. Indicate that you're interested in a telephone interview and when you're available for a face-to-face interview. Express your appreciation for the reader's time and favorable consideration of your interest and qualifications
- Indeed: When to Use the Phrase "To Whom It May Concern"
- Interview Kickstart: How to Use 'To Whom it May Concern' - A Quick Guide With Examples
- Consider addressing your letter as "Dear Recruiter" instead of a very impersonal "To Whom it May Concern."
- Contain your enthusiasm about replying to a blind ad -- that's why it could be wise to say you're interested in learning more about the position instead of you're sure you want the job that was advertised.
- If you're unsure of the person's name and have been unsuccessful in obtaining the name due to an uncooperative operator or receptionist, be cautious about expressing too much excitement about the company.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
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To “Whom It May Concern” Cover Letter Format & Alternative Formatting
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How do you write a cover letter if you don’t know the hiring manager?
If you absolutely cannot find out to whom your cover letter should be addressed, you may use the classic “To Whom It May Concern” as a last resort. Although it’s not ideal, it’s still better than sending a note with no greeting—or worse, addressing it to the wrong person (which could happen if you blindly guessed the name of the hiring manager).
This is probably the most common—and therefore, least effective—way to address a cover letter. “To Whom It May Concern” tells the employer absolutely nothing about why you’re writing or what you have to offer. It’s best to take the extra time to research who you’re writing to so that you can offer a more personalized greeting.
When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to the company directly and ask for the name of the person overseeing your desired position. A little extra effort could go a long way in getting your application noticed.
What is the correct way to write to whom it may concern?
Here’s a tip: Always format “To Whom It May Concern” with a capital letter at the beginning of each word. Follow it with a colon .
You should still try to research the name of the person who will be reading your letter if at all possible
It’s always acceptable to use “ Dear Recruitment Manager ” in your cover letter, but if you want to be more specific, you could address it to the specific manager of the department you’re applying for a job with. You could also just address it to the department in general, like this: Dear Finance Department.
Dear/Hello [Name of Person Who’d Be Your Boss]
The best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to addressing your cover letter is to figure out who the person filling the open role would report to, which is generally your potential future boss.
It’s not just challenging; it may be simple at times: I was told that my new position would report to the editor-in-chief, for example, in the job description. I went to the company’s LinkedIn page, found the editor in chief, and composed my letter to her. However, it may not always be as apparent. Check out the company’s social media profiles and see who you know there to find out who it is.
Try to figure out how formal the company culture is while conducting your research:
- Whether to begin with “Dear” or “Hello” (or maybe neither—you may also use their name)
- Is it appropriate to use titles, such as Mr., Ms., Dr., Prof. , etc?
- Whether it is appropriate to use a full name or just a first name
If unsure, go formal. Make sure you don’t mistake someone’s gender with the incorrect honorific (if you can’t confirm it 100%, drop any gendered language and just use the name).
Even if you don’t have the name of your potential employer, ask yourself the same questions about formality and tone whether you pick one of the alternatives below or not.
How do you address cover letters when you don’t know who to address it to?
1. Dear [Name of the Head of the Department for Which You’re Applying]
Don’t worry if you’ve tried your best to figure out who your employer would be and have come up empty-handed. It’s not always feasible to discover that information at this point in the process.
You may also address your cover letter to a certain individual if you simply select the department head for the position it is applying for. Yes, it may be your prospective supervisor’s boss or superior, but you’d still be reporting to them up the chain in some way. It also shows that you took the time to consider what part of the firm you’d be joining and how you would fit in, demonstrating initiative.
2. Dear [Name of Department for Which You’re Applying]
If you can’t discover the name of a department head, you may address your cover letter to the team or department instead. For example, you might write “Dear Finance Department” or “Hello Product Team.”
