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

CME Group Trading Challenge

Posted on behalf of CME group. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on January 18, 2017.

CME Group’s Trading Challenge is a complimentary four-week electronic trading competition where teams of students can trade a variety of CME Group products in a simulated trading environment on a real-time professional trading platform.

Top ranking students will be eligible for cash prizes and exclusive CME Group experiences.

The Trading Challenge is a unique chance for students to learn hands-on techniques for trading futures. Teams must consist of 3 to 5 members from the same university and each must elect a student leader.

Registration for the competition closes on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 @ 5:00 p.m. CT

For more information see www.cmegroup.com/education/trading_challenge.html

UN development competition for Masters students

Posted on behalf of VC's office. Blogged by Rachel Bray on January 18, 2017.

Looking for a career in international development? Keen to apply an inter-disciplinary approach to a practical problem and expand your professional network?

Entries are now open for the 2017 Geneva Challenge – the Advancing Development Goals International Contest for graduate students under the patronage of Kofi Annan, run by The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

The aim of this competition is to stimulate interdisciplinary problem solving and analysis on a relevant international development problem, this year’s theme being “The Challenges of Employment”.

Proposals that are both theoretically grounded and offer pragmatic solutions are sought from interdisciplinary collaborations of 3 to 5 enrolled masters students from anywhere in the world.

Top tip: Viable international collaborations take time to prepare so start planning now to meet the May deadline!

Teams of students are invited to:

  • identify a challenge stemming from employment;
  • construct an interdisciplinary analysis on how it affects different aspects of development in a specific (but transposable) context;
  • propose innovation at the policy, practice, process or technology levels turning the challenge into development opportunity.

Finalists are invited to present their work in Geneva before a panel of high-level experts. The winning project is awarded 10,000 CHF, the second prize 5,000 CHF and the third, 2,500 CHF. Networking and publication opportunities are also envisioned as part of the prize package.

In 2016, the competition received more than 114 inspired submissions on the Challenges of Urbanisation. The first prize of 10,000 Swiss Francs was awarded to a team of students from Universidad Nacional de Colombia and London School of Economics and Political Science. They proposed a solution for urban waste management, using Bogota as a case study.
Registrations close on 25 May 2017.  More information on graduateinstitute.ch/TheGenevaChallenge

Careers in Publishing talk

Blogged by Julia Hilton on January 18, 2017.

Taking place on Tuesday 31st January from 2-4pm at the Careers Service

Find out more about different areas of publishing, what employers are looking for and the various routes in. This panel session will give you the opportunity to ask questions from a range of publishing experts working across different publishing houses including OUP, CrossRef and members of The Publishers Association.

Free Journalism workshop!

Blogged by Julia Hilton on January 18, 2017.

Expect to be actively engaged throughout this fun and fast-paced workshop aimed both at aspiring journalists and anyone interested in trying out journalism for the first time. Taking place on Thursday 2nd February from 2-4pm at IT Services, 13 Banbury Road.

Budding reporters will have the chance to experience what it’s like to work on a breaking news story in this immersive workshop run by national press agency News Associates. See how you cope under pressure and find out if you have what it takes to meet the challenge of creating and refreshing your story as new information comes into News Associates’ simulated newsroom. Every attendee will get individual feedback and there will also be time set aside for career advice and information about routes into journalism careers.
There will be 24 PCs available and some additional seating. You must book via CareerConnect to ensure a place at the event, please note however, the PCs will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis on the day therefore, if you have a laptop available, please would you bring it with you.

 

Everything You Need to Know to Secure and Succeed in Pupillage Interviews

Posted on behalf of Annie Dutton. Blogged by Annie Dutton on January 18, 2017.

When: Tuesday, 24th January 2017

Time: 14.30 – 16.00

Where: Careers Service

Interested in becoming a Barrister or have decided that you want to pursue this career path? If yes, then this session will be of value to you and will help you in making effective applications. This is a super event led by the University of Law and will help you especially as The Pupillage Gateway for making applications for pupillage closes on February 7th, 2017 and first round interviews to take place February to April 2017.

Obtaining pupillage is harder than ever. Every year, another cohort of highly qualified applicants enrols on the BPTC and applies for an ever-shrinking number of pupillages. On top of that, the pupillage application process remains shrouded in mystery with horror stories of bizarre sifting systems and terrifying interview tactics whispered around the country.

This workshop aims to lift the lid on this process by showing you real application forms and real candidates being interviewed by the barristers that make those pupillage decisions. You will see what works, what doesn’t, and how best to approach your own applications and succeed.

 

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