Here at Apollo Executive Search, we are receiving applications starting with “Dear Sir/ Madam” daily.

Is the job market turning (again)? Is it that we have become so famous? Or is it just a conspiracy, organized by a secret organization, a foreign state or our competitors with the aim to lose faith in the candidates?

Questions you may wish to ask yourself:

  • Which conclusions can be drawn about the quality of your work, starting with your research (=not finding out the name of the person you send an email to) you give to it?
  • How do you treat confidential data (your resume today you send to someone you do not know and the company’s data you will be working for tomorrow)?
  • What does it say about the importance you give the recruiter? I bet you would not send the same email to 100 CEOs saying “Dear CEO”
  • Which attention and goodwill from the reader will this email likely get?
  • How will this impact in the end the return of investment and how worthwhile is this approach after all?

Like you, we get many emails every day and research shows that 80% of all emails will never be opened.

And IF we open an email, eg your application, we are like you: we will ask ourselves “what is in it for me?”. We want to feel special. Loved. But our hope is chilled after a mili-second when we see that you do not even know our name or, worse (but it happens), that we are in blind copy and this emails went to dozens or hundreds of other recruiters. We will be disappointed and feel a little more Weltschmerz than before your email!

Is it that what you want?


Rather, give it that little extra work and personalize your email. And this does not only mean writing “Dear Cornelius”, it means going further: check out your recruiter on Google and LinkedIn. If s/he is not on LinkedIn, don’t apply in the first place. If s/he is, have a look at the profile. What do you have in common? Check out the groups your recruiter follows for personal interests until you have found something. The Leitmotive of any successful application is to base the approach on things you have in common.

Example: I just got a LinkedIn invitation that started “Bonjour Jorg, I just saw your latest comment ‘This is how knowledge workers want to work today’, which is kind of intriguing.” Good!

Look for any points in common until you have found at least one and your email might go from:

  • “Dear Sir/ Madam” to
  • “Dear Rupert,I noticed you and I share a passion for teddy bears. Actually, I have a collection of 71 of them and some, I have restored meticulously. Other than that, I am currently repositioning myself: you are specialized in the recruitment of C-level candidates in space flight. This is a niche area and we are both 100% in it.” (Remark: the teddy bear story is a real one. One of my candidates shared it in my presence many years ago at the end of the interview with my client. He did not get the job)


We will give little attention to emails that go “Dear Sir or Madam”. If you are lucky, your CV will be looked at. In most cases, we will push the “delete” button. Invest that extra time, show in this email that you are a serious person and turn your return ration from 0.01% to a double digit number!