A Guide To Speculative Applications
Speculative applications involve sending a resume and covering letter to an employer asking whether they have any vacancies in the sector you are interested in. They are a good way to access ‘hidden jobs’ – it is estimated that more than 50% of jobs go unadvertised and are filled by speculative applications or networking. In addition, if you are looking for vacation work, work experience and work shadowing to boost your resume, approaching specific companies in this manner can be more beneficial than you think.
Speculative applications may be suitable if you want to work in a particular geographical area or highly focused field (i.e. sports psychology) or if you want to work in a small but popular area such as film, television and journalism. Although it is important to note that speculative applications are not just effective in niche areas, they are also accepted in, for example, law, civil engineering and management consultancy.
Smaller employers do not usually recruit as regularly or in as high profile a manner in comparison to larger organizations, so speculative applications are often well received; they can save the company a lot of time and money in advertising.
Wherever possible, target your speculative letter to a named individual; your application will be less likely to be put aside if it has someone’s name on it to take responsibility. At the start of your job search, make a list of employers/companies that you would like to work for and find their phone numbers, ask for the name of the person in charge of human resources or recruitment; this is who your speculative application should be addressed to. Newspaper advertisements are a good way to find contacts; even if a company is not advertising for exactly what you want, use the name and address to contact the company to find out about other possible opportunities.
Your covering letter should target the company you are applying to – a standard letter is dull and will not be read with interest. Explain why you want to work for the company and what you think you can bring to the position. Specify what you are actually looking for; avoid unfocused requests e.g. “anything suitable for my qualifications and experience”.
A follow up phone call will demonstrate your enthusiasm for working for the company. If you plan a follow up call say so in your covering letter. Your application may be kept on file for several months if there is nothing suitable now. But don’t let this deter you, get back in touch in a couple of months to remind the company you are still interested.