Personalize Cover Letters: No More Excuses For Not Having A Name
Case in point: that dream job at that awesome company you’ve been eyeing for a long time has FINALLY opened up.
But the bad news is that while you are all pumped up about pulling all of your career credentials together, you realize… “Oh crud, I don’t know the name of the hiring manager over there…”
Don’t despair. You can personalize cover letters.
Avoid resorting to the “easy button” nebulousness of the boilerplate phrase of “To Whom It May Concern.” That could be the death knell of your application.
You CAN find the right person’s name to personalize cover letters, but it requires due diligence, resourcefulness, and a determination to show that you are willing to go the extra mile to get this information.
Think of this situation from an employer’s perspective: They know darned tootin’ well that they didn’t include contact information in the job announcement.
So if you take the time to personalize cover letters, that’s likely to hit their radar screen and make a big impression that someone out there is resourceful.
Think of that personalization as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Here are some ways to dig up that ever-elusive contact information to personalize cover letters:
1) Hack LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a wealth of information… especially if you know about the well-known gaping loophole that lets you hack the full name of someone you are trying to address your cover letter to. Here’s a blog that outlines the specific steps you need to take to get this information.
2) Google “title” and “company” in a Boolean search. You’d be surprised how often the information is already online, waiting to be found.
3) Call the company directly… and ask. This requires a little fibbing and a little guts. “I wanted to write a thank you note for the human resources manager (or title that you are trying to find out). Could you provide the correct spelling of their name? I wasn’t sure I had it down correctly.”
4) Troll their website for the site directory providing staff titles/names. Many companies list all employees on their website.
5) Search other business websites. Sites like Spokeo, Jigsaw, and Manta also index people’s names and job titles at companies.
6) Research trade association membership directories. Research the organization that your target person would likely belong to, and see if you can dig up their name in a membership directory.
7) Leverage your connections to see if they know the right person. Don’t be afraid to ask… but when you do ask, be as specific as possible.
Everyone hates cover letters, but the more you put into them, the more you’ll get out of them. Take the time to try and personalize cover letters… you never know when that is going to make the difference.
Plus, it shows a dogged determination to get results. And employers like that!
Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is a Certified Advanced Résumé Writer and the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Clients from across the United States and Canada and from all career levels have benefited from Dawn’s highly-focused and results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Many professional groups as well as colleges and universities have appreciated the insights and expertise she shares during presentations on career management topics, and she is a frequently requested national speaker as a result.