Is “To Whom It May Concern” an Acceptable Greeting? [Survey] #Article

Is “To Whom It May Concern” an Acceptable Greeting? [Survey] #Article

A fine first impression: 83% of hiring managers agree that having a cover letter "To Whom It Might Apply" would have little to no effect on their hiring decision.

No one hass to open a cover letter with "To Whom It May Concern" as much as so-called career experts.

If you were just reading job forums, you would easily come to the conclusion that hiring managers will take a look at your cover letter, see "To Whom It Might Concern," and throw your application into a paper shredder immediately.

Never use "To Whom it Could Concern" or "Dear or Sir or Mrs. "—nothing could be more generic (not to mention archaic). -- The Muse

But that made us think: there are countless job seekers who answer their cover letters this way — can't they all be unemployed, can they? We decided to see for ourselves if "To Whom It May Concern" was as problematic as it is presented online.

We surveyed over 800 hiring managers and recruiters to find out more about how seeing "To Whom It Could Relate' on a candidate's cover letter would affect how they viewed the candidate's application.

 The findings were shocking.

More than 83 % of respondents agreed that seeing "To Whom it May Concern" would have little to no effect on their hire decision.


That surprising number goes against what career websites (including ours!) have argued for years — that the opening of your cover letter needs to be tailored to the reader, or else it will kill the chances of having an interview.

It seems that how you start a cover letter isn't as important as we've all been led to believe.

Read on to learn more about what hiring managers think about "To Whom It May Concern" including:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Region

Age: Gen Z is the most likely to reject an applicant for starting their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

Imagine anyone who may refuse a cover letter based solely on it beginning with "To Whom It Might Concern."

Odds are, you actually picture an older professional, right? Somebody over 50 maybe? It seems reasonable, after all, that in the recruiting process, they will be the most attached to conventional ideas of formality.


However, our research has revealed that the most likely age group to refuse a cover letter based on its salutation is professionals aged 18 to 24 years:

The second most likely age group to refuse a general introduction applicant — perhaps unsurprisingly — is older hiring managers aged 55 to 64. And if you've seen a baby boomer, you 're still in part right.



Meanwhile, hiring managers aged 35 to 44 years worried the least about how applicants continue their cover letters.


Maybe less shocking was how results were divided by gender:

Gender: male hiring managers are three times more likely to reject an applicant for addressing their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” than their female counterpart

While the vast majority of both men and women agreed it is meaningless to use a generic opener for your cover letter, men clearly had stronger feelings about the issue.


If a man reads your application, you may want to take time to track down their name, since 6 percent of men — compared to 2 percent of women — replied that it is "very likely" that they will not recruit a candidate who addressed them in their cover letter as "To Whom It Might Concern."


Overall, 82 per cent of men and women agreed that using your cover letter with a generic opener will not necessarily affect your hireability.

However, depending on where you live in the United States, those figures look a little different.

Region: Midwestern charm? Midwesterners are the most likely to reject an applicant for starting their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

New Yorkers take pride in their pies, while southerners boast of their barbeque. It's no secret that every US region has its own distinct flavour.

New Yorkers take pride in their pies, while southerners boast of their barbeque. It's no secret that every US region has its own distinct flavour.

And it does not come as a shock that food is not the only place where the tastes of the Americans vary from region to region. According to our research, hiring managers can interpret your cover letter introduction differently depending on where they 're from.

When you apply for jobs in Boston or New York, you 're in luck: respondents living in the Northeastern United States cared least about whether or not a candidate is opening their cover letter with "To Whom It May Concern."

In comparison, 22 percent of hiring managers from the US Midwest agree that having a generic description on a cover letter will make them less likely to recruit the candidate. This means that when it comes to cover letter etiquette the Midwest is the strictest regional area in the U.S.

Meanwhile, hiring managers from the South and West are more in the centre, with approximately 80 percent believing that using "To Whom It May Concern" on a cover letter does not impact their preference.

Ignore the career experts. “To Whom It May Concern” is no big deal.

In the end? When you can not locate the name of a hiring manager, our research shows that beginning your cover letter with "To Whom It May Concern" isn't the career-killer that experts call it.


It's not yet the ideal way to open your cover letter though. But first make an attempt to find the hiring manager's name using the following methods before resorting to a generic introduction:

     Check the company website: See if you can find the hiring manager on the website’s “About Us” page, or check to see if they have a directory available.

     Search LinkedIn: Find the company on LinkedIn and browse through their listed employees.

     Search on Google: A quick Google search can help you track down the hiring manager, even if their information isn’t readily available on the company website.

     Contact the company: As a last resort, try just calling the company. Explain that you’re applying for a position and that you’d like to address your cover letter to the hiring manager.

Just remember that if you’re unable to find the hiring manager’s name, don’t worry. Chances are the person reading your application won’t mind at all, as long as you actually know how to write a great cover letter, of course!

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