'Dear Sir or Madam' is an out-of-date, old-styled, or the most common salutation utilized to start a conversation in professional business emails. There are a lot of 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 to whom you are sending an email, 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 has to be used with caution. 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 that you are not interested in the position.
If you've done your homework and believe you are aware of 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.
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 some 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 send an email to 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 that 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." When submitting a cover letter or CV for a job, another common scenario 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 to just 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 they 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" in the form of 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 are no longer working 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..." You don't want this to be the atmosphere you create for prospect outreach if you're a salesperson.
You want to be as comfortable and pleasant with them as possible, which involves doing your homework and getting to know them. If you're contacting a business associate for the very 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, spending time researching the person to whom you are writing. 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!