A high proportion of jobs are never publicly advertised. Some employers never need to publicise positions as they are filled by speculative applicants. Applying speculatively can be a great way of accessing hidden opportunities, often referred to as the 'hidden job-market'.
In some instances a carefully crafted speculative application can persuade an employer to recruit a graduate for the first time. Some companies don’t even decide they have an opening until an impressive speculative application arrives telling them all about the relevant skills and expertise that could be brought to the business.
We think there are 7 important steps to a successful speculative application:
What Skills, interests and motivations do you have and how do they impact on your choice of future career? Read our advice on your career options to get started.
Step 2: Do your Research
Be informed about what is out there. Occupational research will help you find out about possible jobs and the necessary qualifications required to do them. Industry research will help you find out more about the job sectors they fit in, normal entry routes and etiquette you will need to know. Your employer research will help you identify employers; learn about their business and find out what they do. Begin smart research now.
Step 3: Find a Contact
Once you have identified your employer/s it is important to send your application to a named employee. A covering letter or supporting email is likely to end up deleted when addressed to ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. Try a quick call to the organisation to find out the name of the head of the department you are interested in working for, the CEO or the head of recruitment if it is a larger organisation. If your phone call is unsuccessful, Linked In is another way to help you identify contacts. If information is posted openly on social media sites, then it is for public consumption, so don’t be afraid to use this information to your advantage. Ideally try and get hold of the contacts email address as this way your correspondence has more chance of a reply.
Step 4: Construct a targeted CV and accompanying letter/email
If you are planning on applying speculatively to several organisations don’t be tempted to duplicate generic correspondence. Employers tell us that mass produced and multiple use CVs can be identified immediately and they are amongst they most irritating type of application. A well written and researched application, tailored to the specific company/sector and job you are interested in is much more likely to lead to an interview and save you time in the long run.
Step 5: Keep Records
Be organised in your approach and ensure that you keep records of the employers you have contacted, the correspondence you have sent them and the dates of your contact.
Step 6: Follow Up
Don’t be too disheartened if you fail to hear back from the organisation immediately. Remember that busy employers may not have time to reply to you even if they are interested. Follow up speculative applications after 10 – 14 days with a polite phone call referring to your correspondence. If the company has no suitable vacancies, you can enquire about future opening and receive information about how the organisation typically recruits and how you can be notified of new opportunities.
Step 7: Persevere
Repeat the process if you have been unsuccessful. Remember you may need to send out many applications, but just one job offer could launch your future career!