Speculative job applications can help you to access all kinds of hidden opportunities. They might not lead to a paid job immediately, but they can help you get your foot in the door and get access to the big decision-makers.
Not all jobs are explicitly advertised. Sometimes you have to make a business notice you to get an interview, particularly when your chosen specialism is niche or in demand.
The key is proving you’re great at what you do and be willing to wait for the right role with them. Here’s how to make sure your speculative application CV impresses:
Do your research
One of the main functions of a speculative application is to demonstrate you’re really interested in working for that particular company.
They’ll be especially impressed if you’ve learned a lot about them, how they work and what they’re looking for in their employees. A targeted approach is always more powerful and personal – “I want to work for you” needs to be backed up with information and evidence.
Look for other jobs the business has advertised, even if they’re not relevant. They’ll demonstrate what skills and experience they see as desirable, their workplace culture and their expectations. Plus, you can even take a sneaky look at what the application process looks like!
Keep it tailored
It can take a lot for a business to pay attention to speculative applications, mainly because they’re short on time and not actively hiring. But by being specific and targeted, they’ll see how serious you are about getting in front of the right person.
You should always edit your CV to suit the business you’re contacting, even if you’re not applying for a particular role. You can use the research mentioned above to do this. The employer wants to see how interested you are in joining the company, as well as what you could contribute.
And remember, this applies to each and every speculative application you put forward!
Perfect the top quarter
Many employers will only read the top section of a CV before deciding whether it’s worth reading any further. Others will give it a quick skim and look for specific words and qualifications before they move on.
Because of these recruiter tactics, your profile and core skills section are extra important and must sell you and your experience. In a few lines, explain what you do, how much experience you have and what your most impressive (and relevant) skills are.
Add further wow factor by chiming in on your previous achievements and accomplishments, including how well you’ve met targets in the past and any awards or accolades you’ve received. Basically, if there’s something to shout about, it needs to go in the top quarter.
Nail the cover letter
Your CV is mainly fast facts and core information, but your cover letter is where you can sell yourself in far more detail.
How to write an interview-winning speculative cover letter:
- Keep it concise. The content should be short and sharp to keep busy recruiters and decision-makers interested.
- Address someone by name. Send your CV to an individual if you can, rather than a generic email address.
- Focus on what you have to offer. Explain why your experience is relevant and what you can bring to the specific
- Be professional but friendly. Write like a human – your reader will appreciate it!
Even if it feels like a long shot, speculative applications can help you get noticed by the right people. All you need to do is make it easy for your reader to get to know you and show off your experience in the best light. The rest is up to them.
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV