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How to Start, End and Address a Cover Letter

It's crucially important that you know how to start, end and address your cover letter, otherwise you'll look very unprofessional - not something you want to convey to a potential employer.

Getting these completely wrong could even cost you job interviews, as it makes you look like an uneducated idiot who can't even get the basics of letter writing right and will make an employer wonder what else you are lacking.

Below, you'll learn the fundamentals, including when you should start with 'Dear Sir / Madam' and when you should end with 'Yours sincerely'.

If you'd like to drastically improve your CV and cover letter, then you should consider our professional CV writing service, which can expertly write a CV and cover letter for you that will win you the interviews you want.

How to Start a Cover Letter

Learning how to start a cover letter correctly will instantly create a good impression and show that you know how to address a letter.

If you know the full name and title of the person you are writing your cover letter to, then you can start your covering letter with their title (Mr, Mrs, Ms, Miss, Dr), followed by their surname. For example: you could be start a letter 'Dear Mr Kumar' or 'Dear Mrs Williams'.

When you are writing to someone you already know well, you can start your cover letter with their first name. So, if their name was Mrs Sarah Williams, you could start your covering letter with 'Dear Sarah'.

If you don't know the name of the person to address your cover letter to (perhaps it just said in the job advert 'send your CV and cover letter to the HR Manager'), then it might be a good idea to find out by ringing up and asking who the letter should be addressed to.

When a recruitment agency advertises on behalf of an employer, they often list a reference number, which means that you can telephone them to ask who the reference number relates to.

If you really can't find out the name of a person to address your cover letter to, then you'll have to just put: 'Dear Sir / Madam' or 'Dear Sir or Madam'. Make sure that you don't add an 'e' on the end of 'Madam'.

How to Address a Cover Letter to a Woman

When you're addressing a cover letter to a woman, it's important that you get her title right - does she prefer Mrs, Ms or Miss? Get this wrong and it's possible she may be offended.

Her title may be listed in the job advert, but what do you do if it just says write to Sarah Williams? Do you start your covering letter 'Dear Sarah' or 'Dear Ms Williams' or 'Dear Mrs Williams'?

If you are able to, it would be a good idea to find out precisely how she likes to be addressed, plus it will demonstrate that you can use your own initiative!

It's easy to call an employer (or recruitment agency) to find out how she likes to be addressed. All you need to say is that you are writing a letter to Sarah Williams and would like to know whether she prefers to be addressed as Mrs, Ms or Miss.

How to End a Cover Letter

You either end your cover letter with 'Yours sincerely' or 'Yours faithfully', depending on how you started your cover letter.

You need to get this right, otherwise you'll look incompetent.

If you started your cover letter with a named individual (e.g. 'Dear Sarah'), then you end your covering letter with 'Yours sincerely'.

Note that 'Yours' starts with an uppercase 'Y' and 'sincerely' starts with a lowercase 's'. Don't start 'sincerely' with a capital 'S' as some people mistakenly do.

If you started your covering letter with 'Dear Sir / Madam', then you end your cover letter with: 'Yours faithfully'. Again, it should be noted that you start 'Your' with a capital 'Y' and 'faithfully' with a small 'f'. You see some people mistakenly use a capital 'F' when it should be lowercase 'f'.

How to Address a Cover Letter

Above we've already discussed how to start and end your covering letter, but you also need to think about where you should put your address and the employer's address.

Normally, you would put your own address at the very top of the cover letter. You can either centre your address or align it to the right-hand side. You should also add your mobile phone number and email address.

You should put today's date in the covering letter - after your address on the right-hand side is a good place to put it.

The name of the person you are writing the cover letter to should be on the left-hand side listed below your own address, for example:

   Mrs Sarah Williams,
   CPD Chemicals Ltd,
   23 Longheath Road,
   Shearwater,
   Essex,
   ES24 6GX.

Thoroughly check that your own contact details and those of the employer / recruitment agency you are writing to are correct. Any errors or omissions will look sloppy and getting your own phone number or email address wrong could cause you to miss out on job interviews.

Please take a look at our example cover letter to see how to set out a cover letter.

In Summary

It's vital that you correctly address your letter, and that you start and end your cover letter in the right way.

Remember, that if you start your covering letter with 'Mrs Williams', you should end it with 'Yours sincerely'. Whilst if you start it with 'Dear Sir / Madam', then you end it with 'Yours faithfully'.

When you're writing to a woman, make sure that you find out how she likes to be addressed: Mrs, Ms or Miss.


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