3. Dear [Name of Recruiter]
But there’s one more way to reach out to upper management, and it doesn’t require you to know the name of the person in charge: writing a note to their recruiter or talent acquisition specialist (or head of recruiting). After all, they’ll most likely be the first ones to read it and decide whether you should advance to the next stage.
4. Dear [Whatever This Company Calls Their Recruiting Team or Department]
But if you can’t come up with a name, you may still address the team—just look up what this firm calls it in order to get something like “Dear Recruiting Department” or “Dear Talent Acquisition Team.”
You could also put the company’s name in there and make it “Dear Ivy Talent Acquisition Team,” so you’ll give a personalized first impression.
5. Dear Recruiter/Hiring Manager
Another alternative is to more generally address your letter to the recruiter or hiring manager by utilizing those titles, such as “Dear Recruiter.”
This is a good option if you truly can’t discover any specific information about who will be reading your cover letter.
6. Dear [Role for Which You’re Applying] Search Committee/Hiring Manager/Hiring Team
Can i write dear hiring manager on a cover letter.
Addressing a cover letter to the hiring manager is appropriate in most situations . It’s always better to include a generic greeting, like “Dear Hiring Manager,” if you don’t know the name of the hiring manager. It’s also preferable to use if you’re not sure of the accuracy of the hiring manager’s information. If the hiring manager’s name is nowhere to be found and the company is unwilling to give you his or her name, you should use ‘ Dear Hiring Team ‘ in your cover letter salutation. By addressing your cover letter to the hiring team, you increase your chances of getting it in front of the right pair of eyes. even then, you might want to be a little more specific by incorporating the role you’re applying for into the salutation. For example, you might say “Dear Account Executive Search Committee.”
At the absolute least, you’re demonstrating that you know what position you’re applying for and have done some degree of tailoring to your application than a “Dear Recruiter” would immediately reveal.
7. Dear Madam or Sir
This is the most formal way of addressing a cover letter without knowing the name of your potential employer. You might use this salutation if you’re applying to a very large company, such as a bank, through an online job board that doesn’t include contact information for specific people at the company.
The most common ways to address a cover letter when you don’t know the name of the hiring manager include:
- Dear Hiring Manager.
- Dear Sir/Madam.
- Dear Human Resources Director.
- To Whom It May Concern.
- Dear [company name] Recruiter.
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Don’t worry, you’re not alone! A lot of people find themselves in the same boat when it comes to addressing cover letters. The best way to go about it is by doing a little detective work. You can start by looking at the company’s website or LinkedIn page to see if they’ve listed any of their employees’ names. If all else fails, you can always call the company and ask who the appropriate person would be to send your resume to. Once you have that information, be sure to personalize your documents by addressing them directly to the hiring manager. It’ll show that you’ve put in extra effort and that you’re genuinely interested.
In today’s digital age, there are plenty of ways to get in touch with potential employers, so don’t let this obstacle stop you from applying for your dream job. Ready to take your job search one step further? Book a complimentary consultation with our team today!
Read also The Perfect Targeted Cover Letter
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve exhausted all other options, you may reach out to the company directly and ask for the name of the person overseeing your desired position. A little extra effort could go a long way in getting your application noticed.
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“To Whom It May Concern Letters”: A Simple Guide With Examples
The letter salutation, ‘To whom it may concern,” is a generic, somewhat outdated greeting with a rep for being a tad bit standoffish. But it’s still a relevant option in business correspondence nonetheless — especially when the name or identity of the recipient is unknown.
While it’s important to personalize or address the recipient of your business letters or emails by name, things happen, so that might not be possible all the time.
In this article, we shall discuss in detail ten appropriate occasions to use this salutation and when not to use it.
Let’s dive in!
10 “To whom it may concern” Letter Types with Examples
Many career experts have issues with whom it may concern letter salutation. Because of its bad reputation in many industries, you might think that using it in your correspondence would get you the side eye.
Yes and No.
