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How to make a speculative application


There may be particular companies that you dream to work for as you know they are forward thinking organisations who offer excellent flexible working options from the point of hire.

You may have a named contact to follow up from your networking, or you may be approaching them without a contact. Whatever the case, speculative approaches do work.

To stand the best chance of success, bear in mind these top tips:

  • Always write to a person. Never to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
  • Identify the right person to contact by identifying the department to approach. Find the name of the department head and then phone to check you have the correct name.
  • If the company is small (below £2M turnover per year) and you are applying for a management role, try contacting the managing director or chief executive officer. Don’t contact the HR manager only.
  • Research the companies/organisations you want to contact, e.g. by looking at their websites, trade press, national press, networking with contacts who have worked there or know of them.
  • Target your approaches to companies that you have researched. Avoid a ‘scattergun’ approach.
  • Contact lots of organisations (as long as you are genuinely interested in working for them). You won’t get a yes from every contact you make by any means. 10 contacts may lead to 1 (very useful) meeting. There is no hard and fast rule to how many contacts you need to make to get results, but it’s fair to say that the greater the number of targeted approaches, the more chance of success. But remember to manage numbers so that you can follow up on the contacts you make. Networking is a numbers game.
  • Follow up on any approaches you make. Make a call to discuss your letter and CV, say, 7 days after you wrote. Expect to make more than one follow up call. You can follow up by email, but this may be less effective.

Take a look below at our sample cover letter for a speculative approach – please note we do not recommend mentioning your desire to work flexibly as one of the drivers for your job application. This is of course an aspect you want to achieve, but approaching a company speculatively is a time to sell yourself and really outline your passion for the job role, the company and how you feel you will positively contribute to the team.

Good luck with being bold and taking action – If you need any support remember to gain advice from a friend, recruitment consultant or undertake a 1-to-1 careers advice session with a career expert.

Sample cover letter format

Dear Dr/Prof/Mr/Ms/Mrs (name of employer):

Start with something complimentary about the organisation e.g. You are one of the leading companies / organisations in… say what field… in the UK and I am writing because of my interest in opportunities in the ….. project management / marketing / IT …side of your business.

I am…. (Describe the key skills and experience which you offer. Use the profile from your CV as a guide.) You will note from my CV that I have worked for… (mention relevant organisations / companies.) With these organisations I have had particular experience in…. (mention one or two relevant achievements.)

Thank you for taking the time to consider this enquiry. I would really value the chance to meet you, and understand that such a discussion would not necessarily mean there was any career opportunity in the immediate future.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,


Enc (enclose CV)

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