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. 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.
Loading... Please wait
Recent blogs about Making Speculative Approaches

The Oxford Spinouts Careers Fair

Blogged by John Gilbert on February 21, 2017.
  • When: Thursday 2 March, 16.00-19.00
  • Where: Saïd Business School

Meet local startup companies at this brand new event. Organised by Oxford Entrepreneurs and supported by The Careers Service, this careers fair  is designed to offer students, graduates and researchers the chance to meet and explore potential employment opportunities with Oxford spinout companies.

Companies attending:

  • Animal Dynamics
  • Chronos Therapeutics
  • CN Bio Innovations
  • Fuel 3D
  • Mind Foundry
  • Onfido
  • Openwell
  • Organox
  • OxBotica
  • OxeHealth
  • Oxford Flow
  • Oxford Mestar
  • Oxford Nano Imaging
  • Oxford Science Innovation
  • Oxford Science Innovation
  • Oxford University Innovation
  • TdeltaS
  • The Entrepreneurship Centre
  • Vaccitech
  • Zegami

Apply to be an English Assistant abroad in 2017-18!

Posted on behalf of Annie Dutton. Blogged by Annie Dutton on February 21, 2017.

Want to move abroad after you graduate? Looking for a rewarding and well-paid placement for your Year Abroad?

The Language Assistants programme provides a unique opportunity for UK students and graduates looking to diversify their CVs, gain transferable skills, and become immersed in another culture.

All placements are paid and teaching time is limited to between 12 and 20 hours a week, giving you plenty of time to explore your new host country. The lesser known fact is that graduate students are also welcome to apply – and you don’t have to have studied modern languages, either!

Experience another culture

There is no better way to explore and experience the culture of another country than by living in it for a year. And, getting paid puts you in a great position to be able to travel, learn and pursue new interests too. In previous years, British Council Language Assistants have used their time abroad to take part in a myriad of exciting opportunities, from starting a small business to appearing on TV!

Develop transferable skills

In an increasingly competitive jobs market, it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd. Employers are always looking for transferrable skills, such as:

  • cultural awareness
  • communication and presentation
  • creative thinking and problem solving
  • time management and organisation.

Also, if you are interested in becoming a teacher, being a Language Assistant will help you enhance vital skills like confidence, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Learn a new language

While language skills are beneficial, you do not have to be a fluent speaker to apply to become a Language Assistant (though you could be by the time you get back!). There is no better way to learn than by being surrounded by native speakers. As a Language Assistant, your skills will improve immeasurably as you interact with locals and navigate day-to-day life. You could discover Viennese German, Spanish on the streets of Buenos Aires, or French in rural Quebec to name but three!

All you need to have is minimum B1 level in the language of your host country (so, roughly AS equivalent) and to be an English native speaker – further eligibility details can be found on the website.

Applications are open until 28 February. Find out more and apply on the British Council website.

Got questions? Email helen.hardy@queens.ox.ac.uk

Ignite: career confidence for female Masters students

Blogged by Abby Evans on February 20, 2017.

The Ignite programme, for all Masters students who identify themselves as female, is an opportunity for you to explore your values, create tangible goals, practice presenting your achievements positively and build assertiveness and networking strategies. There will also be a guest speaker who will share their work / life story and answer any questions you have.

The one-day workshop is on Monday 13 March (9th week) at the Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road. Coffee and tea will be available from 9.00 and the workshop will start promptly at 9.30, finishing at 16.00. Lunch will be included.

Spaces are limited, and booking is required for this event. Book your place through CareerConnect. You will also need to upload a one or two page CV, which you will be use during the workshop.

Masterclasses and mentoring in Entrepreneurship

Posted on behalf of Oxford Entrepreneurs. Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on February 17, 2017.
  • When: Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 Feb 2017, 9.00-18.00 on both days
  • Where: Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

OXFORD INSPIRES 2017 is Oxford Entrepreneurs’ flagship conference and is taking place on the 25th and 26th of February at the Saïd Business School of Oxford University. At the event, successful founders and entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors, backgrounds and countries come together to give lectures, masterclasses and one-on-one mentoring.

This is the perfect opportunity to expand your horizons and develop your understanding of a variety of different sectors. You will be equipped with the skills and experiences necessary for setting up your own business and the edge you need to be successful in a competitive environment.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Matt Clifford – The Founder and CEO of Entrepreneurs First
  • Patrick Grant – Founder and Director of Norton & Sons, and judge on BBC 2’s Great British Sewing Bee
  • Geoff McGrath – Chief Innovation Officer at McLaren
  • Jocelyn Hillam OBE – Founder and CEO of Working Chance
  • Susan Graham – CTO of BioCarbon Engineering

Tickets are on sale now, but are in limited supply, so please buy early to avoid disappointment.

Check out the Facebook event page, and for more information on speakers, masterclasses and mentors see the Oxford Inspires website.

Win a spot on a world class roundtable

Posted on behalf of Credit Suisse Research Institute. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on February 16, 2017.

The Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) Academy Challenge is open for applications, it offers you the chance to:

  1. Attend the exclusive CSRI Spring Meeting in New York, US with the Credit Suisse Chairman, Sir John Major, Dr. Ernesto Zedillo and more political figures!
  2. Collaborate for 2 weeks with CSRI experts in Zurich, New York or London and co-author a publication.

The competition is open to all students (BA, MA, MBA and PhD) and recent grads (2014 or later).

The Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) Academy has been launched to build a network of bright minded students and recent graduates to foster their knowledge, develop fresh perspectives and showcase their skills to the CSRI.

Do you like exploring answers to the most pressing global issues? This is your opportunity to engage with some of today’s most prominent thought leaders on issues of the day and earn global recognition for it.

For more information and to apply see the CSRI Academy Challenge website.

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.