Speculative Applications

If you are interested in working for an organisation which isn't advertising vacancies, consider making a speculative application. For this approach to be effective, you will need to be organised, well researched and persistent.  

When making speculative applications, remember that reading your CV may be a very small priority for employers in comparison with other pressing business activities. You need to clearly show the employer that you are enthusiastic about working for them and that you have the skills, knowledge and qualities that they would find useful.

This is particularly the case if you are applying for competitive fields (such as the media) where roles do not tend to be advertised and employers may receive a steady stream of speculative applications from newcomers wanting to break into the industry.

The following steps will improve your success:

1) Identify companies that you’d like to work for

Use general business directories such as Yell or Kompass which offer a quick way to search for organisations according to their business service and location.  

Also use directories specific to the industry that you're interested in. In the Careers Centre we have numerous sector specific directories and our subject specific careers information also lists relevant information sources and directories.

Networking in the industry you'd like to break into may also provide ideas about companies you'd like to approach and potential leads.

2) Write a CV and covering letter

Many people send a standard CV and covering letter to hundreds of employers, thinking that if they send out enough, they are bound to eventually get a response. This is a mistake. It is far better to send out fewer CVs that are targeted to the employer's needs. You need to research the employer so that you know about their business functions, their products and their clients. Check our guidance on CVs for tips.

3) Find out who to send your CV to

In a small company this is likely to be the general manager/ owner, but in a big organisation it is generally better to send your CV to the person in charge of the department that you’re interested in working for rather than the HR department. If you intend to submit your CV electronically make sure that you also find out the email address of this person.

4) Follow up your CV

If you don't hear from the company, ring them; perhaps they got sidetracked and didn't respond to you, or maybe they didn't receive your CV. Contacting them again gives you another opportunity to demonstrate your suitability and enthusiasm. It is vital that you impress the employer and that you appear professional, courteous and articulate.