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How to Handle a Cover Letter When Gender Is Unknown?

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Job hunting can be filled with challenges, and you may encounter an unexpected one as you are about to address a cover letter but cannot discern the gender of the recipient. This situation requires a little detective work to get the answer. Failing that, you will have to work with the information you have and address the cover letter accordingly. Think of this challenge as a test on behalf of the employer – and a test you will pass with confidence and precision.

Examine the name of the recipient. Those names that begin with an initial – “J. Thomas” and “G. Liddy” raise obvious red flags about gender. But so should gender-neutral names such as Cameron, Chris, Harper, Logan, Pat and even Leslie.

Look up the company’s website and see if you can find the gender of the person to whom you must address your cover letter. Finding a picture of the person is ideal.

Call the company and inquire about the first name or the correct gender of the recipient. If you are able to confirm the information, address a male as “Mr.” and a female as “Ms.” in your cover letter, both in the inside address and the salutation.

Dodge the issue of gender in the inside address by simply using the full name of the recipient, followed by the person’s title. The first line of an inside address with a gender-neutral name would look like this: Chris Luckman, Director of Human Resources.

Use the person’s full name in the salutation, like this: Dear Chris Luckman. It may look – and sound – a bit awkward, but it’s accurate.


Some companies now refer to a cover letter as “a letter of interest” or “a letter of intent.” The terms are interchangeable.