“To Whom It May Concern” has traditionally been used as a formal salutation in cover letters and other business correspondences.
It’s been around for decades, so odds are that you’ve seen it in one form or another. These days it’s overused (and sometimes misused) by people all over the world.
Salutations are your first impression with hiring managers or potential business leads. The wrong choice can make them feel like you haven’t researched the position, and a great one can set the tone for a great relationship.
By reading this article you’ll know exactly when to use “To Whom It May Concern” and when to avoid it like the plague. Plus, we’ll even throw in some handy alternatives you can use next time you’re on the fence .
Table of contents
Let’s get started!
Why people use “To Whom It May Concern”
People use “To Whom It May Concern” in business letters when they don’t know who the recipient of the letter will be.
When we meet someone (especially for the first time), we say a greeting before anything else. Since a salutation is a greeting, it is highly recommended in business letters.
Letters without salutations may be perceived as too abrupt, creating a bad first impression.
However, saluting the would-be recipient of your letter is trickier when the person’s identity is unknown. For example, you won’t know whether to address your letter to the Hiring Manager or the Human Resource Manager. Or whether to address it to a Sir or a Madam.
Thus, when the recipient’s identity is unknown, there is the risk of addressing the letter to the wrong person.
The “To Whom It May Concern” salutation was created to solve this problem. “To Whom It May Concern” is a generic salutation that can be addressed to anybody reading the letter.
Is it outdated/ old-fashioned?
“To Whom It May Concern” is now seen as an outdated salutation in professional correspondence. This is…