Help! How can I submit speculative job applications

Dear Aunty, 

Is it possible to contact employers to ask for a job even if no job has been advertised? If so, what is the best way to do this?

Aunty says,

Speculative applications are requests for employment when a job advertisement has not been placed by the employer – in fact the employer may not even be looking to recruit at all! It may sound like a waste of time making speculative applications but they can work and should form part of your job seeking strategy. Why?

  1. An employer may have been thinking about recruiting but may not have got around to writing a job advert and advertising the job.
  2. You make an amazing speculative job application (via email, letter, telephone or face-to-face) that convinces an employer to hire you.

What you need to know before making a speculative job application

If you are making a speculative job application you should:

  • Ensure that you can demonstrate your understanding of the organisation and the sector in which it operates
  • Be clear about the type of opportunity that you are seeking
  • Explain what you can offer the organisation and provide examples that highlight your suitability
  • Show genuine enthusiasm for the opportunity to work with them

How to submit speculative job application

Speculative job applications can consist of an application letter (see Application Letter Basics) detailing why an employer might want to consider offering you employment, together with a CV (see CV Basics) outlining your relevant skills and experience. You can also make speculative job applications in person, via telephone and even though social media.

Whatever method(s) you choose you should:

  1. Create a shortlist of organisations based on location, industry, profession, area of interest or a combination of these factors.
  2. Research the organisation to learn more about their aims, values and the competencies they seek in their employees.
  3. Try to match the tone of your approach to that of the organisation. For example, a fashion retailer may want someone with a more individual sense of style as opposed to legal or accountancy practice who may want someone who understands business style.
  4. Where possible try to address your application to a named individual or function (e.g. Head of HR/IT) and always be polite and professional.
  5. Follow up your application a few days later (see How to follow up a job advert). This is an opportunity to remind the employer of your interest and relevant skills and experience. It also gives you the opportunity and to answer any questions that an employer might want to ask you.

Remember, it is generally better to send a few carefully researched and individual speculative job applications than 100s of generic job applications. Employers can receive 100s of speculative job applications so in order to stand out you need to put some effort into your application. See the articles entitled 5 common application mistakes and How to improve your application success rate for more information.

I hope that this information will of use to you and others in Zambia and wish you all the best with your speculative job applications.

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