Five steps to making speculative applications

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Sometimes, no matter how many recruitment agencies you sign up with or how often you scour the newspaper and internet looking for a job, you just can’t find anything that’s right for you.

Don’t lose faith. Instead, why not try speculative applications to companies that you’d particularly like to work for?

The ‘hidden’ job market is huge with an estimated 80% of all vacancies not advertised. So, what can you do to get yourself in the frame for one of these roles?

Speculative applications


I’ve had speculative applications turn up on my desk which have quite obviously been sent out ‘en masse’ – DON’T DO THIS!

Instead, do your homework so you can make your application relevant to the company. For example, if you want to work in marketing, make sure that the company does actually have a marketing department! You’d be surprised how many people don’t do the most basic research and simply send ‘spray and pray’ letters after looking through the phone book.

Company websites are obviously your first port of call but don’t forget social media, particularly LinkedIn.


Don’t take the easy option and start your letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom it May Concern’.

You can usually find this information online but, if not, pick up the phone and call the company in question. Speaking to the receptionist can sometimes pay dividends (depending how strictly they stick to their Data Protection policy!). Or you can ask to be put through to the HR department – a chat with someone in HR can often result in you finding out a lot more about the company and their hiring process.


Now that you’ve got all the details you need you can start putting a letter together. Make sure that you include:

  • your reason for writing and the position that interests you.
  • what you can offer the company, making sure that you tailor your skills to the role. If you have any relevant achievements, this is the time to talk about them.
  • what you know about the company and why you’d like to work for them. Just remember to be genuine and don’t come across as desperate.
  • a call to action – what do you hope to get from this letter?


I would recommend sending a letter rather than an e-mail. While e-mail might seem like the quickest way for it to reach its target you need to remember that managers receive dozens of e-mails each day and often don’t have time to deal with all of them straightaway (if, indeed, they do open them all! At least, letters are always opened).


If you haven’t heard anything within a week then you should follow up. I’d be inclined to make a phone call as it’s too easy for e-mails to be ignored.

Even if you get knocked back, don’t take it personally. Even if there are no vacancies now the fact that you’ve made contact means that your name will be out there if something does come up in the future.

If you’d like some help with your job search, you can download my free e-book ‘5 Steps to Job Search Success’ here.

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