How to write a speculative application

13 May Career Advice
Did you know that only 30% of all new jobs are ever advertised?

That means a whopping 70% of new jobs are not advertised on a jobs board. That’s a huge number of opportunities, but how do you go about finding these hidden jobs? After all, this could be your perfect role!

The number one way to get a around this and make sure you are not missing out on potential opportunities to is write a speculative application. But what exactly does that mean? Let’s explore how to successfully write a speculative application to ensure you never miss out on the dream job.

1. What is it?

A speculative application is a targeted application to an employer to ask whether they have a suitable job for you in their organisation, even though they aren’t currently advertising a vacancy. It usually involves sending your CV and a cover letter outlining why you are contacting them and some information on your previous experience and what you can bring to the company.

2. Make a shortlist

Before you write your application, you should research the industry you are wanting to secure a job in and make a shortlist of all the employers you want to make contact with.

You can find these companies online, or alternatively in trade magazines such as Ulster Business, Hospitality Review etc. These are great resources and provide you with a potential hit list of employers.

Another great way of finding companies is on social media, particularly LinkedIn, which provides you with the names and profiles of current employees who could also help facilitate an introduction.

Local newspapers or your university careers section may also be good resources to check out. Once you have your list its time for step three.

3. Research the organisation

This is an important stage in the application process. You need to find out details about the company, everything from the company size and projects they have worked on, to their aims and values etc. It is important to make sure you are knowledgeable and well-informed.
Start by looking on the company website to find out more about how the it operates and get a feel for what it does. You may also find out a bit more information on their future plans, such as if they are planning on expanding their team or their operations.

Another good place to look is on a company’s social media channels. This can be a good way to go ‘behind the scenes’ and see what the company is like to work for. You may be able to get a feel for the personality of the brand and see whether it is a good match for you. It is also a good idea to follow them to make sure you stay up to date with their news, events, new vacancies etc.

4. Tailor your application

A speculative application should be carefully thought out and targeted to each employer, you should not adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach, each application should be tailored to fit each organisation that you are sending your CV and cover letter too.

You need to be sure of what exactly it is you are asking for, e.g.: a permanent role or work experience? You need to consider how you are going to sell yourself to the employer, thinking about this at the start will help you begin to formulate your application.

On your cover letter, set out in simple terms what you are looking for and why you are interested in working for them, alongside more information about your relevant skills and experience. You should relate this experience to the employer, highlighting what you believe you can bring to the company and not what you think they can do for you.

5. Find a contact

Remember we mentioned LinkedIn? This is where it can come in useful! You must address your application to a named contact in the company, otherwise if it is a generic ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, it ls likely to be ignored or passed to the wrong person. From doing your research on the company website you may have found the name of the hiring manager or of the manager of the department you are interested in.

Alternatively, LinkedIn is a great way of discovering connections. A quick search on the employer profile will give you a list of people who work there and have a LinkedIn profile. If you can’t find who you are looking for, give the company a call and ask for the name of the person who is responsible for recruitment.

6. Follow up your application

Allow up to two weeks after sending your application before making contact. While it is good to be persistent, if you contact them before this, they may not have had time to read your email and it could come across as pestering. Be patient. Talking on the phone can help establish a rapport and create a better impression.

You should also be open-minded. The company may come back and offer something different to what you were looking for. Keep an open-mind and explore different opportunities, as this could be a good springboard to something else for you. Don’t automatically accept a role either, consider whether it is going to be right for you before making a decision.

If there aren’t any vacancies available at the moment, ask the employer to keep your details on file for any future vacancies. They may also give you advice on their recruitment process and when you can expect to see upcoming opportunities.

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