speculative applications

What is a speculative application?

Looking for a job or placement can be physically and emotionally draining. As a job seeker, you feel like you are caught in an endless cycle of looking for opportunities, filling out applications and then waiting for a response. Some of you may also feel like you cannot find the right opportunities for you.

Why is this important?

The hidden job market is reported to be as high as 70% of the total number of jobs available

It is estimated that approximately 70% of jobs are never even advertised; so where are these vacancies? Some of them will be taken by internal candidates, and some jobs will be filled by word of mouth (for example, someone who is known to the recruiter). However, that still leaves a large chunk of jobs that might be available if you can find them.

It’s also worth remembering that some companies, especially SMEs, and some industries (for example, the creative sector), simply don’t have the resources to engage in traditional recruitment processes.

How can I find these jobs?

The first thing to say is that you need to know what you want to do, and understand the industry! For example, if you would like a job as an operating department practitioner, you will need to apply via the NHS Jobs portal. However, if you are looking for jobs in film and TV, then it is quite normal to send an email to people within the industry, to show your suitability and availability for work. This is called a ‘speculative application’.

The process

In simple terms, speculative approaches have three stages:

1 Shortlist: Who do you want to approach? Do you research and also see if you can find a specific person to contact within an organisation. Use your network and research via LinkedIn and company websites.

2 Application: This will usually consist of a covering email with your CV attached. Remember that they haven’t asked you to get in touch, so make sure that you are targeting your application, showing knowledge and awareness of the work they do and skills required.

3 Follow-up: It is perfectly normal to not receive a response from a speculative application, so set a reminder in your calendar, maybe for two weeks after your initial email. Do not ask why you haven’t received a reply, but check whether they have received your initial email and maybe ask if there is any further information that they need from you. This shows that you are still interested in working for them, but in a gentle and friendly way!

Tailored, targeted CVs will be more effective…and more manageable

Finally, a top tip: “work smarter, not harder”. It is usually far more effective to send three or four tailored enquiries or applications, than adopt a scattergun approach of just sending your CV to ten, twenty or more companies.

If you are not feeling confident about applying for jobs, or making speculative applications, then do visit the Warwick Careers website for further support, or you can get in touch.

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