Responding to Classified Ads


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Greg Falasz writes: I would appreciate getting feedback to the following questions concerning classified ads:
  • do you recommend replying to blind box ads;
  • do you recommend replying to ads that only list a first name and fax number; and
  • do you recommend replying to e-mail addresses that don’t include a company/firm name?
I can appreciate addressing correspondence to a specific person, but in the event no specific person can be discovered, is the following salutation acceptable?
“Dear Madam or Sir,”
The Career Doctor responds: Responding to blind ads of any kind is a personal choice, but I’m sure I would respond if the job seemed right for me. If you choose to respond to these type of “blind” ads though, know that the odds are slim that you will get an interview. In other words, do not make these kind of ads your sole method of job-hunting. Take advantage of other avenues of finding a job, such as networking, headhunters/recruiters, and cold calling. As for your salutation in your cover letter, you should always avoid sexist greetings — and try to avoid stilted greetings, and I would include “Dear Madam or Sir” as one to avoid. I would recommend that you do one of the following:
  • address the cover letter to “Dear Boxholder” — a favorite of mine;
  • address the cover letter to “Dear Hiring Manager for “XYZ” Position (where XYZ is replaced with the name of the position);
  • address the cover letter to “Dear Friends” — though some find that too informal;
  • don’t include a salutation; instead simply put “Re: Job XYZ” (where XYZ is replaced with the job listing code or name).
You can find other cover letter advice at our Cover Letter Do’s and Don’ts. Also refer to the third edition of Dynamic Cover Letters (Ten Speed Press).