A reader writes:
I am a new graduate looking for my first job and have spent hours on your site learning to become the best candidate. My question is, should I call a company to find out the name of the HR Manager when its not provided so I can address my cover letter to that person? Many people seem to be offering the advice that is shows initiative and attention to detail. However, I am of the belief that it is a waste of their time and my resume will get to where it needs to go, especially because I am applying to small 10-30 employee companies and often submit my resume to the specific email address listed.
I’m so glad you asked this, because I see that advice all over the place too and I always wonder why it’s emphasized so much.
If the hiring manager’s name is easily available, sure, go ahead and address it to her. But calling to find out is overkill. It just doesn’t matter that much.
I’ve never once thought, “Oh wow, this person took the trouble to call and find out my name. What amazing initiative!” And I’ve also never once thought, “I can’t believe this person didn’t bother to address this letter to me by name. What a slacker.” It is an issue if they inject a mistake in there though, like misspelling my name (lack of attention to detail) or addressing it to someone who deals with a whole different area (comprehension problems).
So do it if it’s easily available, but don’t spend time on it if it’s not. I’d much rather you put that time into crafting an awesome cover letter and not worrying so much about what name to open with.