According to this survey by Resume Companion , 83 percent of hiring managers are indifferent to using “to whom it may concern” salutations on cover letters.
However, following the same survey, this striking figure differs by age and a few other statistics; Gen Zs (18-24) and Boomers (55-64) don’t take well to such greetings.
Not sure when to use “to whom it may concern”? Here are the types of letters you can use it in:
1. Scholarship/Academic Reference Letter
You can use a to whom it may concern letter if you’re a college professor or an employer recommending your student or employee for a scholarship. This is appropriate because you might not know whom you’re addressing.
Ideally, in a scholarship recommendation letter, the subject of the letter comes before the salutation and, afterward, the person you recommend in bold letters. This should capture the recipient’s attention, as they will likely scan through the letter rather than read it.
See a sample scholarship recommendation letter below.
As you can see, the above letter follows best practices. It’s scannable with its use of bold font in the essential bits. This helps ensure the message gets across while maintaining formality.
Another instance where you can use this greeting is for academic reference.
2. Employer Reference Letters
Suppose you’re an employer or a supervisor writing a recommendation for an employee. In that case, you might not find any information about the hiring manager, especially if the recommendation request was sent through an automated system.
Besides, these companies would rather have your thoughts about the candidate they’re about to hire than fuss over whether you know the hiring contact’s name or not. That’s why it’s acceptable to use the “To whom it may concern” letter.
With this type of letter, the recommended can redistribute copies without doing a significant overhaul. After all, the letter is a general recommendation that is not addressed to a specific individual or entity but to anyone in an organization.
Here’s an example of this below.
Like the example we shared, your recommendation letters should generally include the person’s strengths with situational examples of what they can contribute to a company if they’re hired.
3. Sending Out Invitation
When you think of invitation letters, your first thought is a party or an event. But a letter of invitation, in this case, can be used to invite your friend or family to visit if you’re abroad.
For example, if you live, study, or work abroad and your loved one needs a visa to visit you, you can send a letter of invitation to the person. They can then show this letter when submitting their visa application to the embassy to increase their chances of visa approval.
Here’s a sample letter below.
You can write a to whom it may concern letter confirming your responsibility for the family member who wants to visit. The generic salutation is suitable for formal invitations because you might not know the exact contact person but still want to sound respectful.
4. Authorization Letter
Authorization letters allow you to delegate or grant authority to someone to perform a task on your behalf. Your authorization letter should state your name and position of authority, like a guardian or employer, while specifying the details of what you’re granting.
The letter has many uses. You can use it to authorize someone to collect documents on your behalf or to grant a trusted person access to your bank account.
The letter below authorizes an agent to do business with a U.S. government agency.
The letter opens with a title before the to whom it may concern greeting. It also features the name and position of the person authorizing the agent.
Bottom line, if you don’t know the person in charge who can grant the request in the letter, it’s okay not to include a specific salutation. The important thing is that the letter grants someone the authority to do business on your behalf.
5. Introduction Letter
It’s okay to use a to whom it may concern letter when introducing yourself to someone you’ve never interacted with.
Here’s a scenario where you can use the to whom it may concern salutation.
If you’ve hired a SaaS consultant to improve your company’s performance, and they suggested you partner with another company for a marketing campaign, you’d have to craft a proposal to be sent to that company.
Looking for names of people you should send the proposal to might be time-consuming. Plus, you’d be prone to mistakes because the person you include in your letter might no longer be working in that company. Since you don’t want to miss the opportunity to boost sales , it’s best to settle for the to whom it may concern salutation.
Another scenario in this salutation applies when you want to buy an eCommerce business but aren’t sure who exactly runs things. You can also use this salutation when replying to a business inquiry from a generic company inbox or a quote request.
Here’s a sample letter from a company addressing an unknown potential client:
However, to cover all grounds, ask for the recipient’s name in the body of the letter, as they might be your contact moving forward.
6. Formal Complaints
Anyone could lodge a formal complaint.
