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To whom it may concern

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To whom it may concern

My daughter is writing covering letters to accompany her CV to put through the doors of as many local hairdressers as possible.
She rang to ask how she should address the recipient and I feel quite sure it should be 'To whom it may concern'. Her mother (who always knows best Wink) insists it should be Dear Sir/Madam.
Has anyone any views or even a definitive answer to this?

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Re: To whom it may concern

Personally I would put 'To whom it may concern'
I don't think there is a definitive answer as I have personally received both in the past.
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Re: To whom it may concern

Tricky question.....
" To whom it may concern".... well, until the letter is actually read.... who knows who(m) it may concern....
"Dear sir/madam"  always wonder about this form of address... as it indicates the writer isn`t fully understanding of the current "class system".... Dear sir... very  " Edwardian" or 1940`s  and "madam"... does anyone call anyone "madam" in a letter heading? 
She could, of course, address the envelope  " To the proprietor"... or "  For the attention of the Manager"  (Manageress)...   
Not sure how many she intends to "drop", but might be an idea to get the phone book out, and just do a quick call to ask the name of the manager/manageress/owner/proprietor  ( and whether that  person is the manager/manageress/owner/proprietor.)  as this will show some "initiative" to the recipient, when the envelope and the "salutation" has their personal name on it....
Otherwise her effort may just go straight into the bin, like all the other "junk mail" addressed to "The Occupier".....
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Re: To whom it may concern

My understanding and, I think this goes back to my school days, is that Dear <name> is for when you know the name of the intended recipient.
Dear Sir/Madam is when you know where it's going just not the acutal name and To whom it may concern is for when you don't know the name or even who the recipient may actually be. In my daughter's example you may not know whether the owner also hires/fires or whether there is a manager, etc.
But I think shutter makes a good point about taking the effort to find out exactly to whom the letter should go to and address him/her by name.

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Re: To whom it may concern

Agree with shutter:- I'd be tempted to do a little more research and find the name of the manager for each establishment, then address her/him by their first name. (acceptable among hairdressers)
Ask yourself what you would do with a CV with a covering letter addressed "To whom it may concern", to "Dear Sir/Madam", or to (example only) Dear Judith.
I suspect the first two would find there way into the bin, the third might also, but at least it would grab the manager’s attention to show the writer of the letter at least 'knows' who the manager is and has taken the time to identify the manager.
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Re: To whom it may concern

Another problem that seems confined to ladies hairdressers; the name over the door often has little to do with the person who manages the salon.
SHMBO has frequented a myriad of hairdressers over the years. Apart from a couple of chain-store type with several branches, with owner only salons they may have changed hands several times, but nearly always retain the name over the shop. In one case a shop called "Hair by ++++++" near here hasn't been run by ++++++ for 30 years.
If in doubt stick to "to whom it may concern"
Failing that, apparently they're screaming out for ladies hairdressers in Australia. A gold-plated acceptance for emigration points.
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Re: To whom it may concern

Tell your daughter to pick up the phone, call the hair dressing salon(s) and ask for the name of the person to whom it should be addressed. If she is not sure how to spell the name of that person, ask during the conversation. It only costs a few pence to do and shows just the greater level of interest.
I used to have a staff of 240 people and it was not unusual to receive unsolicited CV's. They'd all be read, but if addressed "To whom it may concern" it was a pretty good indicator that the originator had done no research into our organisation and generally just receive a quick scan read to make sure we were not ignoring Einstein. We'd reply to most unsolicited applications (post was cheaper in those days) to thank them for their interest but usually including the phrase "if a suitable opportunity arises we'll contact you..."
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Re: To whom it may concern

Good luck to your daughter Mav.  An initiative like this deserves rewarding. Many wouldn't bother.