24 To Whom It May Concern Letters

Many experts call it old-fashioned, out of touch, cold, stuffy, and many other negatives. Yet, despite the bad public opinion towards this type of letter, it still has its place. Even with the worldwide connectivity, there is a spot where it is needed.

Because of that, you need to learn how and when to write a good To Whom It May Concern Letter. The way to do that is by continuing to read this article. It provides you with the information you need to know.

What is “To Whom It May Concern”?

“To Whom It May Concern” is a salutation that is used when you do not know who you are to address your formal letter. If you do not know the name of the person that handles the particular issue you are writing about, you use this salutation.

It is also used after you have made every effort possible to find the name of the correct person who you should be addressing your content towards. Contrary to some experts’ opinions, businesses are not trying to be more natural or conversational. A professional business always writes formal letters in business formats.

When they do not know the name of the person they are to address, this is still the accepted and polite salutation to use.

To Whom it May Concern Letters & Emails

When to Use “To Whom It May Concern”

You use this greeting when you do not know the name of the person responsible for your particular concern. It is used at the beginning of the letter, an e-mail, or other forms of correspondence.

Primarily, you will find this greeting on letters of recommendation, job search inquiries, cover letters, or when you do not know the name of the person you need to contact to address a complaint or question.

It is never used when you know the name of the person you need to contact.

How to write a “to whom it may concern” letter?

This style of the letter is written in the formal business format, and make sure you do not indent any of the paragraphs of the body of the letter. Here are the style tips you should follow:

  • No heading – you do not need to put any additional information at the top of the letter except maybe the date.
  • Use Re:- you can use this after the date to either replace the To Whom It May Concern salutation or to let the reader know what your letter is about.
  • To Whom It May Concern- notice all the words in the greeting are capitalized as that is the correct format. It is your salutation and opening.
  • The body of the letter- this is where you can go into details of why you are writing. Identify the purpose of your writing your letter in the first line.
  • Closing- use the word ‘Sincerely’ as this is a formal letter, then sign your name above your printed name.

Each letter may be slightly different in style and it depends on the purpose of the letter and which organization you are sending it to.

Options for Starting a Formal Letter

Many people do not like the To Whom It May Concern, so you can use different alternatives and make the same point:

  • Use proper titles- you can say, Dear Sir, Ma’am, Miss, Mrs or Ms. & Dr., with no last name following.
  • Use generic titles- you can say, Dear manager, recruiting team, supervisor, president, general manager, or whichever generic title fits your content.
  • Use department labels- in this situation, you can write Dear recruiting department, human resources department, hiring team, promotion department, sales department, etc.
  • Say hello- then leave it at that, or you can use a synonym for hello also.
  • Use Re:- this works well as it states the purpose of your writing the letter.
  • Leave it blank- just open with the date and begin writing your concern.

How to Avoid “To Whom It May Concern”

The best way to avoid using this salutation is to spend a few minutes searching for the name of the person you should address your letter to. This can be done by calling the company or organization and asking the secretary who answers the phone.

Or you can go to the company’s website and look at the web page with the administration lists or the contact page for specific names. The ‘About Us’ page or the ‘Staff’ link should give you plenty of leads to follow up.

Some people may suggest using a social media outlet like LinkedIn but there are many companies with people who have the same name and it is possible to get the wrong one. Or the page was not updated and the person has left the company.

Options for What to Use Instead

If you do not like doing a cold opening using RE: or just the first paragraph, the best way to be taken seriously and show respect is to open with Dear and then give one or several titles.

Some women like the title Miss while others prefer Ms. and vice versa. But if you want a good response and be taken seriously, be respectful and polite. Or you can say Dear {the name of the person in charge of recruiting}, etc.

That should get your letter in front of the right person who can address your concerns.

Final Thoughts

Using To Whom It May Concern is not an outdated concept. It is the right business and formal greeting to use when you are not sure who you should be talking to. You do not want to be insulting to the reader of the letter, and it is sometimes best to go the ‘old-fashioned’ route than any new modern option.

There is nothing wrong with using that greeting except when you know the person’s name, or you use it in subsequent letters after being told the person’s name.

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