To Whom It May Concern

"To Whom It May Concern:"

This phrase has become common to use on cover letters, but can be a detrimental mistake to make when applying for positions. Bonus points for using a colon and following the format for a business professional letter though!   

One of the main purposes of a cover letter is to show you have researched the company and have really done your homework. When people use the phrase, “To Whom It May Concern:” it sounds generic and lazy. Take the time to find out to whom the appropriate person is to address the cover letter, even if this means taking a few extra steps and investing a little more time. These steps may mean digging through the company website a little longer, or calling the company and asking who should be addressed in the cover letter. Using the clich├ęd phrase will potentially make readers question your sincerity and initiative in regards to acquiring the position. If you couldn’t find the means or time to get the correct name, will the company really want to hire you? 

Some other tips for cover letters are to infuse your personality into the writing. Keep it professional, but use this chance to incorporate a humanistic side to your documents. The resume contains the facts and qualifications, but the cover letter allows the reader to get to know you and what makes you a unique candidate for the position. Don’t focus on what you want from the employer but discuss what separates you from other candidates and what value you can add.

AVOID:  “I/My” Disease It is easy to begin talking about yourself and start every sentence with either “I” or “My.” Try to vary the beginning of your sentences while still maintaining simple and straightforward sentence structure.

DO: Try to find information about the company’s mission statement or values and how you will fit into its culture. Use language from the job description and confidently tell them that you are a match!

Come by the Career Center anytime to discuss your cover letter and any other career related needs.

Written by Sarah Hair
Counseling Intern in the AU Career Center

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