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How to Make a Speculative Application

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 2 Aug 2011 | comments*Discuss
Speculative Application Career Change

When you’re thinking about making a career change it is important to think outside the box. Rather than simply updating your CV and sending it out to recruitment agencies, why not try making a speculative application?

It’s really worth trying, especially in the current economic climate, as not only will you come across as self-motivated and proactive, you’ll potentially save your new employer thousands of pounds in recruitment fees. It’s a win-win situation, as long as you approach the speculative application in the right manner.

Getting it wrong can have quite the opposite effect because you can look like you’re an undesirable employee that has to source your own work, rather than a dynamic go-getter. But what is the right manner? Follow this four-step plan and you’ll be in The Job Of Your Dreams in no time.

1. Research Potential Employers

Start by taking time to think about what type of job you want and What Company You’d Like To Work For. Don’t fall into the trap of just repeating the same thing you’ve always done. If you’re thinking about making a career change, then now is the time. That said, you don’t want to waste any skills and experience unnecessarily – perhaps there is some crossover with a new career that will still utilise what you have achieved so far.

You are likely to have a type of company in mind, or even a particular company that you have always admired, or that you know people that are happy working there. Research them in more detail on the internet and speak to anyone you know that has a connection that you may be able to take advantage of.

If you don’t have a company in mind, read through relevant trade press, do internet searches using your skills as key words or speak to a career advisor. Don’t rush this stage as it will save you time and hassle in the long run.

2. Prepare your Pitch

Once you have decide which company or companies you wish to approach speculatively, you need to prepare your pitch. You need to get the balance right between sounding keen and interested and looking desperate.

Even if you don’t end up sending lots of information to the company, now is the time to prepare Your CV and any information that’s suited to your career, such as a showreel, a portfolio or links to URLs.

Print out your CV and get a red pen – be really critical. Make sure it’s no more than two pages, with clear contact details on the top of the first page. Don’t repeat skills in different jobs, keep it succinct and don’t put anything too personal – omitting things about children, religion or politics is a good guide.

3. Pick Up the Phone

Make sure you’re not going to be disturbed one morning or afternoon (not lunchtime) and sit with the phone, a notepad and your list of potential employers. Have a copy of your CV to hand and be ready to email it if necessary.

Take a deep breath and call the first company. If you didn’t find out the relevant names in your research, ask to speak to the person that deals with recruitment, be put through to HR or the manager of the relevant department. Perhaps start with your least favourite company so you can gain a bit of confidence.

Once you’re speaking to the right person, introduce yourself. Say that you’re an experienced management consultant/Interior Designer/sales manager or whatever and that you’re keen to speak to them about potential employment opportunities. Try, “I don’t know if you’re recruiting at the moment but I would like to talk to you in more detail about working at x.” Go on to say what appeals to you about the company and why you’re targeting them.

If you are asked to send your CV, do so promptly. If they’re not currently recruiting, ask for your details to be kept on file, if that suits you.

4. Follow Up

Having gone to so much effort, it would be a waste to not follow up your phone call, particularly if you have not had any email contact. Start by saying that you enjoyed your phone conversation and would like to know if there has been any progress with your speculative application. If you have had some email contact, send another email to ask the same thing.

Writing a Covering Letter

A covering letter is so important as it gives a potential employer the first impression of you, and can determine whether or not your CV is even looked at. For tips on writing an impressive covering letter, read our article Job Applications and Covering Letters.

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