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 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 06 September 2017.
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Recent blogs about Making Speculative Approaches

How will real estate be used differently in 10 years’ time?

Posted on behalf of Oxford Real Estate Society. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on November 16, 2017.

The Oxford Real Estate Society invites entries for its 2018 essay competition. The topic is “How will real estate be used differently in 10 years’ time?”. Entrants are invited to submit an initial proposal of c.100 words by 31 Jan 2018. These will be reviewed and a group of entrants will be selected to expand their synopsis into an essay of 800-1000 words, due for submission by 28 Feb 2018. The winning entry will receive £1,000 and the opportunity to present the key ideas of their essay at the 2018 OxRES Conference. Students of all disciplines and backgrounds are encouraged to apply and no previous real estate experience is required. For further information please email competition@oxres.org.

Train to Teach, Oxford

Posted on behalf of Get Into Teaching. Blogged by John Gilbert on November 16, 2017.
  • When: Thursday 23 November 2017, 16:30 – 20:00
  • Where: Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford 
  • Book: via the Get Into Teaching website.

The UK Government’s free Train to Teach Roadshows will provide you with a wealth of information on how to get into teaching and how to apply for training in your region.

Don’t miss your opportunity to find out more. Drop in at any time during the event, allowing at least two hours to:

  • first attend a presentation on the different teacher training options – these will take place at 17:30 and 18:30
  • speak to teaching experts to receive advice on your training options – please check your eligibility for teacher training before coming along to this event
  • receive personalised advice on your UCAS application – don’t forget to bring a copy of your personal statement with you
  • talk to practising teachers about life in the classroom
  • meet representatives from schools and universities that deliver teacher training in your region to find out about their courses and entry requirements

To find out more, see the Get Into Teaching website.

International internships with Ashinaga

Posted on behalf of Ashinaga. Blogged by Julia Hilton on November 16, 2017.
  • When: 23 November 2017, 17:00 – 18:00
  • Where: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road

Ashinaga is the third largest charitable organisation in Japan. In the past 45 years Ashinaga has raised over $1bn to enable more than 100,000 orphaned students to complete higher education in Japan. Ashinaga offers over 100 internships a year in our Japan, Uganda, and Senegal offices throughout the year. These internships are largely focused on the Ashinaga Africa Initiative. This is an academic leadership program that aims to provide an opportunity for higher education at the world’s leading institutions of higher education to orphaned students from 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The goal of the program is to nurture future leaders who will contribute to democratic realization, economic development, and poverty eradication in their home countries post-graduation. One outstanding student from each Sub-Saharan African country will be selected to join the program every year. Ashinaga will provide these students with the training, opportunities, and finances necessary to study at academic institutions around the world.

Students from all disciplines are welcome to attend this short presentation, after which there will be time for questions with the President of Ashinaga, the former head of our Ugandan office, and ex-interns who now work in our Tokyo office. Students with an interest in Africa, Japan, development, education, leadership, and the third sector are particularly welcome.

Find out more on Ashinaga’s website.

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