A heck of a lot of job opportunities aren’t advertised, so how can you get your foot on the job ladder if companies aren’t advertising their jobs? One way is to send off speculative applications. This involves sending a CV and a speculative covering letter in the hope that a company will consider you for future job opportunities. Sounds like a wild goose chase right? Well, in actual fact, it has worked for many, many people!
E is for effort…
The key thing about speculative job applications is to put as much effort into them as you would into a standard job application. Yes, it might be dispiriting to agonise long and hard over an application, only to receive no reply from the company, but believe us, the more impressive and tailored your speculative application is, the more likely the company will be to consider you for future job opportunities.
Where do I start?
A good starting point is to arm yourself with a list of companies where you want to work. It might be best to primarily target small or medium-sized companies, as these are the companies who are least likely to advertise vacancies.
But wait! Before you go sending anything, get out your trusty phone and give them a call. Find out the name of the person to whom you should send your speculative job application. A job application to a specific person, rather than a general ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, is far more likely to be read. Next you need to crack on tailoring that CV and covering letter to the company.
Writing that covering letter…
The main advantage of speculative applications is that they show companies that you really want to work for them. That’s why you shouldn’t spoil the effect by sending them a generic covering letter and CV. Tailoring your application is key and this should largely be conveyed in your covering letter. This is the chance to show them that you’ve researched their company thoroughly. The way to do this is to offer unique reasons as to why you want to work for them.
Even though you aren’t applying for a particular position, you also need to indicate where you see yourself fitting in, e.g. do you want to work in the marketing, I.T. or editorial department? You might also want to give an indication of the kind of role you are looking for. Just sending them a letter that states, “I want to work for you. Anywhere. Please. Just give me a job” won’t impress.
Part of this, is thinking about the kind of skills and attributes that they will be looking for in future employees. How will you fit in with the company? What skills do you have that will make them pick up the phone and call you in for an interview?
Just saying you are ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘dependable’ won’t cut the mustard. It’s about what you can offer them, not what they can do for you. Give them evidence of your experience in the industry, tell them about relevant achievements and back up any assertions with relevant examples.
Tinkering that CV…
Let’s not forget about your CV. Nope, you can’t leave it as it is. Check that you’ve struck out anything in your CV that isn’t relevant, and make sure you highlight your key selling points. You might want to think about using CV buzzwords (particularly for larger companies, as your CV might be stored in an online database) and highlight the things that you think will interest them the most. The person reading your CV might only glance over it very quickly, so you need to make sure they see the things they’re looking for.
You can choose to send your speculative application off via email or post, but once you’ve fired if off, you need to follow up with a phone call a few days later. If you don’t follow up with a call, they might overlook your application. You might need to persuade them to look at your application and take your request further.
So there you have it: speculative applications shouldn’t be a last ditch attempt at finding a job, but part and parcel of the job hunting process. Who knows what opportunities might result from a lovingly crafted speculative application?