As an employee, you may find yourself in uncomfortable situations. Similarly, as a client, you can use a to whom it may concern letter to lodge formal complaints with a company:
It’s better to use the to whom it may concern salutation in these letters since you don’t know who exactly will read them.
Besides, in a way, the “who” is not so relevant here. What’s important is that you get your complaint across and that someone – whoever that is — does something about your complaint.
7. Guardianship Letter
A guardianship letter recommends people who will care for a child if anything happens to their current guardians. As a guardian, you can use this letter to appoint someone you trust to take care of the children if circumstances don’t allow you.
Because you can send this kind of letter to a courthouse or any legal body that handles guardian-related matters, you can open with “to whom it may concern.” Anybody in the office could also read it when it’s time to execute the instructions in the letter.
You can use a to whom it may concern letter when prospecting for potential customers. Using this greeting in your letters is logical if you’re contacting them for the first time and don’t know their names.
In the letter sample, a salesperson used the greeting when reaching out to a company that needs paper. It also highlights the benefits the potential client will get if they become a customer.
While prospecting letters is one of the few instances you can use this salutation, do not use it often. As a matter of fact, it’s expected that you do some research on your potential clients before reaching out to them to increase your chances of your letters getting read.
Plus, you can use tools like Hunter to get more details on your prospects.
9. Job Verification Letter
A job verification letter is a confirmation by an employer stating that a person previously or currently works for the company.
As an employer, you can use the to whom it may concern letter if the person asking for the letter doesn’t know the name of the recipient. Looking for the recipient’s name is unnecessary and time-consuming.
Here’s what’s important: that the letter confirms (or doesn’t) that a person was or is indeed affiliated with your company.
10. Shipment Confirmation Letter
You can use a to whom it may concern salutation to verify the authenticity of a person, product, or service.
For example, if you have an eCommerce or logistics business, and there’s a backlog of orders you need to distribute, you can use this salutation instead of names to be efficient.
The letter below confirms the contents of a shipment.
The shipment confirmation letter is also in the form of an invoice, so it works as an official document. It’s fine to use “To whom it may concern” since anybody in the concerned agency can receive your letter.
When To Avoid Using “To Whom It May Concern” Letters (Examples Included)
The thing is, you can’t use “To whom it may concern” in every letter you write because you don’t want to appear stoic and impersonal. Some formal letters need a touch of personality.
Here are some types of letters in which you should avoid using this generic salutation;
Cover letters are designed to set you apart from your competitors. The old-fashioned phrase “To Whom It May Concern” makes you stand out – except for all the wrong reasons. It’s stuffy and generally shows a lack of effort on your end.
Although you may not be able to find the hiring manager’s name all the time, there are better alternative greetings you can use — more on this below.
Plus, your cover letter may not get a warm reception if your hiring manager is a Boomer or a Gen Z. So, research the main hiring contact before applying for the job.
Check the email address you’re sending the cover letter to, a name could be there. You can go to your prospective employer’s “About us” or “Our team” pages to find the professional bio of the head of the department you want to get into. You can also contact the company to find the recruiter’s name or position.
When following up on a reply, it isn’t advisable to write a to whom it may concern letter. The reason is simple — you should have the contact’s name by then. Going for the generic “to whom it may concern” just shows you didn’t do your due diligence.
Address your recipient with their proper name or title in your follow-up letters or opt for alternatives like the ones listed below.
Alternatives to “To Whom It May Concern” Letters
Specificity beats generic anytime, any day. In fact, many people would rather accept a salutation with the name of their current position than an impersonal greeting.
That said, here are some alternative salutations to “To whom it may concern”:
- Greetings, [Person’s Name]
- Hello, [Recipient’s Name]
- Dear [Name]
You may also use alternatives like “Season’s Greetings” to add work-appropriate holiday cheer to your emails to subscribers , companies, and others. Salutations that are actual greetings, such as “Good morning [Name], or “Good day [Name], can also serve in emails if you know the recipients will read them right away.
