Making Speculative Approaches | The Careers Service 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

Interested in a Career in Banking & Finance?

Blogged by Damilola Odimayo on May 24, 2017.

The undergraduate Finance Lab programme run by the Said Business School is a great opportunity to gain practical training, networking and recruitment opportunities in this sector. You don’t need a finance or economics background to get involved, just an interest in improving your financial, valuation and investment skills – the programme is open to all students in their second year of study onwards.

Interested? If so, why don’t you go along to the taster presentation on Tuesday 30th May from 18:00 – 19:30 at the Said Business School (Park End Street OX1 1HP)

Register online to attend.

Applications for the Finance Lab open on 30 May 2017, and admissions are on a rolling basis.

For more information on the Finance Lab, and details on how to apply, please visit the Finance Labs website.

For any questions please contact: OSFL@SBS.OX.AC.UK

Unlocked – Brand Manager roles for students

Blogged by Claire Chesworth on May 23, 2017.

Unlocked is a unique two-year leadership development programme aimed at training graduates to inject new ideas, insights and energy into the rehabilitation of UK prisons as prison officers. They are looking for enthusiastic students to work as Brand Managers and promote their graduate programme at Oxford University; you will need to be a full-time student from September 2017- March 2018.

Full details are on Unlocked’s website. Apply now!

Please check with your college regarding their policy on working during term-time.

 

Make a THIRD Micro-Internship Application!

Posted on behalf of The Internship Office. Blogged by Rachel Sene on May 23, 2017.

Already made two applications for a Micro-Internship? Still keen to gain experience in Week 9?

We have increased the number of applications permitted for students for Trinity Term Micro-Internships! You can now make a third application to one of our remaining Micro-Internships, even if you have already reached your application limit on CareerConnect. With placements still on offer including: award-winning education start-up: Whizz Education, Mental and Physical Health Consultancy: MAP, and a Civil Service Policy Game placement with OUCS, there’s still time to secure a one-of-a-kind placement for Week 9!

See instructions for making a third application below:

  1. Login to CareerConnect to view all remaining Micro-Internship opportunities.
  2. Write your 300 word personal statement and one page CV, and save in pdf format with the title of the vacancy you are applying to.
  3. Email both pdf documents to micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk before the deadline (specified on the micro-internship opportunity) with the subject heading: Micro-Internship Application “Vacancy Title”

A member of the Micro-Internship office will be in touch after the deadline to let you know the result of your application. Email: micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk for more information.

Please note: if you haven’t made two micro-internship applications yet and would like to apply, please submit you micro-internship application via CareerConnect as normal.

Insight Into Teaching – places still available

Blogged by Emily Game on May 23, 2017.

Insight into Teaching offers the opportunity to spend three days in a UK school with a full programme of lesson observation, involvement with school activities, and possibly the chance to try out some teaching! The programme lasts three days and takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of 9th week this term.

Placements are currently available in secondary schools and further education colleges in both the state-maintained and independent school sectors. Most placements are in Oxford, or nearby towns that are easily accessible from Oxford. We also offer some placements in other parts of the UK.

The programme takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of 9th week this term, 20 – 22 June 2017.

Placements still available:

  • Cambridge – Chemistry
  • London; Harrow, Feltham and Hillingdon – Range of Subjects
  • Oxfordshire Independent – Biology, Economics, Geography, English

How to apply

Available places are offered on a first-come, first-served basis up to the closing date of Wednesday of 6th week, 31 May 2017, so apply early to avoid disappointment. Apply via CareerConnect (select Internship Office & Skills Programmes, and search for Insight into Teaching TT17).

The programme is open to all students at Oxford University.

Find out more – including how to apply – on the Insight Into Teaching webpage.

Science in the European Commission – upcoming event

Blogged by Abby Evans on May 22, 2017.

What can a scientist do in the European Commission? (even after Brexit)

  • When: 28 June 2017, 13.00-14.00
    Where: Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Lecture Theatre, South Parks Road, OX1 3QZ

Olga is a 4th year DPhil student in Chemistry. Last October she set out on an adventure – a five-month traineeship at the European Commission – with no previous experience of working in policy.

The traineeship turned out to be immensely enriching, and Olga is keen to share her experience as a scientist in Brussels and at one of the Commission’s Joint Research Centres in Italy with other science DPhil students and postdocs who might be interested in applying for the programme, as well as with anyone who is curious about how science is used in public policy.

The paid traineeships are a continuous scheme and do not require EU citizenship.

All are welcome to this informal session to find about more about opportunities for scientists in the European Commission. No registration needed, just come along.

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