5 Ways To Find The Name Of The Person To Address Your Cover Letter To

I would spend hours trying to write the perfect cover letter.

Making sure to highlight my transferable skills.

Addressing all the criteria and using the exact wording, as outlined in the job posting.

Writing and rewriting to make sure it included all the relevant information in a concise manner.

And then, I would address my cover letter, “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”.

What an absolute waste of time.

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I never heard anything back.

I may as well have been sending a spam email to the hiring manager or recruiter.

Hiring managers get hundreds of emails and applications for any given job posting.

To a hiring manager, receiving an application that is not addressed to them is similar to getting spam emails.

I know that whenever I get an email or letter that is not specifically addressed to me, it usually gets sent straight to the trash folder.

So, it’s not surprising that the hiring manager is unlikely to read a cover letter or application that is not addressed to them.

If the sender cannot be bothered to find out who to address the letter to, why should the receiver read it or respond?

If a computer program can be designed to determine who to address an email to, surely someone with a PhD can do the same?

There was no excuse for my laziness when writing a cover letter.

Now, I make sure I never send a letter that is not addressed to a specific person.

While it can be hard, it is not impossible.

It just takes a little bit of problem-solving.

Since taking this approach, I have had a more positive response rate to my applications, and have even managed to get a few interviews.

If I was still addressing my cover letters, “To Whom It May Concern”, I would probably still be waiting for a response.

Why You Must Personally Address A Cover Letter

With more and more applications being posted on sites such as LinkedIn and indeed.com, there is a tendency for PhDs to complete an application without including a cover letter.

Often, PhDs use the excuse that there wasn’t a place to include it.

So many PhDs think that a cover letter is not important.

However, cover letters still hold a high level of importance in the job application process.

As pointed out in Science, 40% of human resources employees read cover letters regularly, while 60% read them on occasion and think they can be very useful.

While it may not be explicitly stated that you must include a cover letter with an online application, it is still a good idea, and will only improve your application.

A personalized cover letter will allow you to highlight your strengths and accomplishments.

Cover letters provide detail that you wouldn’t always be able to include in a resume.

It also gives you the chance to make a strong argument for why you are the best candidate for the position.

Cover letters can reveal work ethic and attention to detail.

One executive told Business Insider that she only receives a cover letter from 40% of job applicants and that only a quarter of those cover letters are tailored to the job description.

This makes it easy to weed out the lazy job applicants.

A concise but detailed cover letter shows the reader that you have a good understanding of what the job entails.

A well-written cover letter also demonstrates your passion and dedication for the position, and highlights your ability to communicate.

The cover letter is an important step for PhDs to prove that they have more value to offer than other candidates.

5 Ways To Determine Who To Address Your Cover Letter To

You may be tempted to address a cover letter, “To Whom It May Concern”.

But, this tactic will get you nowhere.

Writing a generic cover letter is a waste of time.

You must address your cover letter to the appropriate person.

Networking and getting a job referral will make this an easy task.

But in other situations, it can be hard to determine to whom you should address a cover letter.

Here are 5 ways to figure out who you should address your cover letter to…

1. Call the company.

Picking up the phone and calling the company is the number one way to find out the name of the hiring manager.

It can be easy to rely so much on technology, that we avoid or forget about using the phone.

Make a small effort, pick up the phone, and call the human resources department.

This is a very quick and easy way to determine who to address the cover letter to.

When talking with the HR department, mention the specific job posting, and the job post number if it has one.

This will help the human resources department know whose name to give you.

State who you are and that you are calling about the available position.

Indicate that you would like to confirm who the hiring manager is, and who you should address your cover letter to.

There may be a rare case when the person who you speak with is hesitant to give you this information.

Assure them that you just want their name so that you can address the cover letter appropriately.

Be sure to check the spelling of the name.

Some names can be spelt very differently from how they are pronounced.

The call should be short. You do not want to take up too much time from the person you are calling.

At the end of the call, remember to thank them for their assistance and their time.

Calling is the best and most reliable way to find out whom to address your cover letter.

2. Network with people who work at the company you want to work for.

Before a job you want becomes available, you should identify a few target companies and begin networking with people who work for those companies.

This way, you have a network to call on and ask for a job referral, when a job you want becomes available.

So, if you have been networking effectively, there is a good chance that you will have been referred for the position.

In these instances, you should be able to ask the person who referred you who you should address the cover letter to.

If you don’t already know someone at the company, do a LinkedIn search to see if you have any secondary connections.

In these situations, it is rude to simply ask someone you don’t know to give you information, and it is unlikely that you will get a reply.

Instead, you need to add some value to the conversation before asking for something.

Start out by mentioning the person you have in common and how you know them, and build your professional relationship from there.

This method does take some time, since you need to create a relationship before you can ask for a favor, which is why it is so important to already have a strong network in place.

3. Read the job posting thoroughly.

Unfortunately, a lot of PhDs only skim a job advertisement without carefully reading all the details.

Not reading the job posting thoroughly will set you up for failure.

You will miss vital information about the job description, and you may also miss the contact details of the job poster.

Contact details, such as a name or email, can be hidden at the very end of the posting.

You may find that there is an email, but no actual name.

Most staff email addresses include the person’s name or parts of their name.

