Dos and Don’ts of Making a Speculative Application

It’s that time of year where in the Careers & Enterprise Centre we start getting lots of inquiries about psychometric tests and assessment centres. Many students who applied to large graduate recruiters will start the recruitment process over the next few months (interviews, tests, 2nd interviews etc).

But if you’ve found that you have missed a lot of the deadlines for graduate schemes, or none of them took your fancy, don’t despair! That’s only one way to get a job after graduation (albeit maybe the best known way). Another is to send off a speculative application to a company that you are interested in working for, but where you have not seen a job advertised. If you’re going to try speculative applications, here are a few things to bear in mind:


  • Research the organisation. You won’t have a job or person spec to tailor your CV and cover letter to, so you’ll have to make sure you do your own research to find out what you need to know.
  • Research the sector. Know the company’s competitors, know what skills are needed in the industry, know the hiring practices.
  • Know what you want to do. It can be hard if you don’t have a job spec to know what the organisation is looking for or might need. You want to seem open enough to slot in where they need you but not so open that you would do anything and hence look unfocused. It’s a difficult balance, and ultimately about knowing yourself and the organisation well enough to know how you can fit together.
  • Have your CV and cover letter looked at by us.


  • Send off lots of speculative applications to anyone and everyone. Tailor your CV and cover letter to the organisation. Spend the time researching. It will pay off.
  • Address your cover letter or email ‘to whom it may concern’. Finding a named contact should be a key part of your research.
  • Be scared to follow up…with a phone call or email, just to see if the company got your application.
  • Be disheartened. Just like any job (be they advertised or otherwise) you might have to send out a few applications before anyone gets back to you.



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