Whether you’re looking for a scholarship, new customers, or are in a workplace, a “To whom it may concern” salutation is handy if you don’t know whom you’re addressing. It’s useful in different situations and a reliable option for showing respect.
However, only use the to whom it may concern letters in necessary circumstances. The best thing is to always do your research to find the name of your letter recipient before sending formal correspondence. Once you figure out the recipient’s name, you can use alternative greetings like Dear, Hello, and Greetings.
Follow this simple guide to get started on writing your letters. Good luck!
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15 “To Whom It May Concern” Letters With Examples
- Tom Clayton
- August 2, 2023
Years back, “To Whom It May Concern” was the traditional opening greeting in professional letters and other forms of business communication. Nowadays, you rarely see any begin with it.
The methods of communication we use today are more pointed than ever and relatively less formal. Modern communications are more conversational.
For example, if you want to send someone an email , you get their specific email address, and no one else will receive it apart from them.
With the internet, it’ll take little effort to find the recipient’s name so you can address them appropriately. “Dear John,” or “Dear Mary,” for instance.
In this post, let me share some of the best “To Whom It May Concern” sample template examples of how to use them correctly in your email or letter.
I will also discuss situations when to use them and when not to.
Also Read : Best Recommendation Letter Examples For Students
“To Whom It May Concern” Sample Letter Template Examples
1. scholarship letter of recommendation.
This letter example accurately portrays the use of the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation.
It’s a formal letter of recommendation and highlights the subject in bold capital letters. Meanwhile, the salutation comes after in sentence case and a regular typeface.
From the first sentence, the letter introduces the person it’s recommending in bold letters.
The use of bold letters aims to capture the recipient’s attention. They could easily skip the opening and start reading the body from the onset.
Most importantly, the letter maintains formality and only talks about the person it’s recommending.
Also Read : Polite Follow-up Email Examples
2. Letter Of Support
If, as a company or individual, you want to express support for some other company or individual, it wouldn’t be wrong to use a “To Whom It May Concern” letter.
As this example indicates, it’s most suitable when writing on behalf of a company or group.
First, it shows anonymity without portraying any individual as the sender.
Secondly, it shows that the support offer is the responsibility of every group member, with pronouns like “We” and “Our.”
Finally, the formatting is remarkable: it first introduces the intention and unambiguously outlines the support terms.
Check Out : Best Business Introduction Email Examples & Tips
3. Letter Of Confirmation
A letter of confirmation is not very different from a letter of recommendation, which makes a “To Whom It May Concern” letter suitable.
This sample is a letter confirming that a student was a member of a particular program for a specific duration.
The “To Whom It May Concern” salutation is appropriate because anyone can receive the letter.
The student who the letter is recommending may not need the letter immediately but subsequently. It’s a type of certificate that they can keep forever and present on demand.
4. Letter Of Investigation
This investigation letter follows a formal complaint and broadcast letter style. It’s not an employee making a complaint but a superior – a Captain in the Sheriff’s Department – requesting a company department to complete forms for a fraud check.
Such a delicate situation requires 100% formality, and it doesn’t get more formal than a “To Whom It May Concern” letter.
It expresses a lack of bias. Hence, no recipient will feel like they are a principal suspect in the fraud accusation. However, typical of broadcast letters, what’s most important is the content of the letter and not the salutation.
Explore : Simple Resignation Email Examples
5. Letter Of Invitation
Just like making a formal complaint, you can also make a statement, confirming or taking responsibility for something.
This sample letter of invitation is a model example. It’s a “To Whom It May Concern” letter addressed to an embassy, confirming the responsibility of a family member who intends to visit.
When writing such a letter of invitation to an embassy, it’s not entirely wrong to open with “To Whom It May Concern” since you don’t know the recipient.
