does a letter which starts with "To whom it may concern:" end with "Yours sincerely" or "Yours faithfully"?
I've never signed a letter under "Yours faithfully" my whole life, but I have used "Sincerely" with great frequency.
I've always used the guideline that "business should always be faithful but friends are sincere." That, of course, fits generally with your assertion - if you know a person's name, you are more likely to be friendly whereas a "Dear Sir" needs to be "faithful."
My guess would be that "to whom it may concern" should therefore end "yours faithfully" because it is a business issue AND not a named person. I don't have a reference to pull from, just years of habit
Generally speaking, I can't imagine starting a business letter with 'To whom it may concern'. My preference would be 'Dear Sir'.
I think you'd perhaps need to look at the purpose of the communication in order to decide how to end it. It might be that a simple name ,or even no name at all, might be appropriate.
To whom it may concern:
This space is reserved. Please do not park here again, or else your car will be towed away.
I feel the phrase sometimes even has a mildly threatening tone, which does not seem to warrant much cordiality in the ending.
Best wishes, Clive
And I have written "To whom it may concern" hundreds of times, it is intended for those times when you have no idea who will be receiving the letter but you know that it should be someone who can address your letter properly.
letters which starts with to whom it may concern ends with sincerely, yours faithfully.
How to open and close your cover letter
On a cover letter, formality is rarely a bad thing.
Write your cover letter opening and closing with these tips.
In a tight job market flooded with resumes and cover letters, it’s a given that your documents and messages need to be error-free. So how else can you distinguish your communications? Appropriate openings and closings that convey professionalism and polish.
Use our tips below on how to start your cover letter with a proper greeting and sign off with a polished signature. And if you need additional writing tips, join Monster today, so the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service can help you impress employers with a high-impact resume and cover letter.
Cover letter openings
Write a formal greeting, such as Dear Ms. Alvis or Dear Mr. Yang. If you're unsure of the person’s gender and can’t find out, write the full name, as in Dear Chu Li or Dear Chris Beltran.
While it is increasingly common to see greetings without the "Dear" in business, it is less formal. When applying for a job, sometimes you want to start off formally, even though you may take a less formal tone in subsequent written exchanges.
If you’re unfamiliar with someone’s name, be sure you don’t confuse the first name with the family name, which can easily happen in today’s global business environment, depending in part on the languages you know. For example, the CEO of Lenovo is Yang Yuanqing. His surname is Yang and his first name is Yuanqing (in Mandarin, the family name is written first), so if you are addressing him, you would write Dear Mr. Yang and not Dear Mr. Yuanqing.
A final comment on people’s names: be sure to spell them correctly. That is one typo no recipient will miss.
What if you cannot track down a contact name for your cover email? Use a generic salutation, such as Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Recruiting Manager or Dear Human Resources Professional. (Avoid To Whom It May Concern; it is antiquated.) Another option is to write Greetings, which is somewhat informal but polite. You could also dispense with the opening greeting altogether and start with your first sentence, although some recipients might find that approach to be abrupt.
In all openings, be sure to capitalize the first letter of every noun and follow your greeting with punctuation. Use either a colon (Dear Mr. Yang:) or a comma (Dear Recruiting Manager,).
Cover letter closings
End your message with a formal closing, such as Sincerely, Regards or Best regards. If your closing contains more than one word, capitalize only the first word, as in Best regards or Sincerely yours. And be sure to put a comma after your closing. A common error in business communications is the omission of that comma.
Your full name goes on the next line. No need for the extra space that used to go on letters for the signature. Write your telephone number and email address on separate lines after your name. Although this contact information is on your resume (and your email address is on your email), including it with your cover message makes life easier for the recipient.
This post is by Helen Cunningham and Brenda Greene, authors of The Business Style Handbook, An A-to-Z Guide for Effective Writing on the Job