How hard is it for you to look up someone’s name in this digital world we live in? Why will anyone refer to a hiring manager as “Dear Sir or Madam”?
Well, in this article, you’ll learn:
- Why this article wasn’t written for those that were born in the 60’s
- Why it is inappropriate to start a cover letter or a business email with a “Dear Sir or Madam” salutation
- 16+ alternatives
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Below is a college student resume sample we’ve created to help college students land their dream jobs quickly. You can also check out our gallery for more resume template examples.
Further Reading: How to write a college resume that won’t get ignored
What is Salutation?
According to Wikipedia, “a salutation is a greeting used in a letter or other written or non-written communication.”
For example, let’s say you are writing a formal letter to an HR manager and you don’t know the persons’ name, it is acceptable to start the letter with “Dear” followed by the person’s gender “Sir or Madam”.
If the person’s name is known, then it’s advisable to always use the person’s name e.g “Dear [person’s name]”
In general, when using a salutation, it is more of you sounding polite to the recipient, though, there are some salutations that may sound offensive or insulting to a recipient in this digital world we live in.
Recommended Read: Bad resume examples you definitely should avoid
When to use “Dear Sir or Madam”
“Dear Sir or Madam” can be used when the recipient’s name is unknown. The question is: should you ever use it?
The answer is FAT NO. A very BIG FAT NO. Hell NO!
Yes, we know you want to sound polite by addressing the recipient as “Sir” or “Madam” but this is 2022 and not 1922.
Let’s do a little research. Turn on your phone right now (if it’s switched off), tell me what do you see? My guesses are you see:
- Social media apps like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Google apps
- A default web browser e.t.c.
Now, let’s say you want to get in contact with CEOMichaelHR, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
- Head to Google and search for CEOMichaelHR
- Go to the contact or about us page section and look for our contacts
From our company name alone, you’ve already done 90% of the job. The other 10% is to forward the mail or cover letter with a resume or CV to us.
That’s the world we live in today.
There is absolutely no excuse or reason(s) at all to use “Dear Sir or Madam” as a form of salutation when addressing a formal letter or a business email.
What if you’ve browsed the entire web and still couldn’t find the recipients’ name, what do you do next?
Well, there are better alternatives to use and in this article, I will list about 16 of them.
“Dear Sir or Madam” Punctuation
Still, insisting on using the salutation? Well, let me show you how to use it correctly.
#1 Capitalize each letter except “or”
When writing a salutation with “Dear Sir or Madam”, capitalize each letter but not the “or” word. E.g. Dear Sir or Madam
#2 Use a colon or a comma after “Madam”
A colon is a punctuation mark used to precede a list of items, a quotation, or an expansion or explanation while a comma is a punctuation mark indicating a pause between parts of a sentence or separating items in a list. This is according to the Google dictionary.
The salutation using a colon should look like this: Dear Sir or Madam:
When writing it using a comma, it should look like this: Dear Sir or Madam,
“Dear Sir or Madam” In Cover Letters
A cover letter is a detailed document precisely three or four paragraphs attached to a resume or CV.
It gives the recruitment manager additional information on why you are qualified for the job you are applying for.
The question now is: Should you use “Dear Sir or Madam” in cover letters?
Your cover letter is your first expression to the hiring manager and you don’t want the person to have a bad impression of you before reading your resume or do you?
Be diligent enough to look for the HR manager’s name(s) and be polite enough to include it in your salutation.
Further Reading: The differences between a cover letter and a resume
“Dear Sir or Madam” In Emails
Starting an email with “Dear Sir or Madam” is simply not ok… yep, I wanted to say dumb but I do believe that nobody is dumb. We simply do our best with what we know.
Please and please, avoid the mistake of starting a business email (or any other email) with “Dear Sir or Madam”. It doesn’t speak well of you. It actually shows you are lazy in this digital age.
Always use the recipient’s first or last name when writing a business email. As. Simple. As. That.
According to Templafy, “each day, approximately 121 emails are being sent to the average office worker and he or she only sends about 40.” This simply shows that the attention life span of humans in the digital world is short. Very short.
If you receive 121 emails per day and the first 10 starts their salutations with your first or last name while the rest starts with “Dear Sir or Madam,”, which of these emails will make the junk box quickly?
Please, let me know in the comment section below. Thanks.
“Dear Sir or Madam” Alternatives
Wondering what to use instead of “Dear Sir or Madam”? Well, I’ve got you covered. Here are a few alternatives:
- “Good Morning”
- “Dear Recruiter”
- “Dear Recruitment Team”
- “Dear Recruiting Manager”
- “Dear HR Manager”
- “Dear [Job Title]”
- “Dear Search Committee”
- “To whom it may concern”
- “I hope this email finds you well”
- “Dear [Title]”
- “Dear [Department Manager]”
- “Dear Mr./Mrs./Dr. [Last Name]”
- “Dear [First name last name]”
- “Hello,[Insert Company name]”
- “Dear Hiring Manager”
“Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern”?
“To whom it may concern” is closely related to “Dear Sir or Madam”. If you’ve browsed the internet and still couldn’t find the recipient’s name, then please use the alternatives I’ve just provided above.
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