Making Speculative Approaches | The Careers Service Making Speculative Approaches – Oxford University Careers Service
Oxford logo
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 and LinkedIn. 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, try to be open to the type of work experience (work shadowing, internship, visiting the organisation) you are willing to do. 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 27 September 2018.
Loading... Please wait
Recent blogs about Making Speculative Approaches

Charityworks Internships for BAME Students: Deadline Approaching

Posted on behalf of Charityworks. Blogged by Annie Dutton on 14/12/2018.

The Charityworks Taster Programme gives talented Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and graduates a top-class experience of working in the non-profit sector alongside the professional development tools needed to launch a professional career that can change the world. The programme also gives students fast-tracked access to the acclaimed Charityworks Graduate Programme in 2019. There are 40 opportunities available, and the deadline for applications is 17 December.

Charityworks places and develops top talent into organisations across the sector and includes amongst its partners, Mind, NSPCC, Unicef, Barnardo’s, Marie Stopes International, Christian Aid, National Housing Federation, RNLI, LGBT Foundation and many more.  Roles are as diverse as frontline, HR, fundraising, campaigning, finance, business development, IT & systems, research, policy and more.

If interested, apply here.

Apply now for The Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Health and Life Sciences!

Blogged by Fiona Sinclair on 14/12/2018.

Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Health and Life Sciences…

The purpose of the Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Health and Life Sciences programme is to provide early career researchers (DPhil students, RAs, and postdocs with an opportunity to develop the core employability skills required for a transition into analytical or policy roles in the sector.

Participants volunteer some of their own time to work in teams, over a 3-4 month period, to address a strategic issue or business opportunity for a client organisation in the health and life science sector. the programme is open to all disciplines and will offer participants a unique insight into the health and life sciences sector.

but it isn’t just about consulting!

The programme will provide participants with an opportunity to:

  • Experience an Assessment Centre and hone their presentation skills
  • Develop key employability skills such as business and customer awareness, strategic thinking, creativity, team working and communication
  • Demonstrate key employability skills in their CV and in job interviews
  • Tackle strategic business issues and opportunities and make a contribution to the sector
  • Gain an awareness of the commercial, social and behavioural contexts of professional environments.

Apply now

Applications for the Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Health and Life Sciences are now open. The closing date is 16 January (noon). APPLY HERE

If you have any queries regarding the programme, please email courses@careers.ox.ac.uk

Applications open for The Agency – Hilary Term 2019!

Blogged by Fiona Sinclair on 12/12/2018.

The Agency in Hilary Term…

The Agency was developed by The Careers Service and the Oxford Advertising and Marketing Society to help students gain practical experience working within an environment similar to a traditional creative agency – with real client projects from local businesses, charities and community organisations.

You will be working in small teams of six over one academic term to find a creative solution to an intellectually challenging problem.

… it isn’t just about marketing and advertising!

The Agency will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • Develop application and assessment centre skills;
  • Increase commercial awareness by tackling strategic business issues and concerns;
  • Gain specialised skills for working in a creative agency;
  • Develop other key employability skills useful in any career such as self-management, team working, problem solving and communication;
  • Produce demonstrable examples of keys skills for your CV or for use in job/internship interviews;
  • Contribute to the local community and gain work experience.

Apply now

Applications for The Agency programme in Hilary 2019 are now open. The closing date is 8 January (noon). APPLY HERE

To find out more about the programme visit The Agency webpage, or email us on courses@careers.ox.ac.uk.

Become a student ambassador for the Creative Industries Federation

Blogged by Lara Hayward on 06/12/2018.

Are you considering a career in the creative industries? Are you a passionate creative and looking for a new challenge? For current higher and further education students who have an interest in the creative industries, the Creative Industries Federation (“CIF”) are piloting a new Student Ambassador Programme. CIF Student Ambassadors will be representatives for the membership body at their universities, helping to spread the word about events and opportunities in the creative industries while making the most of the insight, research, events and networking benefits that the Federation can offer them.

A great opportunity to learn more about the creative industries and add experience to your CV.

For more information on the programme, click here.

Roundhouse Co-working Hub: Mentoring and masterclass opportunities in the creative industry

Blogged by Lara Hayward on 06/12/2018.

A new co-working space at the Roundhouse

Many people know the Roundhouse as a gig venue, or a place to see theatre, dance or circus. But what many people don’t know is that each year, 6,000 young people (aged 11-25) also come to the Roundhouse to take part in projects or use rehearsal and studio space right underneath the main auditorium where so many people have seen a show.

The Roundhouse’s Centre for Creative and Digital Entrepreneurs is a co-working space within the new campus, which will be built in the Roundhouse yard and will comprise three large studio spaces and a new outdoor bar for audiences. It will allow the Roundhouse to work with young people, up to the age of 30, so that they can support the next generation of record label owners, film producers and tech innovators to achieve their dreams. Through desk space, mentors and masterclasses they will help young people build their future in the creative industries. For further information on the pilot, see the Roundhouse Chief Executive and Artistic Director Marcus Davey’s blog post here

This page displays current related blog posts. If none display, you can still stay up-to-date with our newsletter sent regularly to all Oxford students.

Older posts can be found in our archive of past blogs.