A speculative job application is where a person looking for a job sends an application to a company without a job actually being advertised. It can be a highly effective way of getting jobs, internships and work experience placements that either haven’t been advertised yet, or won’t ever be advertised.
Why would a company not advertise a role?
Many jobs can be found on something commonly referred to as the ‘hidden job market.’
Target Jobs explain: “Many jobs aren’t advertised, particularly in the media, charity work, design and environmental work.”
The hidden job market consists of the huge amount of jobs that are not advertised, because:
- It’s cheaper
- A company may want to keep the fact they’re hiring a secret from the public
- Companies prefer to find a small number of quality applicants through headhunting
- Companies prefer to find employees through referrals or networking. (A LinkedIn survey has revealed that around 85% of jobs are filled through referrals or networking)
Writing a speculative job application is an effective way of getting your foot in the door of the hidden job market and putting yourself forward for these roles.
Tips for writing a speculative application
1. Sell yourself
If you’ve ever had a cold-calling sales job, you’ll know how hard it is to convince someone to buy something out of the blue. Take this into consideration when you write your speculative job application. Remember that the company doesn’t know who you are and your communication is unsolicited, so you need to convince them to take notice and consider your application seriously.
Don’t just ask them what opportunities they have for you. Before you approach any employers, think carefully about what exactly you have to offer them and why they should ask you in for an interview. Do your research and find out everything you can, from the company’s history, to its aims and values, to its future plans for growth.
2. Don’t use a ‘one-size-fits-all’ application
Employers can tell when you’ve written one generic cover letter and sent it out to as many inboxes as possible. To make sure your application stands out, write a completely new, or at least highly tailored, application each time.
It’s a common assumption that chasing your job application, whether speculative or not, can seem too keen or pushy and only serves to irritate employers, but that is not the case. Once you’ve sent your application, feel free to follow-up a few days later – it is likely to put you at an advantage. Here are a few tips for following-up:
- Aim to follow-up within 3-5 days
- Contact the right person. You can do this by researching online or contacting the HR department to find out who is in charge of the recruitment process.
- Use your subject line to get your email noticed. When following up by email try not to be too dry or formulaic and instead be creative and show your personality.
- Don’t overdo it and send multiple follow-ups, as this will put employers off.