However, before using a general salutation (or leaving off a salutation), try to find out the name of the person you are contacting. If you are applying or inquiring about a job and the hiring manager’s name is not included on the job listing, you might look up the title of the employer or hiring manager on the company website. If there is a contact number, you might also call and ask an administrative assistant for the name of the hiring manager. If you are sending a different type of letter, you can still look up the person’s name on the company website, or speak to an administrative assistant or contact at the company for the name of the person you are trying to reach.
I can’t tell you how many truly awful letters I’ve had to read in my life. As a former administrative assistant, I was responsible for all the unsolicited submissions to a major New York museum. Artists and collectors all over the country (and abroad) wrote to have their work considered for display or acquisition, and to be honest the decision frequently rested more on the quality of their cover letter than on their work _ which, romantic dreams aside, rarely if ever sells itself.