Not all graduate jobs are advertised - to find these hidden roles you'll need to write a speculative application to a company you're interested in working for
Being proactive in this way can give you access to a much wider variety of roles and increase your chances of success in the competitive job market
What is a speculative application?
Making a speculative application simply means getting in touch with an organisation to ask whether they have a suitable job for you, despite the fact that they aren't advertising a particular vacancy. It usually involves sending a cover letter and a CV.
Of course, major graduate schemes and roles at large companies will usually be advertised and you can apply in the normal way. But if you rely solely on responding to job adverts you may miss out on a range of opportunities, especially in the charity, design, environmental and media sectors where applying 'on spec' is common practice.
Speculative applications provide a direct route into the company and making contact with recruiters can lead to:
- temporary or permanent work
- internships or work shadowing opportunities
- increased business connections.
Even if it turns out there isn't a job available, your positive approach may impress the employer sufficiently that they'll bear you in mind for future vacancies that arise.
Search for employers
To be successful with a speculative application you need to be organised from the start. Rushing off a standard CV without any context or explanation won't cut it.
Start by drawing up a shortlist of employers to target by focusing on the sectors and companies that interest you. For ideas browse employer profiles
or attend careers fairs. Once you've identified where you'd like to work, and checked that they aren't advertising vacancies, you'll need to do some background research so that you are knowledgeable and well-informed.
Look on company websites to find out how the organisation operates and get a feel for what it does. What projects is it working on? Are there any plans for growth or expansion? Follow the organisation's social media channels to keep up to date with the company's current events and activities.
Tailor your approach
Take some time to think about exactly what you’re trying to achieve and what you want to happen next. Are you going to ask for a permanent role or an internship? How are you going to sell yourself to the company? How can you persuade them that you're a good match for what they need? You need to be clear in your own mind before you start sending any applications.
Your cover letter and CV must be tailored to each company. Set out in simple terms what you are looking for and why you have chosen them, then highlight your relevant skills and experiences. The emphasis should be on what you can bring to the company, not on what they can do for you, as the last thing you want is to sound like you're begging for work.
In order to reach somebody with hiring authority, make sure you send your application to a named contact. If you can't find the relevant contact information on the company website, try searching LinkedIn or make a phone call to ask who is in charge of recruitment. Always be polite in your dealings with the employer.
Find more information on perfecting your CV and cover letter
, and discover how to put together a winning application with this example cover letter for a speculative job application.
Follow up your application
About one or two weeks after sending, follow up your application with a phone call. This gives your contact time to read your email - while it's good to be persistent, pestering the company will not show you in a good light.
Should the employer decide they'd like to meet you, it's time to explore interview tips
Be aware that you may be offered something different to what you asked for - for example, a work placement or internship instead of a graduate job. At this stage you can be flexible, but don't automatically accept - make sure you think about whether it's right for you.
If no opportunities are available, ask the company to keep your details on file for future. They may be able to give you advice on how they go about recruiting graduates and when vacancies are likely to arise.
Working while studying
Monday 12 November 2018Careers and Jobs
If you want to self-fund your Masters and avoid postgraduate debt, full-time work and part-time study is a viable option.
Working while studying can be financially and professionally beneficial, but balancing earning and learning is difficult. Getting the best from postgraduate study requires resilience, good time management, genuine enthusiasm for your course and dedication to see it through to its conclusion. To succeed, you must implement routines and plan each day in advance.
Most importantly, you must have open and honest conversations with your employer and potential course leader before applying for postgraduate study, as this will make the arrangement run more smoothly. Discuss study timetables and working hours, and be clear that you’ll need to amend each accordingly.
Find out more
Monday 12 November 2018Careers and Jobs
An internship is a period of work experience, offered by an organisation, usually lasting for a fixed, limited period of time. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills and experience in a particular field.
Employers frequently use these placements to assess a student’s or graduate’s capability and often recruit employees from their interns rather than advertising their vacancies externally. You should therefore apply for an internship which you have real interest in.
Find out more