Making Speculative Approaches | Making Speculative Approaches – Oxford University Careers Service
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Overview

A speculative application involves proactively approaching an employer to seek out opportunities that have not been advertised.

These may be necessary for:

  • Work in employment areas in which vacancies are rarely advertised (eg journalism, broadcasting, publishing)
  • Vacation work
  • Unpaid work experience or work shadowing

 

Who to contact

Think about who you know – friends, family, tutors – that might help you get in touch with someone in the organisation or sector of interest. At Oxford you also have access to alumni contacts that can be very helpful in this regard – for example through your college alumni office and department. For more ideas about how to develop your network and find contacts, see our webpage on Networking.

Some sectors and organisations may have different recruitment timelines from the traditional “milkround” (which is typically from September – December), so ensure that you do some research on the ideal time to apply.  eg: contact the organisation or try to find out from contacts at what time of year your application is most likely to get noticed.

Top tips

Example Speculative Cover Letter

A speculative application usually consists of a CV and Cover Letter, but could be preceded or followed up with a telephone call. A few pointers:

  • Write to a named individual if at all possible.
  • Download an example speculative cover letter for ideas.
  • Match the tone of the letter to the organisation. For example, a media company may appreciate a less formal approach than a law firm, which is more likely to appreciate a more traditional approach.
  • Careful targeting is far more likely to lead to success than sending out numerous near-identical applications.
  • Research the role, organisation and sector and demonstrate your understanding in your letter. Allow your motivation and interest to come through and you will stand out as a knowledgeable applicant.
  • Clearly and quickly establish what you want and why. If your goal is work experience, don’t cut out any chance that the recipient may be able to offer, say, a work shadowing opportunity. Be clear about what you would be interested in, but don’t close any doors!
  • Make it clear what you have to offer them. You are making a business proposition, and must prepare your case carefully and research the organisation.
  • Suggest that you will follow up your letter by telephone within, say, a week.
  • Follow our standard advice for writing CVs and Cover Letters. For example, tailor each speculative application to the organisation, and demonstrate how your experience and achievements are relevant.
Our resources
This information was last updated on 08 September 2015.
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Recent blogs about Making Speculative Approaches

OUIP International Internships: Just over a week to apply!

Blogged by Rachel Ruscombe-King on February 11, 2016.

A huge variety of global internships is on offer exclusively to Oxford students through the Internship Programme. The application deadline is coming soon: midnight Sunday February 21st. Opportunities range from museum curation in St Petersburg, to environmental research in Brazil, international development in Kenya, and management consultancy in Hong Kong.

All internships are listed on CareerConnect, and applications are made directly through the system. Students can apply for up to three international vacancies, and two in the UK batch which will be listed from February 22nd onwards. More international internships will also be added from March 14th, at which point an unlimited number of additional applciations can be made.

For help with any OUIP internship applications students can come to a drop-in session to get one to one support. Stay up to date by signing up for Internship Office email alerts – our internships in the UK will be made available as soon as applications for international internships close…

Recruiter in Residence – RBS

Blogged by Employer Relations Team on February 11, 2016.
  • When: Tuesday 23rd February
  • Where: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road

RBS are visiting the Careers Service to provide advice and guidance on their 2016 graduate programme, their 2016 summer internships (now open), and for general careers or employability advice.

They say:

“You can just drop in and see us if you have a job related query of any shape or size or if you want to know more about any of our many graduate and intern positions. Remember, most of our roles require no specific degree discipline so come and speak to us about opportunities to develop your career. We would especially like to hear from anyone interested in an internship or career in Technology.”

Appointments are available to book one week beforehand. To make an appointment you will need to book your time slot through CareerConnect. Login to CareerConnect and search under events, click on ‘Book Now’ and select an available time. If your preferred time is not available you will be added to a waiting list and notified if it becomes available.

If you have any particular requirements, that may help you to access this event, then please do share them with us prior to attending by contacting reception@careers.ox.ac.uk or telephone 01865 274646.

Let’s Talk Rubbish: Crowdsourcing Competition from PwC

Posted on behalf of PwC. Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on February 10, 2016.

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Register now and post your ideas, comment on other people’s ideas and vote on the ideas you think really stand out, and you could have the opportunity to pitch your idea to a panel, and win £1,000 plus an exclusive work shadowing opportunity.

Register now and PwC will send you a password and link to the challenge website subject to you meeting the eligibility requirements. The Competition closes on 29th February.

Law Society Diversity Access Scheme

Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on February 10, 2016.

The Law Society Diversity Access Scheme is now open for applications.  The scheme aims to promote social mobility in the legal profession by supporting promising entrants who also face exceptional social, educational, financial or personal obstacles to qualification. There are three elements:

• Financial assistance with the Legal Practice Course
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Applications and details of the criteria can be found on the Law Society’s website.

The closing date is 6th April 2016.

Oxfam Essay Competition – tax and human rights

Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on February 10, 2016.

A new competition has been initiated by Oxfam and the Tax Justice Network, and will be judged by a panel chaired by Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, a Senior Research Fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) who from 2008 to 2014 was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

The winners of the competition will be invited to London to present their essay at the Tax Justice Network’s annual conference in April. Entries will be accepted in English, French or Spanish.

The closing date is 13th March 2016 and more details are available on Oxfam’s website.

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