How do you address an e-mail when you do not have a specific person’s name? Onliners often run into this dilemma when job hunting and e-mail me asking what to do.
Most sites do include an employment section that details exactly what you should do. Read it and follow those instructions to a “T” to make sure you send your information as requested. Believe me, blindly sending a résumé to any address you find is not only ineffective but will also make clear what little effort you are willing to make.
Address the proper person by Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms. or Dr. (see the ongoing discussion on this topic on my earlier post “Dr, Mr., Mrs., First Name, Last Name”). Formality matters when job hunting as it is a sign of respect. Taking the premature liberty of addressing your contact by their first name lacks professionalism.
Many years ago before e-mail existed it was proper to use the salutation “Gentlemen”. Addressing those we do not know in that way today seems archaic especially since are we not always aware of gender . “To Whom It May Concern” seems better suited to a legal document than to correspondence.
I always recommend that you make the effort to find out the specific person’s name. Perusing the employer’s Web site may give you the specific contact information you seek and is better than a generic greeting where it is clear you did not make the effort to find their name.
When I get addressed as “Gentlemen” through any of my sites, I know the person didn’t even make the minimal effort necessary to find out my company is me. As far as “To Whom It May Concern”, that isn’t very impressive is it? Tells me you aren’t concerned enough to make the effort to find out my name! Generic greetings are just that and will never lend to standing out from the crowd.
What to do? If you cannot find a specific contact name on the site, pick up the old-fashioned telephone — make the extra effort to find out — and ask who to send your e-mail to. And it wouldn’t hurt to ask how they prefer you address them (Ms., Mrs., Miss). Simple!