How to write a speculative application
Our top tips for getting noticed by prospective employers
When looking to land your first job role, 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 way to do this is by using speculative applications. In this guide, we take a look at what they are and how they can help you get a job.
What is a speculative application?
Sounds fancy, but simply put - a speculative application is when you apply for a job that hasn’t been advertised. This usually involves sending a cover letter and your CV/resume to an employer for a role at their company directly. Although this seems like a long shot, it can be an effective way to secure valuable experience and make connections.
Many jobs in fields such as design, environmental work, media, and charity work aren’t advertised. Speculative applications can be effective when done right, as a lot of these positions go to those who show some initiative. 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.
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:
- List potential companies. 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.
- Figure out how you can add value. Consider how your set of skills can benefit very 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. You’ll need 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:
- Introduce yourself and let them know why you’re contacting them. Tell them your name and current stage of education or employment. Let the person know why you’re writing to them specifically.
- Highlight your company knowledge. Give details about your knowledge of the business and what they do, and link it to your expertise. It’s good to give some specific examples here - you may have recently read an article about their company’s work in social impact, for instance - but avoid copying and pasting or summarising large chunks of their website!
- Explain why this particular company and role appeals to you. Be sure to let the organisation know why working there would be ideal for you. Perhaps you have very highly-sought after skills, or you may want to be part of the company’s journey to make a difference.
- 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.’
- End strong. Finish your cover letter with a polite and professional sign off. ‘I look forward to hearing back from you. Best wishes…’ are all great options. If you are sending this via email, it still needs to be professional using proper spelling and punctuation, a formal address for the receiver (e.g. Sir, Madam, Unifrog Team, etc.), and sign-offs. As tempting as it is to use your email address from primary school, make sure the email address you use is simple and professional even if that means creating a new account.
3. Follow up your application
You might not hear back straight away. That’s perfectly normal! After a couple of weeks of sending through your application, you may want to follow it up with an email. 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 is 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, an unpaid internship, 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.
You can find more on how to write a winning cover letter here, and how to write a great CV here.
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