Years back, “To Whom It May Concern” was the traditional opening greeting in professional letters and other forms of business communication. Nowadays, you rarely see any begin with it.
The methods of communication we use today are more pointed than ever and relatively less formal. Modern communications are more conversational.
For example, if you want to send someone an email, you get their specific email address, and no one else will receive it apart from them.
With the internet, it’ll take little effort to find the recipient’s name so you can address them appropriately. “Dear John,” or “Dear Mary,” for instance.
In this post, let me share some of the best “To Whom It May Concern” sample template examples of how to use them correctly in your email or letter.
I will also discuss situations when to use them and when not to.
“To Whom It May Concern” Sample Letter Template Examples
1. Scholarship Letter Of Recommendation
This letter example accurately portrays the use of the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation.
It’s a formal letter of recommendation and highlights the subject in bold capital letters. Meanwhile, the salutation comes after in sentence case and a regular typeface.
From the first sentence, the letter introduces the person it’s recommending in bold letters.
The use of bold letters aims to capture the recipient’s attention. They could easily skip the opening and start reading the body from the onset.
Most importantly, the letter maintains formality and only talks about the person it’s recommending.
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2. Letter Of Support
If, as a company or individual, you want to express support for some other company or individual, it wouldn’t be wrong to use a “To Whom It May Concern” letter.
As this example indicates, it’s most suitable when writing on behalf of a company or group.
First, it shows anonymity without portraying any individual as the sender.
Secondly, it shows that the support offer is the responsibility of every group member, with pronouns like “We” and “Our.”
Finally, the formatting is remarkable: it first introduces the intention and unambiguously outlines the support terms.
3. Letter Of Confirmation
A letter of confirmation is not very different from a letter of recommendation, which makes a “To Whom It May Concern” letter suitable.
This sample is a letter confirming that a student was a member of a particular program for a specific duration.
The “To Whom It May Concern” salutation is appropriate because anyone can receive the letter.
The student who the letter is recommending may not need the letter immediately but subsequently. It’s a type of certificate that they can keep forever and present on demand.
4. Letter Of Investigation
This investigation letter follows a formal complaint and broadcast letter style. It’s not an employee making a complaint but a superior – a Captain in the Sheriff’s Department – requesting a company department to complete forms for a fraud check.
Such a delicate situation requires 100% formality, and it doesn’t get more formal than a “To Whom It May Concern” letter.
It expresses a lack of bias. Hence, no recipient will feel like they are a principal suspect in the fraud accusation. However, typical of broadcast letters, what’s most important is the content of the letter and not the salutation.
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5. Letter Of Invitation
Just like making a formal complaint, you can also make a statement, confirming or taking responsibility for something.
This sample letter of invitation is a model example. It’s a “To Whom It May Concern” letter addressed to an embassy, confirming the responsibility of a family member who intends to visit.
When writing such a letter of invitation to an embassy, it’s not entirely wrong to open with “To Whom It May Concern” since you don’t know the recipient.
If you do, it’s still not wrong because even if the embassy approves or rejects your invitation, the letter will remain in the records.
6. Letter Of Authorization
Here’s another sample letter template addressed to a government agency.
The letter authorizes an agent to undertake business matters with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
It opens with the letter title before the salutation. However, the subject draws the most attention.
The letter is brief, and, most importantly, it highlights the name and position of the person authorizing the agent.
Such a letter is valid for more than two years, which means the agent can use it multiple times. As a result, it’s suitable to not address the letter to a single person or office in particular.
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7. Letter Of Notice
This letter of notice serves as a recommendation letter and formal complaint.
It doesn’t recommend a person or group but recommends actions employers can take to foster relationships with their employees.
It can also work as a broadcast “To Whom It May Concern” letter. You can use this sample if you’re writing a notice letter to a company where you’re not an employee.
Since you don’t work for the company, the recipient won’t expect you to address them directly. Hence, it’s safe to open with “To Whom It May Concern.”
8. Letter Of Complaint
This letter of complaint is from a customer to a company they patronize. However, it can also work if you’re an employee wanting to make an internal complaint.
Notably, it’s a pointed letter. Although there’s no bolded or capitalized subject, the first paragraph clearly states who the complainer is and the complaint.
The subsequent paragraphs explain the background behind the complaint.
No matter the complaint, it’s ideal not to sound overly dismissive. Hence, the closing paragraph expresses a sense of understanding and hope that the superior will handle the matter accordingly.
Also Read: What To Include In A Cover Letter For A Job?
9. Broadcast Letter Sample
You can use this sample when informing a group rather than an individual. The letter addresses an association of teachers to notify them of a large donation to support a joint project.
Although the name and contact details of the association are available, the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation is still appropriate, as anyone can read it.
For instance, the association may send copies of the letter to its different members. Alternatively, one member can read it to the hearing of everyone in a meeting.
