Nowadays, we communicate primarily through direct message and email, even in the workplace. In this era of fast-paced digital communication, letters often seem unnecessary and even antiquated.
But knowing how to address a business letter can go a long way when it counts -- like when you're trying to impress a hiring manager with your cover letter, or attempting to build a solid relationship with a new client.
In these instances, a poorly addressed letter can signal a lack of professionalism, or even apathy. To ensure you're leaving the best first impression, take a look at the proper way to address a letter.
How to address a letter
A letter should include your name, address, phone number, and email. You'll also want to provide the current date, as well as your recipient's name, title, company address, phone number, and email. We'll show you exactly how to format that information below.
How to Address a Letter
First Name Last Name
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
City, State Zip Code
How to Address Your Recipient
It's critical you address your recipient professionally in the letter, even if you know them well. To do so, include a Ms., Mrs., Mr., Professor, or Dr. title before their first and last name. If you don't know their gender identity, simply include their first and last name. Additionally, include a "Dear" before their name.
If you aren't sure who will receive the letter, do your best to figure it out. If it's a cover letter, perhaps you can email your recruiter and ask for the hiring manager's name, or do some research on LinkedIn. However, if you truly can't figure out who the recipient is, simply address the letter with one of these greetings:
To Whom It May Concern
Dear Hiring Manager
Dear Human Resources Manager
At the end of your letter, conclude with a "Sincerely". If the letter is hard copy, leave a space for your handwritten signature, and then below that, type your first and last name.
Originally published Nov 14, 2018 7:00:00 AM, updated January 17 2019