Is “To Whom It May Concern” Acceptable on a Cover Letter?

Is “To Whom It May Concern” Acceptable on a Cover Letter?

For years, career experts have warned against using “To Whom It May Concern” on a cover letter,” claiming that it will hurt your chances of getting an interview. 

But whether out of ignorance or necessity (simply being unable to find the hiring manager’s name), countless job-seekers still use generic cover letter openers like this and land the job. That begs the question: does opening your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” actually impact your chances of getting hired?

To determine the answer, Resume Companion conducted a formal survey. They polled over 1,000 hiring managers from all parts of the US, asking them whether or not seeing “To Whom It May Concern” on an applicant’s cover letter would impact their hiring decision.

The results speak for themselves: more than 83% of respondents affirmed that coming across “To Whom It May Concern” on a candidate’s cover letter would have little or no impact on their decision to interview that person.

This result refutes what career blogs still claim to this day: that if you don’t want to hurt your job prospects, you must personalize your cover letter and address the reader by their name.
However, the results were different depending on several factors. For instance, hiring managers disagreed about “To Whom It May Concern” based on their gender, age, and even location. To learn where the hiring managers you’re likely to encounter fall on the spectrum, take a look at the full To Whom It May Concern survey and dive into the data for yourself.

Lauren McAdams

Lauren McAdams is a hiring manager, career consultant, and lead writer at Resume Companion. Her career and resume advice have been featured on sites like Forbes, Huffington Post, TechRepublic, Harvard Business Review, and Ladders.

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