If you do, it’s still not wrong because even if the embassy approves or rejects your invitation, the letter will remain in the records.
6. Letter Of Authorization
Here’s another sample letter template addressed to a government agency.
The letter authorizes an agent to undertake business matters with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
It opens with the letter title before the salutation. However, the subject draws the most attention.
The letter is brief, and, most importantly, it highlights the name and position of the person authorizing the agent.
Such a letter is valid for more than two years, which means the agent can use it multiple times. As a result, it’s suitable to not address the letter to a single person or office in particular.
Also Read : Best Counter Offer Letter Examples
7. Letter Of Notice
This letter of notice serves as a recommendation letter and formal complaint.
It doesn’t recommend a person or group but recommends actions employers can take to foster relationships with their employees.
It can also work as a broadcast “To Whom It May Concern” letter. You can use this sample if you’re writing a notice letter to a company where you’re not an employee.
Since you don’t work for the company, the recipient won’t expect you to address them directly. Hence, it’s safe to open with “To Whom It May Concern.”
8. Letter Of Complaint
This letter of complaint is from a customer to a company they patronize. However, it can also work if you’re an employee wanting to make an internal complaint.
Notably, it’s a pointed letter. Although there’s no bolded or capitalized subject, the first paragraph clearly states who the complainer is and the complaint.
The subsequent paragraphs explain the background behind the complaint.
No matter the complaint, it’s ideal not to sound overly dismissive. Hence, the closing paragraph expresses a sense of understanding and hope that the superior will handle the matter accordingly.
Also Read : What To Include In A Cover Letter For A Job ?
9. Broadcast Letter Sample
You can use this sample when informing a group rather than an individual. The letter addresses an association of teachers to notify them of a large donation to support a joint project.
Although the name and contact details of the association are available, the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation is still appropriate, as anyone can read it.
For instance, the association may send copies of the letter to its different members. Alternatively, one member can read it to the hearing of everyone in a meeting.
Whichever method, the letter doesn’t address anyone in particular but the group as a whole.
10. Guardianship Letter
A guardianship letter recommends prospective guardians who will look over a child or ward should anything happen to their current guardians.
As a result, the recommended guardian won’t use the letter immediately but sometime in the future.
Such a letter is also usually sent to a courthouse or a different legal body that handles guardian-related matters. With all of these, you can open with “To Whom It May Concern,” just like in this sample.
When it’s time to effect the letter, anybody in the office could read it. Hence, you don’t need a direct salutation.
Also Read : Best Memo Examples
11. Prospect Letter
As mentioned earlier, writing prospect letters is one of the few instances when you can use the “To Whom It May Concern” format.
In this sample, a company is reaching out to other companies and requesting their support in a project.
The project details are of uttermost importance, and the sample letter explains every detail extensively.
From the onset, the aim of the letter is apparent. In addition, it doesn’t fail to state how the companies that decide to support will benefit.
Furthermore, the letter outlines specifically ideal amounts that the companies can donate. It has all the features of a converting “To Whom It May Concern” prospect letter.
12. Expectation Letter
When sending out expectation letters to multiple participants, you can use a “To Whom It May Concern” letter. It’s a form of broadcasting.
The sample letter outlines the expectations of employers, students, and schools who elect to be part of a training program.
The letter opens with a “To Whom It May Concern” salutation and immediately thanks and congratulates the participants. As a result, recipients can still feel special as it shows the sender values them.
The first paragraph further explains the purpose and overall goal of the project for each participant.
Also Read : Best Resignation Email Subject Line Examples
13. Self-recommendation Letter Format
Here’s a sample to use if you’re writing a self-recommendation letter.
The letter is short and brief, featuring only three main paragraphs after the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation.
The “To Whom It May Concern” salutation shows that the sender didn’t have any particular company in mind.
Instead, they can submit copies of the letter to different companies. The takeaway from this sample letter is the details.
