Email Greetings Insult My Intelligence


I’m unemployed and, as you can probably imagine, I spend a fair amount of time on my job search.  Looking for a job isn’t always as thrilling as people usually make it out to be.  In today’s digital age, the pitfalls are greater than ever before.

Back before the dawn of online communications, people would check the newspaper want ads or go to agencies in person or do whatever else was popular back then.  I wouldn’t know.  But these days, one must often apply by email and this can be tricky.  For example, a job advertisement might look something like this:

We are looking for a new employee with the standard set of qualifications.  To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to Terry J. Squawchawk at

Since I’m addressing a specific person, I now have to devise an appropriate greeting for my email.  In the old days, I imagine that people could just say “Dear Sir or Madam” on those occasions when they were required to submit a letter.   Because advertisers paid newspapers by the word or letter, a contact person’s name was presumably not published unless it was absolutely necessary.  Consequently, applicants could also choose to address their letters to the HR department.

Life was simpler back then.

These days I have to know whether Terry J. Squawchawk is a man or woman because “Dear Sir or Madam” would be offensive.  And since one can’t always learn someone’s gender online, one must sometimes devise creative solutions.  Here are a few alternative salutations I’ve considered:

Dear Bodacious One,

O Captain My Captain,

Hey you!

To the boss of my dreams,

Yo bitch!

Hail Terry, full of grace,

To whom it may concern,

Hey hey Terry J!


Your Majesty,

Hail to the Chief!

Oompa loompa doompety doo – I’ve got an application for you,

If you have any better ideas, please let me know.  Appropriate email greetings are critical and I don’t want to mess things up.

16 thoughts on “Email Greetings Insult My Intelligence

  1. Maybe you should use an over-the-top awesome greeting, like:

    Dear Supreme Overlord,

    Obviously it’s not true, but the person receiving it will feel warm and fuzzy inside. However, it may cast some expectations of subservience…

  2. Dear Terry could work. Or you can choose to apply only to those places that have gender-specific HR rep: if they make it so stressful to apply, imagine how bad the job would be.
    Or just use a coin toss to estimate the gender. Best out of three, if you want to be more confident.

  3. “Hail Terry, full of grace” just cracked me up. Also, “O Captain, My Captain?” If I was on the other end of the email, I would’ve cried and given you the job.

    • Thanks!

      Since I blog anonymously, there’s only one person I’ve revealed my identity to… and that’s my contact at a job placement agency. My resume makes me look really boring to most people…

  4. I’m 18 years old and on the verge of starting law college, don’t really know what it’s like to look for a job. A contact at a job agency? Hmm, it sounds so awesome, like stating that you’re the Director of an intelligence agency and you’ve placed a mole somewhere. Of course the resume has to look boring… You’re operating under cover, aren’t you?

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