When And How To Use: To Whom It May Concern.

“To Whom It May Concern” is a formal way of salutation when writing a business letter when you are not sure who you are specifically writing to.

It is a gesture of respect and regard for the position you are writing to. 

Over the years, “To Whom It May Concern” has been widely used and is generally accepted. I bet you use it too.

But is it the best way of salutation?

Yes! “To Whom It May Concern” is now considered old-fashioned with a careless attitude.

It is because we are now in a digital world with the Internet at our feet. 

With the Internet, there are endless ways to search for the names and other necessary information we need, including the name attached to the position we are writing to. 

However, in a situation where it is impossible to get the name or information we need, we well may resort to using the traditional salutation “To Whom It May Concern.”

This article would be guiding you on how to use the “To Whom It May Concern” appropriately. 

Without wasting time, let us dive in.

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Alternative Options To “To Whom It May Concern”

There are alternative options to “To Whom It May Concern”. Some of these options include:

Search For A Contact Person

If you’re writing a business letter, it will more likely be read if you address it to a specific person at the company.

You’ll also have a person to follow up with if you don’t get a response from your first inquiry. Taking a few minutes to locate a contact is worth the time. 

Ideally, you will try to ascertain the name of the specific person you are writing to. For example, if you are writing a cover letter for a job application and do not know the name of the employer or hiring manager, do your best to find out.

Read also:  Reference Letter Sample For Employment

Make Research On The Company Website

You can research the company website for the name of the person in the position you are trying to contact.

You can often find this in the “About Us,” “Staff,” or “Contact Us” sections.

Suppose you cannot find the name on the website, try to find the right person on LinkedIn, or ask a friend or colleague if they know the person’s name.

Pay Attention To The Job Listing

Although this method is not always feasible, it is still another way you can avoid using the traditional salutation. To illustrate, if you are applying for a job, the name of the employer or hiring manager may be on the job listing. 

Enquire From The Employer

Another option is to call the office and ask the administrative assistant for advice. For example, you might explain that you are applying for a job and would like to know the hiring manager’s name.

If you take all of these steps and still do not know the name of the person you are contacting, you can use “To Whom It May Concern” or an alternative generic greeting.

Appropriate Conditions To Use “To Whom It May Concern”

As much as “To whom it May Concern” is considered old-fashioned, below are proper conditions to use the traditional salutation:

Lodging Company Complaints

One of the appropriate conditions for using the traditional salutation is when you are lodging a formal complaint. 

You care less about the recipient of the letter. What matters is that you have lodged your complaint which should be read and addressed. 

Writing To A Large Company Or New Department.

Another appropriate way of using the traditional salutation is if you are writing to a new department or large company with a complex organizational structure and aren’t sure who the appropriate point of contact is.

Considering this condition, “To Whom It May Concern” is appropriate. 

Recommendations/Reference Checks

Giving a reference or recommendation to a former colleague or employee is another appropriate condition to use “To Whom It May Concern.”

They do not expect you to research them or their company; they want your thoughts on the person you will hire.

The application may come through an automated system that does not include any information about the hiring manager.

Read also:  5 Tips For Your Job Interviews


Sometimes, it is confusing to introduce yourself to a new person you have never met via a letter. Ideally, this condition is another appropriate way to use “To Whom It May Concern.” Understandably, you have no idea or information about this person.


It is acceptable but inappropriate. If you are a retailer running a service, it is your job to set aside time and research to find out who you are contacting.

You should build relationships with them on social media. If there is practically no way to get their personal information, you may be able to reach “What May Concern Them,” but do not expect a high response rate.


What Is Another Way To Say To Whom It May Concern?

Another choice would be to use “Dear Sir or Madam,”
The salutation will similarly depict respect and urgency.

Should You Capitalize To Whom It May Concern?

You should capitalize the first letter of each word when writing this salutation. Also, use a colon instead of a comma after the greeting.

Is To Whom It May Concern Rude?

No, to whom it may concern is not rude.

It is the proper address to use when you’re uncertain who it is you’re addressing.


“To Whom It May Concern” can indicate a lack of effort in writing that does not set a good tone for all of your business relationships.

It could be avoided whenever possible, as it is particularly outdated, overcrowded, and sluggish.

With our access to the Internet today, it is much easier to find the details and other vital information of the person we wish to talk to.

Before you use “To Whom It May Concern,” consider alternative letter greetings, such as “Dear Customer Service Manager” or “Dear Human Resources Representative.”

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