Whichever method, the letter doesn’t address anyone in particular but the group as a whole.
10. Guardianship Letter
A guardianship letter recommends prospective guardians who will look over a child or ward should anything happen to their current guardians.
As a result, the recommended guardian won’t use the letter immediately but sometime in the future.
Such a letter is also usually sent to a courthouse or a different legal body that handles guardian-related matters. With all of these, you can open with “To Whom It May Concern,” just like in this sample.
When it’s time to effect the letter, anybody in the office could read it. Hence, you don’t need a direct salutation.
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11. Prospect Letter
As mentioned earlier, writing prospect letters is one of the few instances when you can use the “To Whom It May Concern” format.
In this sample, a company is reaching out to other companies and requesting their support in a project.
The project details are of uttermost importance, and the sample letter explains every detail extensively.
From the onset, the aim of the letter is apparent. In addition, it doesn’t fail to state how the companies that decide to support will benefit.
Furthermore, the letter outlines specifically ideal amounts that the companies can donate. It has all the features of a converting “To Whom It May Concern” prospect letter.
12. Expectation Letter
When sending out expectation letters to multiple participants, you can use a “To Whom It May Concern” letter. It’s a form of broadcasting.
The sample letter outlines the expectations of employers, students, and schools who elect to be part of a training program.
The letter opens with a “To Whom It May Concern” salutation and immediately thanks and congratulates the participants. As a result, recipients can still feel special as it shows the sender values them.
The first paragraph further explains the purpose and overall goal of the project for each participant.
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13. Self-recommendation Letter Format
Here’s a sample to use if you’re writing a self-recommendation letter.
The letter is short and brief, featuring only three main paragraphs after the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation.
The “To Whom It May Concern” salutation shows that the sender didn’t have any particular company in mind.
Instead, they can submit copies of the letter to different companies. The takeaway from this sample letter is the details.
It highlights the primary strengths of the person it’s recommending. It also highlights what they can contribute should the company hire them.
14. “To Whom It May Concern” Letter For Employee
If you’re an employer and your employee requests a job verification letter, you can issue a “To Whom It May Concern” business letter. It could be inconvenient to ask them who the letter is for or why they need it.
Employees usually request job verification letters when they want to leave a company. However, they may not want to tell you who their new employer is.
With this business letter, it doesn’t matter who the letter is for or why they need it; they could submit it to anyone.
This sample is ideal for such job verification letters. It’s perfect if the employee holds multiple positions in the company.
Also Read: LinkedIn Recommendation Examples
15. Shipment Confirmation Letter
This sample is a shipment confirmation letter confirming the contents of a particular shipment. Such letters aim to verify the authenticity of a specific person, product, service, or other. It’s similar to the previous job verification letter.
The letter could work as an official document since it’s in the form of an invoice. As a result, it’ll be wrong to address it to a particular person, using “Dear Madam/Sir” or similar.
When To Use “To Whom It May Concern”
Now that we have seen some great examples of “To Whom It May Concern” letters, we’ll be itching to use them. However, in the first place, it’s important to know when to use “To Whom It May Concern” and when not.
Here are a few instances when using “To Whom It May Concern” may be appropriate:
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If your friend, colleague, or other acquaintance is applying for a new job or trying to get into college, they may ask you to write a recommendation on their behalf.
You don’t know who will receive and read the email or the letter. It could be the HR manager, the deputy, a CEO, or other department superiors if it’s a job.
For college, it could be the department chair, a head professor, or any member of the graduate admissions committee.
Likewise, whoever reads the email or the letter will be less concerned about how you open or your salutation. The recipient isn’t interested in you but the person you’re recommending.
As a result, it won’t be unfitting to begin your letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”
In business, you get to introduce yourself often. Most times, it’s to people you’ve never met.
For example, an anonymous individual or company may contact you for a quote or any other profitable business prospect.
If you’re an interest-driven marketer or company, you wouldn’t want to overlook any opportunity to increase your clientele.
Hence, when you receive such anonymous prospects, you should reply, even if you don’t know much about who’s contacting you.
In such a situation, it’s safe to take a general approach like opening your email or letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”
In your letter, you can request to know more about the individual or company so you can address them appropriately next time.
Previously, you received an introductory letter from an anonymous individual or company. The situation is not very different if you were the one sending out a prospecting letter.
However, opening with “To Whom It May Concern” in email or prospect letters is only ideal when you don’t have specific recipients in mind.
Often, with automated marketing campaigns, you may send out prospect emails or letters to many random prospective clients.
Most recipients won’t mind that you open your email or your letter with “To Whom It May Concern” because you’re also anonymous to them.
If the content of your letter is encouraging, they’ll most likely respond.
However, if you can find out more about your prospective clients, it’s better to address them appropriately when sending prospects.
As an employee, you can come across different situations in your workplace that you find inconvenient.
