City, State ZipCode
Dear Ms./Mr./Dr. LastName,Filling in the blanks in the above formula is not normally the most difficult part of writing a cover letter. However, I hit a little stumbling block in this case, and I’m actually surprised I haven’t run into this issue before. What is the appropriate title to use for someone with an ambiguously gendered first name? I am not culturally aware enough to be able to distinguish gender for most unfamiliar names. Many non-traditional names are also confusing, both those of the hippie variety like River, and those of the yuppie variety like Taylor.
In the case of the job I applied for this week, the recruiter’s name was Chris LastName. This particular instance is especially frustrating, since “Chris” is a nickname, and being the contact person for a job posting seems to require a little more formality. Christophers seem to shorten their names to Chris more often than Christines, but it is not a fast enough rule to gamble by: I have a college friend named Christine who often went by Chris. And the dilemma is not limited to Chrises. How do you address Pat, or Jody, or Terry, or Sandy, or Jamie?