Hand holding pen

Rather than rely solely on advertised vacancies, making a speculative application can be a useful part of your job hunting strategy. This involves approaching an organisation directly about the possibility of working for them and promoting the skills and experience you have to offer.

It is vital that you develop a methodical approach if you want your speculative applications to be successful.

Why make speculative applications?
  • Between 50 - 70% of all job vacancies are never advertised! This is particularly the case with work experience, internships or industrial placements.
  • Small or medium-sized organisations account for 99% of all UK businesses and therefore often do not have the time or budget to deal with large volumes of applications generated by job adverts.
  • In industries where demand for jobs far outstrips supply, companies may have no need to advertise. Vacancies within these organisations are often filled through speculative applications, or through networking.
Do your research
  • Identify companies you may wish to approach.
  • Consider carefully the kind of opportunities they may be able to provide
  • Bring yourself up to speed on the current issues in their industry

By following this approach you will develop a clearer idea of why you want to work in that industry, for that employer, and in that particular role.

You will find useful links to organisations in different industries on our Industry Insights pages.

Target your CV and cover letter

Having done your research, you can now tailor your CV and covering letter to each employer. The key to success is to convince them to consider you for a position they haven't actively advertised.

Obviously, this requires a lot of time and effort on your part, but there is no short cut to doing this effectively!! You will be wasting everyone's time if you take the easy route and simply send them out a 'general' CV.

Don't forget to also ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date as some employers will check this out to further assess your suitability.

See our pages for more on producing targetted CVs and cover letters.

If at first you don't succeed.....

If your initial approach is unsuccessful, don't be put off!

If it's clear that there are definitely no opportunities within the organisation, you will need to consider alternative employers.

However, where the employer's response is a bit more ambiguous, it might be worthwhile being persistent.

Rather than focussing on a job opportunity, you could, perhaps, ask for advice on how to progress your career plans. This will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your genuine motivation for the company and industry, making any follow-up conversations about possible openings more credible.

It is understandable that busy employers may well ignore first approaches, but genuinely interested applicants making a second contact might encourage them to give your application further attention.