Speculative cover letters: What you need to know

How do you get a job without a job advert? It’s all speculative…

Unfortunately, some vacancies won’t always be advertised online. But instead of getting discouraged when your perfect position isn’t on offer, there is another way to stand out to recruiters and find a job with a company you love.

We’ve already covered what cover letters are, but here’s our guide to speculative cover letters (just in case):

 

What is a speculative cover letter?

A speculative cover letter is sent alongside your CV when you apply to a company that isn’t currently advertising for staff.

Rather than being written with a particular position in mind, they’re usually more tailored to the company – selling your skills, experience and potential should any potential vacancies arise.

How to: Write a cover letter 

Free cover letter template

 

What should a speculative cover letter include?

OK, so the specifics of what to include will vary depending on the job you’re applying for. Not to mention where you currently are in your career.

However, the format of a speculative letter will be fairly similar to a standard cover letter:

  • Start with your personal information (e.g. name, address and contact details – never include a national insurance number or bank details).
  • Include a manager’s name (if you have it)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (if you don’t have a name)
  • A first main paragraph outlining what kind of role you’re looking for, and why you want to work for the company
  • A second paragraph explaining a bit more about your own skills and background
  • A closing paragraph to sum up why you’d be a great fit for the company, and how they could benefit from hiring you
  • A thank you for their time, and a professional sign-off (e.g. ‘Yours faithfully’)

 

Why should I send one?

Companies may not always advertise their available roles, for a variety of different reasons.

It could be that they’ve only just come up, or that they have to wait for internal applicants before putting the job out there. Or they might just not have any current vacancies on offer.

However, by sending a speculative application, you can demonstrate that you’re proactive and ahead of the game when it comes to your career. And even if they don’t have any roles at the moment, you’ll ensure you’re front-of-mind if a suitable position does come up.

Because the company might need you – even if they don’t know it yet.

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How does it differ from my CV?

Cover letters are important for all applications, but they take on even more importance for speculative ones.

CVs tend to be rigid, professional and impersonal. In contrast, your cover letter allows you to create a rapport with the reader and showcase how right you are for the company in a much more engaging way.

And, without a specific job to apply for, you need to work even harder to stand out. A well-written cover letter will talk about your skills, previous projects and selling points, and help keep you keep front of mind if any suitable jobs do come up.

 

How long should it be?

Just over half a page of A4 – and no longer.

It should outline why you’re a great potential hire, and what makes you a great fit for the company. It should not be War and Peace.

 

Should I include some research about the company?

Yes.

Let’s face it, recruiters are as prone to flattery as anyone else. By explaining why you want to work for their company, without even knowing if there are any roles available, you instantly demonstrate that you buy in to their product or company culture.

A few well-researched facts could be all it takes to back your interest up, not to mention show your dedication to the business before you’ve even joined.

Big or small company: Which is right for you

How to: Research a company before you apply

 

How do I send a speculative application?

Firstly, try and find the appropriate person to address it to (e.g. the hiring manager, or a member of the HR team).

If you can find their email address, great. You can send it to general addresses, but it’s likely to get lost in the sea of other emails – so make sure it has a killer subject line.

Alternatively you can post the application, if you have the company’s address.

 

What do I do next?

Now you wait.

Usually the company will get in touch, to let you know whether they have any available positions, and if your application has been successful. However, this could take a little time to come through.

Alternatively, contacting the recruiter a few weeks after you send it is a great way to find out if they received your speculative cover letter and CV, as well as getting constructive feedback.

Remember: speculative cover letters won’t always work. But you won’t know until you try.

After all, what have you got to lose?

Four ways to follow-up after an application

 

 

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