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 sectors where vacancies are rarely advertised (eg: journalism, broadcasting, publishing, television and film)
  • 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, you can contact people through the Oxford Careers Network (for current students only), the university and/or your college alumni office. 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 which time of year is best to submit your application.

If you are looking for work experience or internships, it might also be worth contacting the recruiting or HR team of the company you are interested in to find out whether they offer this.

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  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.
  • 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.
  • You may wish to follow up your letter with a phone call (1-2 weeks after you have sent it) to check that it was received and if there is any feedback.
Our resources
This information was last updated on 14 September 2016.
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Recent blogs about Making Speculative Approaches

University Advocacy Day at Gray’s Inn

Blogged by Annie Dutton on September 13, 2016.

Do you want to be a barrister?  Do you know what will be required of you as you pursue a career at the Bar?

If you answered yes, then you may be interested in applying for and attending the University Advocacy Day held by Gray’s Inn.

  • Where: Gray’s Inn, London
  • When: Saturday 15 October 2016
  • Time: 11am to 7pm
  • Cost: Free

This event is  available to  3rd or 4th year law students who are interested in pursuing a career at the Bar, and have not already joined an Inn of Court, will have an opportunity to meet and listen to what leading barristers say are the key elements of good advocacy; to participate in a facilitated case analysis; discuss ethics dilemmas, and finally, under the guidance of accredited advocacy trainers, to get on their feet and perform a bit of advocacy themselves.

There will also be detailed talks on applying for BPTC scholarships from Gray’s Inn.The day will end with a drinks and canapés reception in Hall hosted by judicial and barrister members of the Inn who sit and/or practise in all areas of law and at all levels.

The day consists of:

  • An Introduction from The Treasurer, David Hunt QC.
  • A lecture on Advocacy from Mukul Chawla QC, Head of Chambers at 9-12 Bell Yard.
  • A talk on scholarships from Nathalie Lieven QC
  •  Training from leading practitioners and judgessuch as Mark Ellison QC, Head of Chambers at QEB Hollis Whiteman, Mukul Chawla QC, Christina Michalos of 5 Raymond Buildings Chambers and many more.  

 

Once you have decided that you want to become a barrister, there is much you can and should do as early as possible to gain these experiences and more.  Coming to the Bar is challenging enough – do all you can as early as you can to put yourself in a strong position.  This is an ideal opportunity for you to do just that.

To Apply

Please complete and submit the application form on Gray’s Inn website.

Application deadline is mid-day on Friday 30th September 2016.

 

Japan research collaboration event in London

Posted on behalf of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Blogged by Rachel Bray on September 8, 2016.

Do you collaborate with researchers in Japan or wish to start?

Japan’s leading funding agency, JSPS, invites researchers of all career levels and their colleagues/students to a research promotion conference and reception at the Japan Embassy London on Wednesday 16th November from 2 pm to 7.30 pm.

For researchers from all fields, this event aims to strengthen networks and facilitate funding applications or job-hunting. Participants will meet new potential collaborators from a variety of research fields, share their interests and have opportunity to talk to funders including Research Councils, the Royal Society and the British Academy.

There is no specific theme, and all research fields are eligible including the humanities and social sciences.

You may invite one colleague/student along and one of you will give a 5 minute presentation on your current research, focusing on its strengths, its challenges and how you want to collaborate with other UK, RoI or Japan based researchers.

Apply Soon! To secure your slot, send your 100 word abstract with 3 research keywords by Monday 19th September to Polly Watson. Please also state which of the parallel sessions you would like to join, (a) Humanities and Social Sciences, (b) Medical and Life Sciences or (c) Engineering and Physical Sciences.

JSPS will provide a £30 travel subsidy to the first 30 pre/postdoctoral researchers accepted to present. The best two presenters in each session will be invited to give their presentation again in the final session to all participants to encourage cross-disciplinary innovation.

Further enquiries: Polly Watson Tel: +44-(0)20-7255-4660

Keen to explore working for the UN?

Posted on behalf of Sir David Bell, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Blogged by Rachel Bray on September 8, 2016.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office will host a Talent Outreach Event for University staff and DPhil students from any discipline – women in particular – to encourage them to join or work with the UN.

Speakers from various UN agencies and offices will describe the range of opportunities including permanent postings, secondments and part-time expert roles on specific missions.

This event, on Wed 16th November 11 am – 3pm at the University of Reading, is primarily aimed at senior and mid-career staff, with a specific session on opportunities for post-graduate researchers.  No previous experience of the UN or multilateralism is required!

Oxford has been invited to nominate up to 5 staff and 5 post-graduate researchers (including DPhil students) to participate. Please submit two short paragraphs, the first on you and your experience and the second on your motivation, to competition@careers.ox.ac.uk by noon on Monday 26th September.

Applications will be reviewed by a small team from the Careers Service and elsewhere in the University with related professional experience, and successful nominees notified by 7th October.

Enquiries to Rachel.Bray@careers.ox.ac.uk

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