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

Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Endorsement

Blogged by John Gilbert on July 22, 2016.

If you have an idea for a business, have a venture currently in development, or are piloting a new concept, you may be eligible to apply for endorsement under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa scheme, which allows non-EEA nationals who are graduates or post-doctoral researchers to reside in the UK in order to develop their business.

Previously endorsed businesses have included:

  • Social enterprises and not-for-profits
  • Technology start-ups
  • Funding generation and investment organisations
  • Digital education tools
  • Energy research

The University of Oxford can endorse up to thirty applicants per year. Calls for applications are held four times a year: once in each term, and once during the Long Vacation. The next deadline for applications is Wednesday 7th September 2016 at 12 noon. Applications are now open, and you must apply via Symplicity (for Said Business School students) or CareerConnect (all other students/alum) using the following vacancy IDs:

  • for Students: CareerConnect opportunity ID 25400
  • for Alumni: CareerConnect opportunity ID 25392

You can find more information and details of how to apply on our visa page or on CareerConnect. Alternatively you can email timothy.collins@careers.ox.ac.uk. All applications must be submitted through CareerConnect. The deadline for applications is Wednesday 7th September 2016 at 12 noon.

Internships Essential Information

Blogged by Rachel Ruscombe-King on July 22, 2016.

If you are doing an internship or work experience abroad, make sure you visit the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (or your home country’s equivalent) for the latest travel advice by country – including safety and security, travel warnings and health. This resource also has an email alert facility for specific countries.

For other essential pre-departure information, don’t forget to check out our Practical Advice on Work Experience Abroad.

If you’re on our Internship Programme, also read our Information for Successful Applicants which has extra, specific advice for you. And if you have any concerns relating to travel or adjusting to life in a host country during your placement on the Internship Programme, please contact your employer, or email internships@careers.ox.ac.uk.

Questions about Brexit? Venture may help!

Blogged by Karan Karasinska on July 21, 2016.

Many of you may have questions about international opportunities and the impact which the Brexit referendum result will have on these. A good source of answers is Venture – a subscription resource, accessible for free via the Careers Service, that has lots of information on 57 countries both inside and outside of Europe, and will be updating the content on their site as things change.

You can access Venture via the Careers Service website.

Once logged in, click on their ‘News’ tab and then ‘Newsletters’ to read “July 2016 – How could Brexit impact your students?”.

FDM – the UK’s leading IT Graduate Employer: Open Evenings

Blogged by Karan Karasinska on July 21, 2016.

A number of Open Evenings are scheduled throughout the summer and in the autumn where you can find out more about the FDM Group.

This is a chance for you to find out more about FDM’s Technical and Business IT consultant roles from current consultants and senior management.

Each evening will include:

  • An introduction to FDM’s Graduate Programme
  • Presentations on FDM’s ‘Technical’ and ‘Business’ IT consultant roles
  • Refreshments and networking

If you would like to attend, please email openevenings@fdmgroup.com to RSVP!

Their dates are:

 

 

Law Traineeship and Work Experience Fair in Aberdeen

Blogged by Karan Karasinska on July 21, 2016.

If you’re in Scotland over the summer and are interested in a legal career, an annual Law Fair is being held at the University of Aberdeen, from 11.00am-3.00pm, Thursday 29th September, 2016. 30-40 Law firms attend each year.

The Fair focuses on firms and other law related organisations advertising work experience, traineeships and graduate jobs for Scots LLB, LLM and Diploma in Professional Legal Practice students, as well as opportunities to train in England.

Full details are on the Prospects website.

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