A good salutation for the cover letter: how to do it right?

There are many things you have to watch out for when you write a cover letter. Firstly, you naturally have to be careful that you present yourself well, but it is also important to send out a flawless letter to the company where you want to work. 

Because many people devote so much time working on the substance of their cover letter, they sometimes forget to use the right salutation for it. Are you writing a cover letter, and do you want it to be absolutely perfect?

Then read in this article how to get the salutation of your cover letter right.


The salutation of a cover letter: what’s that?

The salutation of a letter can refer to two things, namely the form of address in the cover letter and the cover letter’s greeting. The form of address of a cover letter is naturally always the formal ´you´, given that you are formally applying for a position you’d like to have. Most people get the form of address correct right away, but problems often arise in determining the salutation of the letter. Because many people choose the wrong salutation, which can result in missed opportunities, it is very important that you know what a good one is.

The importance of a good salutation

The salutation of a letter is the introductory phrase of a letter, such as ´Dear Mr Jansen´. Many people underestimate the value of a good salutation and choose one quite casually when writing a letter. However, this is definitely not recommended, because the salutation of a letter is the first greeting to the reader of your cover letter. This means that with the salutation of the cover letter you immediately set the tone for the rest of the letter, so a proper salutation is of great importance. Therefore, never just casually choose a salutation, but – in addition to the content of the cover letter - also concentrate on the first greeting of the reader.

The best salutation for a cover letter

The best way to open your cover letter is by means of a personal salutation. This means that you should not opt for ´Dear Sir/Dear Madam´, but try to address the recipient of the cover letter with his/her actual name. Often you will find this name simply by carefully reading the text of the job notice, but sometimes no name is mentioned there. In this case, you can use the company´s website to look for the name you need.

Salutation with unknown addressee

Did you try to discover exactly who the recipient of your cover letter is, but you still don´t know? Then you should start your letter with a general salutation such as ´Dear Sir/Dear Madam´. Addressing the recipient personally is better, but some companies simply don’t give any information about the recipient of a cover letter. In which case, go for a general salutation.

Salutation with unknown gender...

Sometimes you only know the last name of your cover letter’s recipient and you don´t know if this recipient is male or female. When you don’t know this, always use the general salutation ´Dear Mr/Dear Ms LAST NAME´; never choose one gender over the other, because the recipient may be a little nonplussed if - for example - your cover letter arrives on a woman´s desk and you´ve addressed her as ´Mr´.


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