A simple search of the first part of the email and the company should give you an indication of who you need to address the cover letter to.

Other information that is usually included in the description, is the person who created the job posting.

This is particularly true for LinkedIn job postings.

If the job posting you have is from another website, look to see if it has also been posted on LinkedIn.

Many companies will post ads across different job search engines to increase their exposure.

If they have created a posting on LinkedIn, there should be a name and profile of the person who posted it.

Be sure to look at their profile first, to make sure they are actually the appropriate person to address a cover letter to.

This can also be a good way to introduce yourself and network with individuals from the company.

4. Find out who your boss or manager would be.

Job postings usually include details about who you would be reporting to in that position.

The job advertisement may say something like, “the successful candidate will report to the director of medical affairs”.

This is your cue to look up who the director of medical affairs is at the company.

There is a good chance that the person you will be reporting to is the same person who you should address the cover letter to.

Do a LinkedIn search of employees at the company who hold that job title.

If the company is especially large, there may be more than one individual with this position title.

You can do some additional research by looking at their profiles to see each person’s area of expertise.

By using your excellent problem-solving skills, you should be able to determine the name of the person who you will be reporting to.

5. Do an online search.

Search online for the company and title of the position you are interested in.

This will show you if the position has been posted somewhere else on the Internet.

Postings on different websites can differ slightly, even if the advertisement is for the same position.

One posting could mention who you would be reporting to, while another may not.

In addition to third-party sites, look on the company website.

Many companies, especially large ones, have a dedicated jobs page.

The job description on the company’s own page can include more detail about who to contact, as well as more information about the position’s description.

More often than not, job postings do not include the name of the person who you should address your cover letter to. And, you may be tempted to address your cover letter, “To Whom It May Concern”. This will set you up to fail. Take the initiative to find out whose name you should put on your cover letter. Always call the company first if you are not sure who to address the cover letter to, and if that doesn’t work, you can try other tactics such as networking, reading the job posting more thoroughly, finding out who your supervisor would be, and searching online. When you do find out who you should address your cover letter to, you will present as a much stronger candidate and will be more likely to succeed in getting an interview.

To learn more about 5 Ways To Find The Name Of The Person To Address Your Cover Letter To, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Join Cheeky Scientist Association
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Gemma Paech, Ph.D.
Gemma Paech, Ph.D.

Gemma has a PhD in Social Sciences specializing in sleep and circadian rhythms with a background in genetics and immunology. She is currently transitioning from academia into industry. She has experience in communicating science to lay audiences and believes in sharing scientific knowledge with the public. She is passionate about educating the public about the importance of sleep and the effects of sleep loss and disruption on general health and wellbeing to increase quality of life and work productivity. She is also committed to mentoring students across all demographics, helping them reach their full potential.

Similar Articles

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 27th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 27th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 20th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 20th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 13th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 13th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

11 Most Coveted PhD Careers & Their Job Descriptions

11 Most Coveted PhD Careers & Their Job Descriptions

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

What is the difference between a Data Analyst and a Data Scientist? Well, salary, for one.  Data scientists get paid more.  Transferable skills for another.  Data Scientists have the ability to not only understand and communicate technical data, but business data as well.  In fact, they can translate technical data into business data. This ability to translate, to “speak nerd and normal person” as I like to say, is the differentiator for most of the top industry PhD careers available right now.  Finally, job candidates with Bachelor degrees and Master’s degrees only are often hired into Data Analyst roles, while…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 6th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 6th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Interested In The Top PhD Careers? Must-Use Keywords For Your 2021 Resume

Interested In The Top PhD Careers? Must-Use Keywords For Your 2021 Resume

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If you think employers or job recruiters are going to read your resume word for word, you’re wrong. The people reviewing your resumé are skimming at best.  Eye tracking studies show that employers only spend 5-7 seconds on a resume (HRDive).  Those same studies show that resumes are read in a F-shape, whereby employers skim the top one-third or so of the resume (the first horizontal bar of the F-shape), which is known as the Visual Center, then skim down the left-hand side of the first page and, if you’re lucky, the second page (the vertical bar of the F-shape). …

3 Torturous Parts Of A PhD Job Search (& How To Overcome Them)

3 Torturous Parts Of A PhD Job Search (& How To Overcome Them)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Studies show that 525 resumes are received for every open position but only 1 person will get hired into this position. PhDs chase one lead at a time via the outdated process of uploading their resume to a job site, when the process does not move forward, having to start all over again. Most PhDs never make it out of academia for long because they do not have the stomach for a high level job search. But You can be different. By leaning into the challenging, or tortuous parts of your job search, instead of avoiding them, you can save…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, January 30th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, January 30th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Looking For A Career in Data Science? This Program Can Get You Hired

Looking For A Career in Data Science? This Program Can Get You Hired

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Want to increase your eligibility for the top PhD jobs? Consider our Data Scientist Career Program. You’ll get everything you need to start your career. We have seen so many PhDs without industry experience and without data science experience getting hired into Data Scientist roles, while seeing many more fail to get hired into this career track simply for being invisible to employers, that we decided to create an Advanced Program dedicated to this career path. Our Data Scientist Advanced Program ensures that your resumé, LinkedIn profile, and interview answers appeal to top-paying industry employers. The Program will also ensure…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.

Dashboard Demonstration Banner