As you’re eagerly approaching the job market for the first time, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you get results. From acing your CV or resume to perfecting your cover letter, it’s possible to get ahead of the game. One often overlooked approach is to use speculative applications. We take a look at what they are and how they can help you…
Simply put, a speculative application is when you apply for a job that hasn’t been advertised. Although this seems like a long shot, it can be an effective way to secure valuable experience and make connections.
Speculative applications – what are they good for?
Many jobs in fields such as design, environmental work, media, and charity work, aren’t advertised. As such, these positions often go to those who show some initiative. And, even if you happen to approach a company that isn’t hiring at present, they will often keep your details on file for future opportunities.
Speculative applications can be effective, particularly when done right. If you get your name and CV/resume in front of the right person, you might be just the candidate they’re looking for. Alternatively, if the company doesn’t have any permanent roles for you at that time, they might be able to offer some valuable work experience or forward your details onto someone else.
This type of application isn’t a surefire thing. You have to know what you’re doing, and it’s best not to assume that each effort will be successful. Thankfully, we can help you to write a speculative application that’s sure to impress.
Our top tips for writing a speculative application
Unfortunately, this process isn’t as simple as sending your CV over to any company that catches your eye. Without a targeted approach, your letter or email will likely go unnoticed. Here’s how to go about writing a speculative application:
1. Do your research
As with any application, you’ll need to spend time brushing up on your options:
- You want to start by drawing up a list of potential employers you think you’d be a good fit for. Whether it’s a company that interests you or a local brand that you’re familiar with, think about what position you could fill there.
- Check for any advertised vacancies - you don’t want to send a speculative application for a job that they’re already recruiting for.
- Read up about the company. Think about the organisation’s background, company ethos, how it operates, and whether there are any publicised plans for expansion.
- If possible, find out who the hiring manager is.
- Consider how your set of skills can benefit particular aspects of the company.
Remember - you need to show a potential employer how you can help them. Make sure you keep this in mind when researching companies and roles you think you’re suited to.
2. Tailor your application
Once you have your shortlist of companies, your application to each one should be unique. Usually, you’re going to want to send a cover letter/email and attach your CV/resume. Both the letter and the CV should be tailored to the company and job you’re applying for:
- Explain who you are and why you’re contacting them. For example, ‘I’m a recent secondary school graduate, looking to gain some experience in the … industry.’
- Let the person know why you’re writing to them specifically. You could put something along the lines of, ‘I know your company has an excellent reputation for… and I was intrigued to learn about your approach to…’ and follow up with, ‘I’m writing to inquire whether you currently have any vacancies for x position.’
- Give further details about your knowledge of the business and what they do, and link it to your expertise. ‘I know your company values x, y and z. As you can see from my attached CV, through my studies and work experience, I’ve developed skills in [relevant skills]. I also achieved [relevant achievement].’ It’s good to give some specific examples here.
- Explain why this particular company and role appeals to you. For example, ‘I have long held an interest in… and feel I could bring my hard work and dedication to the role of x. I’m eager to work for a company with such a great reputation as yours, and I believe I will be a great fit for the company culture.’
- Keep your options open. Explain that you’d be delighted to discuss any potential opportunities. Add something like, ‘If there are currently no suitable vacancies, I’d be grateful if you could keep my CV on file for future opportunities.’
- Finish your cover letter with a polite and professional sign off, ‘I look forward to hearing back from you. Yours sincerely…’
3. Follow up your application
You might not hear back from your correspondence straight away. That’s perfectly normal. After a couple of weeks of sending through your application, you may want to follow it up with a phone call. This will give the person you’ve directed it to time to read through your CV and cover letter. However, you shouldn’t be overbearing here. It’s good to be persistent but not pestering.
Hopefully, your contact will want to either discuss things with you further or even invite you in for an interview. Although this a great opportunity to do some networking, keep in mind that they may not offer you a job there and then. In many instances, they might ask you to do some work experience or apply for a similar role to the one you’re interested in.
If they do offer you a role, you don’t have to make a decision right away. Take your time to think things over. No matter what the outcome is, thank them for taking the time to talk to you/meet with you. Remember to be polite and professional at all times.
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