Speculative applications involve sending a CV and covering letter to an employer asking whether they have any vacancies in the sector you are interested in. They are a good way to access ‘hidden jobs’ – it is estimated that more than 50% of jobs go unadvertised and are filled by speculative applications or networking.
When should speculative applications be used?
- Speculative applications may be suitable if you want to work in a particular geographical area or highly focused field (i.e. sports psychology) or if you want to work in a small but popular area such as film and broadcasting.
- Smaller employers may not recruit as regularly so speculative applications may be well received; they can save the company a lot of time and money in advertising.
- If you are looking for vacation work, work experience and work shadowing approaching specific companies may be beneficial.
- Speculative applications are not just effective in niche or popular areas, they are also accepted in, for example, law, civil engineering and management consultancy.
How do you find contacts?
- Wherever possible, target your speculative letter to a named individual.
- Regional employer directories will help you with a geographical search. Also see our ‘Finding work in the Portsmouth area’ leaflet available from Purple Door or in the Download zone.
- Newspaper ads – even if a company is not advertising for exactly what you want use the name and address to contact the company to find out about other possible opportunities.
- Network with your friends and relatives – let them know what you are looking for and when you are available - they can be a great help with your job search. You can find further information on networking on the Prospects website.
- Phone up the company – if you have a company name and number you can always ask the receptionist for a direct contact within the relevant department.
- Work shadowing or gaining work experience can help you generate a good network of contacts, you can then use this when applying for positions.
What do I put in my application?
- Use your current CV – look at the CV writing guide in our Download zone for tips on how to put together an effective CV.
- Direct your covering letter, which should accompany your CV, to a named contact – your application will be less likely to be put aside if it has someone’s name on it to take responsibility.
- Your covering letter should target the company you are applying to – a standard letter is dull and will not be read with interest. Explain why you want to work for the company and what you think you can bring to the position. For guidelines on how to write a speculative application letter please visit the Download zone.
- A follow up phone call will demonstrate your enthusiasm for working for the company. If you plan a follow up call say so in your covering letter.
- Specify what you are actually looking for. Avoid unfocused requests e.g. “anything suitable for my qualifications and experience”.
- Your application may be kept on file for several months if there is nothing suitable now. Get back in touch in a couple of months to remind the company you are still interested.