It highlights the primary strengths of the person it’s recommending. It also highlights what they can contribute should the company hire them.
14. “To Whom It May Concern” Letter For Employee
If you’re an employer and your employee requests a job verification letter, you can issue a “To Whom It May Concern” business letter. It could be inconvenient to ask them who the letter is for or why they need it.
Employees usually request job verification letters when they want to leave a company. However, they may not want to tell you who their new employer is.
With this business letter, it doesn’t matter who the letter is for or why they need it; they could submit it to anyone.
This sample is ideal for such job verification letters. It’s perfect if the employee holds multiple positions in the company.
Also Read : LinkedIn Recommendation Examples
15. Shipment Confirmation Letter
This sample is a shipment confirmation letter confirming the contents of a particular shipment. Such letters aim to verify the authenticity of a specific person, product, service, or other. It’s similar to the previous job verification letter.
The letter could work as an official document since it’s in the form of an invoice. As a result, it’ll be wrong to address it to a particular person, using “Dear Madam/Sir” or similar.
When To Use “To Whom It May Concern”
Now that we have seen some great examples of “To Whom It May Concern” letters, we’ll be itching to use them. However, in the first place, it’s important to know when to use “To Whom It May Concern” and when not.
Here are a few instances when using “To Whom It May Concern” may be appropriate:
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If your friend, colleague, or other acquaintance is applying for a new job or trying to get into college, they may ask you to write a recommendation on their behalf.
You don’t know who will receive and read the email or the letter. It could be the HR manager, the deputy, a CEO, or other department superiors if it’s a job.
For college, it could be the department chair, a head professor, or any member of the graduate admissions committee.
Likewise, whoever reads the email or the letter will be less concerned about how you open or your salutation. The recipient isn’t interested in you but the person you’re recommending.
As a result, it won’t be unfitting to begin your letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”
In business, you get to introduce yourself often. Most times, it’s to people you’ve never met.
For example, an anonymous individual or company may contact you for a quote or any other profitable business prospect.
If you’re an interest-driven marketer or company, you wouldn’t want to overlook any opportunity to increase your clientele.
Hence, when you receive such anonymous prospects, you should reply, even if you don’t know much about who’s contacting you.
In such a situation, it’s safe to take a general approach like opening your email or letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”
In your letter, you can request to know more about the individual or company so you can address them appropriately next time.
Previously, you received an introductory letter from an anonymous individual or company. The situation is not very different if you were the one sending out a prospecting letter.
However, opening with “To Whom It May Concern” in email or prospect letters is only ideal when you don’t have specific recipients in mind.
Often, with automated marketing campaigns, you may send out prospect emails or letters to many random prospective clients.
Most recipients won’t mind that you open your email or your letter with “To Whom It May Concern” because you’re also anonymous to them.
If the content of your letter is encouraging, they’ll most likely respond.
However, if you can find out more about your prospective clients, it’s better to address them appropriately when sending prospects.
As an employee, you can come across different situations in your workplace that you find inconvenient.
The best thing to do is to make a formal complaint. Any superior in your company can read your complaint letter.
It could be the head of your department, customer service, some administrator, or even the CEO. It depends on the issues you’re addressing in your letter.
The most important thing for anyone that reads your letter is your complaints. Some readers may skip the opening entirely and go straight to the body of the letter.
Perhaps you’re the head of a department, and you want to make a complaint to your subordinates about something you don’t like. You can issue a general complaint letter and open it with “To Whom It May Concern.”
A broadcast letter is always the go-to when contacting a large and complex audience.
Usually, these letters aim to inform the audience of something they may or may not find interesting. In other words, your recipient may take action or not.
As a result, broadcast letters typically contain in-depth information.
For example, you may be informing companies that you are open for employment or your clients that a product is no longer available.
Like the other instances previously mentioned, the details matter the most in your broadcast letter. How you open would be less notable.
