Dear Sir/Madam…

We’ve had an exciting month, growing our team. The recruitment process, in and of itself, isn’t overly enjoyable or fun. And the range of candidate bad habits that make you want to shake them from the other side of the screen doesn’t help. 

By the title, you should be able to guess where this is going.

On multiple occasions – that’s right, not just once – people have reached out to us with emails opening with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Yes, they included the slash; not even choosing one title or another. Here’s why that’s absolutely something you shouldn’t do.

Know who you’re talking to

In this day and age, there’s very little excuse for not knowing who you’re talking to. A quick bit of research on Google or LinkedIn – or sometimes even just scrolling to the bottom of the job advert you’re already on – could bring up the name of a relevant contact. Or, if you’re still unsure whether to pick sir or madam, why not use ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘To [company name]’? Anything that suggests a sense of empathy for the recipient. 

This only serves to reinforce the importance of knowing who you’re talking to. It doesn’t just apply to your job hunt; it’s a good rule of thumb for all communication. What does it say to the other person if you can’t do the most basic research? How can you be sure you’re saying the right thing if you don’t even know who will be reading it?

First impressions count

To us, this ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ example highlights two things. One, just how lazy and complacent people have become when it comes to communication. And two, just how many jobs people must be applying for.

Laura Padgett at Authentic Talent has been working with us.

“First impressions count. And the recruitment process is no different. Potential employers can assume that you have the skills and experience to be effective in the role (why else would you be applying?), however what they really want to know is whether you fit with their culture and values. Tell them about yourself and why you want the role. Be real. Maybe it’s time to drop the Dear Sir/ Madam? Or at least pick one.”

As an applicant, neither of these impressions is ideal, hardly boding well for a future career. You don’t want to come across as if your application is just another one on the pile. As if it’s no more or less important than the last. Although everyone knows the scattershot approach is most effective, you don’t want to look as if you couldn’t care less about the role.

But this is also a problem that’s mirrored across the wider world of business communication. 

So often, we overlook the importance of personalisation and targeted writing for specific audiences. It only takes a few minutes to familiarise yourself with potential clients ahead of sending a pitch or writing an article. These few minutes will prove so integral and ensure your communications have their maximum effect. 

It’s the little details like this that matter most. The phrase ‘the devil is in the detail’ comes to mind. The silver lining in our case is that this problem has significantly helped us cull the candidate pool. And those who made the final cut are as interested in us as we are in them.


Get in touch today if you want to ensure all your marketing and communication efforts are making a real impact.

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