The best thing to do is to make a formal complaint. Any superior in your company can read your complaint letter.
It could be the head of your department, customer service, some administrator, or even the CEO. It depends on the issues you’re addressing in your letter.
The most important thing for anyone that reads your letter is your complaints. Some readers may skip the opening entirely and go straight to the body of the letter.
Perhaps you’re the head of a department, and you want to make a complaint to your subordinates about something you don’t like. You can issue a general complaint letter and open it with “To Whom It May Concern.”
A broadcast letter is always the go-to when contacting a large and complex audience.
Usually, these letters aim to inform the audience of something they may or may not find interesting. In other words, your recipient may take action or not.
As a result, broadcast letters typically contain in-depth information.
For example, you may be informing companies that you are open for employment or your clients that a product is no longer available.
Like the other instances previously mentioned, the details matter the most in your broadcast letter. How you open would be less notable.
When Not To Use “To Whom It May Concern”
There are instances when you should never use a “To Whom It May Concern”. These include:
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When applying for a job, your cover letter could decide your chances. You don’t want to open your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”
Using such a salutation could suggest that you’re nonchalant. Showing interest in the company is necessary when seeking a job.
Hence, you should endeavor to find out who receives your cover letter and address it correctly.
If you’re sending your cover letter via email – which is most likely – you can get a hint of who reads the letter from the email address.
Generally, opening with “Dear” is the industry standard. “Dear Sir/Madam,” is ok.
However, if you know who receives and reads your cover letter, you can open with formal greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiting Manager.”
You write an inquiry letter to learn or get information about something.
For example, you may write to a company to inquire how much a service costs or to a customer to collect their delivery details.
In both instances, your opening needs to be specific because you don’t want the recipient to ignore your letter.
The recipients need to know that they alone can provide the answers to your inquiry. Opening with “To Whom It May Concern” shows that the letter could be for anyone and not them in particular.
Usually, people send inquiry letters to recipients they’re not acquainted with or are contacting for the first time.
Nevertheless, if you want a response, you should open with something better like a simple “Sir/Madam.”
It’s ok to send your recommendation letter, introductory letter, prospect letter, or formal complaint with “To Whom It May Concern.”
However, if you get a reply and you’re to send a follow-up letter, you should drop the “To Whom It May Concern.”
You most likely included your name and contact details in your first letter. With this information, your recipient should address you adequately in their reply letter.
You can then use the specific person information and address them accordingly in return in your follow-up letter.
Even if they do not, sending a follow-up with a “To Whom It May Concern” greeting is unwelcoming. It could suggest to the recipient that you don’t want to communicate.
As an employee, you may need to send reports to your superiors from time to time.
It’s not only unprofessional to address your superiors using “To Whom It May Concern,” but it’s also disrespectful.
Reports in letter form are usually requested. Therefore, it shouldn’t take much effort to find out who receives the letter and address them accordingly.
When you address the recipient correctly, it indicates to them that you carefully prepared your report. It’ll be easier for them to trust what you’re reporting.
You could be sending out report letters to multiple recipients. You can use a general “Dear Sir/Madam” salutation in such a situation.
Also, you can be creative. For example, if your recipients are the board of directors, you can open with a greeting like “Dear Members Of The Board.”
Usually, someone writes a recommendation letter on behalf of another person. However, there are instances when you could write a self-recommendation letter.
If you’re in school, you could write a self-recommendation letter recommending yourself for a scholarship.
In a business setting, you could self-recommend yourself for a new position in your current company. Another typical instance is recommending yourself for transfer to a new branch.
In this kind of business correspondence, the recipient of the letter could forgive someone writing on your behalf if they open with “To Whom It May Concern.” However, for a self-recommendation letter, it’s unsuitable.
Opening with “To Whom It May Concern,” when self-recommending for a new job position could appear like a demand.
You should address the recipient or group of recipients by their title and name, respectively.
“To Whom It May Concern” Alternative Greetings
Here are a few alternatives that you may use in place of “To Whom It May Concern” in your email or letter:
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear Recruiter
- Dear Recruiting Department
- Dear [Name of department you’re interested in]
- Dear [Name of the title or role of the person you’re pursuing]
- Dear Customer Service Manager
- Dear Customer Service Department
- Dear Human Resources Department
- Dear Search Committee
- Dear [Name]
- Hi Friend
- Season’s Greetings
- Hello There [Name]
- Good Morning
- Good Day
- Dear Personnel manager
- Dear Customer Service Associate
- Dear Administrative assistant
If you must open a letter with “To Whom It May Concern”, make sure the first letter of each word is capitalized, and the phrase is followed by a colon. Also make sure that it’s in the right setting and that the letter is well written.
You can follow the tips in this post to ensure you’re doing it right. Ultimately, you can model the outlined letter template examples.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.