When Not To Use “To Whom It May Concern”
There are instances when you should never use a “To Whom It May Concern”. These include:
Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels
When applying for a job, your cover letter could decide your chances. You don’t want to open your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”
Using such a salutation could suggest that you’re nonchalant. Showing interest in the company is necessary when seeking a job.
Hence, you should endeavor to find out who receives your cover letter and address it correctly.
If you’re sending your cover letter via email – which is most likely – you can get a hint of who reads the letter from the email address.
Generally, opening with “Dear” is the industry standard. “Dear Sir/Madam,” is ok.
However, if you know who receives and reads your cover letter, you can open with formal greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiting Manager.”
You write an inquiry letter to learn or get information about something.
For example, you may write to a company to inquire how much a service costs or to a customer to collect their delivery details.
In both instances, your opening needs to be specific because you don’t want the recipient to ignore your letter.
The recipients need to know that they alone can provide the answers to your inquiry. Opening with “To Whom It May Concern” shows that the letter could be for anyone and not them in particular.
Usually, people send inquiry letters to recipients they’re not acquainted with or are contacting for the first time.
Nevertheless, if you want a response, you should open with something better like a simple “Sir/Madam.”
It’s ok to send your recommendation letter, introductory letter, prospect letter, or formal complaint with “To Whom It May Concern.”
However, if you get a reply and you’re to send a follow-up letter, you should drop the “To Whom It May Concern.”
You most likely included your name and contact details in your first letter. With this information, your recipient should address you adequately in their reply letter.
You can then use the specific person information and address them accordingly in return in your follow-up letter.
Even if they do not, sending a follow-up with a “To Whom It May Concern” greeting is unwelcoming. It could suggest to the recipient that you don’t want to communicate.
As an employee, you may need to send reports to your superiors from time to time.
It’s not only unprofessional to address your superiors using “To Whom It May Concern,” but it’s also disrespectful.
Reports in letter form are usually requested. Therefore, it shouldn’t take much effort to find out who receives the letter and address them accordingly.
When you address the recipient correctly, it indicates to them that you carefully prepared your report. It’ll be easier for them to trust what you’re reporting.
You could be sending out report letters to multiple recipients. You can use a general “Dear Sir/Madam” salutation in such a situation.
Also, you can be creative. For example, if your recipients are the board of directors, you can open with a greeting like “Dear Members Of The Board.”
Usually, someone writes a recommendation letter on behalf of another person. However, there are instances when you could write a self-recommendation letter.
If you’re in school, you could write a self-recommendation letter recommending yourself for a scholarship.
In a business setting, you could self-recommend yourself for a new position in your current company. Another typical instance is recommending yourself for transfer to a new branch.
In this kind of business correspondence, the recipient of the letter could forgive someone writing on your behalf if they open with “To Whom It May Concern.” However, for a self-recommendation letter, it’s unsuitable.
Opening with “To Whom It May Concern,” when self-recommending for a new job position could appear like a demand.
You should address the recipient or group of recipients by their title and name, respectively.
“To Whom It May Concern” Alternative Greetings Here are a few alternatives that you may use in place of “To Whom It May Concern” in your email or letter: Dear Hiring Manager Dear Recruiter Greetings Dear Recruiting Department Dear [Name of department you’re interested in] Dear [Name of the title or role of the person you’re pursuing] Dear Customer Service Manager Dear Customer Service Department Dear Human Resources Department Hello Dear Search Committee Dear [Name] Hi Friend Season’s Greetings Hello There [Name] Good Morning Good Day Dear Personnel manager Dear Customer Service Associate Dear Administrative assistant
If you must open a letter with “To Whom It May Concern”, make sure the first letter of each word is capitalized, and the phrase is followed by a colon. Also make sure that it’s in the right setting and that the letter is well written.
You can follow the tips in this post to ensure you’re doing it right. Ultimately, you can model the outlined letter template examples.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.