Writing a speculative application

Did you know that around 60% of jobs are not advertised? The means that if you are only applying to vacancies that you see advertised you are missing out on a lot of potential opportunity. One way of increasing your employment chances, therefore, is to apply to an organisation that you want to work for, even if they don’t have a job advertised. This is called a ‘speculative application’. To make sure that your speculative application is a success, follow our tips below.


Unlike an advertised job, you won’t have a job description to help you tailor your CV and cover letter. So instead, you’ll have to play detective. Research the organisation you want to apply to in depth. Try to understand the structure of the business and think about where you see yourself fitting in. And don’t just look at their website – connect with them on social media. Try to find employees on LinkedIn that may be willing to talk to you about the company.

Make a connection

If you turn up unannounced on somebody’s door to sell them a hoover you are much less likely to make a sale than if that person was expecting you and knew who you were. The same goes for speculative applications. So try to make a connection with the organisation before you send your application – again, social media is great for this, as is attending employer events. That way you can:

a)      find out who is the best person in the organisation to send your application to. You should always avoid sending an email that starts ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ if you can.

b)      name-drop that person in your application – ‘Having spoken to Ms Smith at your recent event…’

Sell yourself

Like any job application, you need to sell yourself and your skills to the employer. Without a job description or person specification, though, you will need to think harder about how the skills you have would be relevant to the organisation. So don’t just tell them everything you are good at. Explain why your skills and experience would be of benefit to them – ‘Having spoken to Ms Smith at your recent event I understand that you are considering utilising social media more for the promotion of your product. I worked for two years as the Social Media Officer of the table-tennis society and during that time increased the society’s twitter followers from 50 to 125.’

Stand out

Imagine your potential future employer sitting at their desk on a Monday morning and looking at an inbox of over 100 emails – what is going to stop them skimming through your one and simply hitting ‘delete’? There’s no one right way to grab somebody’s attention – different tactics will work with different people and this is where your research and connections are so important. Perhaps seeing the name of a colleague in the email will make the employer pay more attention; maybe highlighting the experience that you have and they are looking for. Likewise, spelling mistakes or a vague, generic email might get you immediately deleted.

Be persistent

You might find that you have to send out several speculative applications before you hear anything back from an employer. But you shouldn’t give up. If you don’t get an initial response try emailing the organisation again to politely ask if they received your application. If you still don’t hear anything or get rejected, move on to the next employer. Try not to get dejected. And make sure you get your speculative application checked by our Careers Consultants to make sure it’s at its best.


2 thoughts on “Writing a speculative application

  1. Worth stressing that according to DLHE survey data, about 5000 graduates got the job they were doing 6 months after graduation through a speculative application last year.

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