'Dear Sir Madam' is an out-of-date, old-styled, or the most common salutation utilized to start a conversation in professional business emails. There are many reasons why you should skip it for a while — Firstly, in today's digitally connected world, determining who you're emailing is easier than ever. Secondly, the gender of the recipient may not be reflected in this greeting. Ultimately, it's a little hazy and sloppy. Also, if you want to learn more about the individual you are emailing, you can use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Google, or the company's website.
These common letter greetings should be avoided because it is always preferable to address the letter to the recipient by name. There's a negligible reason not to know who you're writing to nowadays with the Internet!
But what if you've looked all over the Internet and still can't find anything? Then you're free to use greetings like "Dear Sir or Madam.", "Dear madams", or "Hi Mam." I mean, it's okay to use it now & then, but not always! Even in such a situation, there are better options. Let's look at what's wrong with "Dear Sir or Madam" and when each option should be used.
Is It Perfectly Okay To Say "Dear Sir Or Madam"?
While "Dear Sir or Madam" is still an acceptable greeting, it must be used cautiously. This is so because it's an ancient convention. It might come across as stuffy, and individuals who don't identify as male or female might get upset - hardly the best way to start your first meeting with a possible employer!
Furthermore, utilizing this salutation can make you appear sluggish. If you look in the company's web directory or conduct a fast LinkedIn search, you should be able to get the recipient's name.
Even if you can't discover a name (and some organizations prefer to keep this information secret to shield their hiring managers from too excited applicants), you should be able to address a department or position name.
Using a generic welcome can make it look like you sent an identical cover letter to five different companies. This will make you appear insincere and create red lights in the recipient's mind, leading them to believe you are not interested in the position.
If you've done your homework and believe you know your audience to avoid these traps, this greeting might be a good approach to start your letter if you don't know much about the person you're writing to. Simply said, you'll need to put in a little extra effort in the body of your letter to demonstrate that you completed your homework on the organization and position.
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Why "Dear Sir or Dear Madam" Shouldn't Be Used?
➤ Honestly, It Seems Lazy!
You can look up practically anyone's name and contact information in the internet era. Spend time on a company's website or LinkedIn page to get a sense of who you should contact. Send an exploratory email to the general company inbox — commonly available on the "About Us" or "Contact Us" page — if you ever need to email the company's marketing manager but don't have their details.
Introduce yourself briefly and request the administrator's assistance in connecting you with the appropriate individual. This technique will take a bit longer than mailing a direct but unaddressed email to the team or person you're trying to reach, but it will also show that you're eager to understand who this individual is and how to address them properly.
This appeal for assistance is also more likely to receive a response than a prepared email titled "Dear Sir or Madam.", "Dear ma'am." Another common scenario when submitting a cover letter or CV for a job is to use "Dear Sir or Madam." It can be difficult to figure out to whom you're sending your application, but that's no reason just to write "Dear Sir or Madam" or "Dear madams" and call it a day.
Instead, tailor it to the department you're applying to or the prospective employer who will undoubtedly read it. If you want to apply for a position in the Sales Department, for example, send your cover letter to "Dear [Company name] Sales" or "Dear Hiring Manager." These greetings are friendlier and less official and offer you a conversational, approachable first impression.
➤ It's Exclusive.
"Sir" or "Madam" will not appeal to everyone. You never want to upset or assume a business associate's or peer's gender conformity. If you predict a contact's gender incorrectly, it will trigger red flags and jeopardize your ability to do business with them.
You've already demonstrated that you haven't taken the effort to learn who they are before you've even started telling them the purpose of your email. Why should people bother to listen to what you want to say?
Even if their email address or name leads you to assume one or the other of these welcomes would be acceptable, never presume your email receiver identifies with "Sir" or "Madam." Take out some time to know them, and use their name in your greeting if you know it.
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➤ It's A Sign Of A Larger Problem
"Dear Sir or Madam" is frequently used in one of two scenarios, neither of which is hopeful. You either don't know the recipient's name or are sending them an email regardless, or you're sending a bulk email and don't have the time or resources to personalize it.
These incidents are signs of a bigger outreach issue. Consider upgrading your outreach strategy if you don't know the name of your email receiver but still feel compelled to send them an email. Emailing someone you don't know is known as a "cold email," and it's often frowned upon.
Take the time to discover who you're contacting, engage with them first by following and connecting with them on social media, and reap the benefits of "warm outreach" through higher response rates and deeper relationships.
