Mr., Mrs., Ms.? How about Mx.?

Dear Miss/Mrs./Ms. Anita,

I never know which salutation to use on my cover letter. “To whom it may concern” seems so old school. Sometimes when an email is provided for résumé submission, the first name is not given, only an initial. So I don’t know whether to use Dear Mr. X or Dear Ms. X. What’s the best solution?

Dear, How Do You Do… the Greeting?

When responding to a job posting, do a little research. If the email is in a firstinitial.lastname@companyname.com format, search Avatars of silhouettes with different hairstyles.LinkedIn or Google for the surname + company name to sleuth out the first name and hopefully gender of the hiring manager. If no photo is available and the name is a gender-ambiguous – Terry or Riley or some such – “Dear Terry Smith” or “Dear Riley Jones” will keep you from offending your potential employer. If the email is a vague HR@businessname.com and your research doesn’t let you narrow down the one person to whom you are submitting your application, or if you are uploading your cover letter to an impersonal online application, use “Dear Hiring Manager,” to avoid gender mistakes.

Dictionary.com just added some new words to its lexicon, among them the gender-neutral prefix Mx.

Mx.: a title of respect prefixed to a person’s surname; unlike Mr., Mrs., or Ms., it does not indicate gender and may be used by a person with any or no specific gender identity.

I haven’t seen this used often yet, so Mx. could be construed as a typo by the reader. You may want to include a hyperlink to the definition to help educate and encourage usage of the new label.

If the Mx. salutation gets you to the interview stage, be sure you are looking fleek (another new slang term meaning “flawlessly styled and groomed”).

Readers: Have you seen or personally used the new Mx. title used in a salutation?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alex
    Feb 10, 2016 @ 14:16:25

    I have seen Mx. used before and think it’s a great way to not to misgender your potential employer. It can be used for when you don’t know whom you’re addressing to and also to avoid assuming a persons gender just by looking at their written legal name or going by a picture. Also, instead of the tiresome she/he for pronouns you can use the singular “they”. This is also useful for communication between people who don’t fit i the gender binary as well.

    Reply

  2. BrianT
    Dec 14, 2015 @ 08:41:33

    one point worth knowing about the term MX: it’s the top level internet domain/abbreviation for Mexico.

    no big deal in & of itself, though i could imagine there to be circumstances where it’s best to keep with the more known “Dear Sir or Ma’am” for that reason.

    Reply

  3. mari
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 19:14:06

    hi i been trying to find someone to help me and get any help from someone out there please. I been working as a CNA in this day care but our boss is so rude and he just giving me and other worker 15 min . we both work 6 hrs, 5 days a week. should we be getting that much of brake or hes wrong. Also he makes us clean , with out no raise(9$hr). we do bathroom,take out trash,sweep,mop, clean windows and couches, etc. If we dont do it right he checks us and also like tells us we aint doing it right,ever time before going to work, or even after i feel depress and mad because i really need the job since i am a single mother of 2, but most of all because i don’t know if he knows hes doing wrong. please help me asap .

    Reply

    • anitaclew
      Dec 13, 2015 @ 17:12:06

      Mari, The amount of break time is legally required only in certain states; here is a chart: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm. The criteria for obtaining a raise is at the discretion of your employer. If you feel you are given additional duties that you previously were not responsible for, you may be justified in asking for a raise. Do some research at a website such as salary.com to see the wages other CNAs in your area are making.

      Reply

  4. Tiffany Lieu
    Nov 20, 2015 @ 14:30:35

    Never seen/used it before. Agree it can be interpreted as a typo or some fancy title. The public needs more time spotting in professional places. Maybe not a good idea to overdo it in professional settings yet.

    Reply

  5. fredrick neal
    Nov 17, 2015 @ 15:09:29

    mr

    Reply

  6. Myat Aung
    Nov 17, 2015 @ 14:54:15

    Sorry, I’m Mr. Myat Aung

    Reply

  7. Jeff in PA
    Nov 17, 2015 @ 12:46:09

    What’s wrong with “Dear Sir or Madam”?

    Reply

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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