This is a bigger issue if you're sending bulk emails and don't have the time or resources to personalize your approach. According to a recent Experian study, transactional or triggered emails garner eight times more opens and generate eight times more money than bulk emails.
Bulk email is also more prone to sending your emails to spam, even if they are non-bulk. Many businesspeople have also discovered that mass emails no longer work for them. Today's salesmen rely on personalized emails to get the attention of their prospects. Find out who you're contacting, what matters to them, and why they should care about what you're saying.
➤ Hinders Relationship-Building
"Dear Sir or Madam" is the equivalent of starting an email with "Hello, I'm a stranger" or "You don't know who I am, however..." If you're a salesperson, you don't want this to be the atmosphere you create for prospect outreach.
You want to be as comfortable and pleasant with them as possible, which involves doing homework and getting to know them. If you're contacting a business associate for the first time, you should make the impression that you're proactive and interested in learning more about them.
If you're sending a cover letter or resume, your initial email should be one that distinguishes you from the herd, not "Dear Sir or Madam." When you begin a letter with "Dear Sir or Madam," you're confessing that you don't know who you're writing to. To make a good first impression, get to know the person who will be receiving your letter. When you start out with such a chilly and distant hello, it's difficult to be approachable.
Is It Okay To Use "Dear Sir or Madam" In Cover Letters?
Although cover letters are more professional than emails, they follow some of the same guidelines, particularly if you're writing to somebody for the first time. Regardless of the structure, maintain a formal tone while, as previously indicated, researching the person you are writing to. When possible, avoid using "Dear Sir or Madam"; it is one element of a cover letter that you can safely leave out. While not always improper, there are far better options if you want to make a positive first impression!
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What About Using "Dear Sir or Madam" In Emails?
In emails, try to avoid using "Dear Sir/Madam." Writing an email with "Dear Sir or Madam" at the start feels much more out of place than starting a cover letter with "Dear Sir or Madam." When sending an email, it's better to address it directly to the person. We have discussed why you shouldn't write 'Dear Sir or Madam,' but how do you use that advice while writing an email, for example?
If you can't locate any information on the person you're emailing, "To Whom It May Concern" may be suitable. It's polite, considerate, and welcoming. However, question yourself, "Who is the recipient of this message?" before using this greeting. Use "To Whom It May Concern" if the answer is "Anyone."
However, when doubting whether the greeting may be perceived as dismissive, stick with the customary "Dear Sir or Madam." (However, we're confident you've already discovered the ideal substitute.)
Why does "Dear Sir or Madam" Falls Short, Especially In Emails?
The issues with "Dear Sir or Madam" boiled down to the following:
• It's Cliched And Sloppy
You have Internet access at all times. You should be able to find anything more precise than Sir or Madam on Google. You should be able to discover a specific department or post even if you can't find a specific name.
• It's Out Of Date
Unless you're writing to someone at the Royal British Society, the receiver is likely to be perplexed about how you arrived in 19th-century Victorian England.
• It Isn't Gender-Neutral
It is not necessary for the recipient to identify as a Sir or Madam. In that situation, the reader hasn't even begun reading your letter, and you've already made a mistake.
The Best "Dear Sir or Madam" Alternatives
We have earlier discussed why you should avoid using "Dear Sir or Madam" during the Mad Men era, but you'll need something to replace it. So, what do you imagine it should be? Here are a few viable options:
"Dear [Job title]"
"Dear Customer Service Representatives"
"Dear Search Committee"
"Dear, [First name]."
"Dear Hiring Manager"
"Hello, [Insert the name of the company]."
"Hello, [Insert team name]."
"I hope this email finds you well."
"To Whom It May Concern."
Well, so many alternatives are there, right? But you must always remember that the three magic components required for sending ethical, successful business emails are tact, effort, and time. You need to ensure that you give equal importance to every item of correspondence, no matter how minor or inconsequential it may appear.
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So, in the end, we would like to specify that achieving a successful email is quite a tough job, but with the perfect formula in place, it can be done efficiently. First and foremost, thoughtfulness should always come first to avoid any misunderstanding in a conversation. And then, you must make an effort by investing some time in curating your business emails so that you don't have to tire yourself out going back and forth over small points.
So, did you understand the point of utilizing “Dear Sir or Dear Madam” alternatives in a proper way? Of course, you did! So there you have it! You can now move forward with the rest of your emails and cover letter. Happy emailing!