Speculative approach to job searching

Not all vacancies are advertised which means that you may need to make direct enquiries with employers. Smaller companies do not always offer graduate roles, placement year opportunities, internships, or work experience, so you approaching the company might be one of the few ways in. It can also be very challenging to break into industries such as media, charity work, design and environmental work, so taking a speculative approach could lead to greater success in securing a role.

Approximately 70% of opportunities are secured through a speculative approach and through your network, so adopting a speculative job search approach is a legitimate way to secure an opportunity!

What is a speculative approach?

You approach an employer to enquire whether they would consider offering you an opportunity. The employer is not advertising a position, but you want to work for them.

First be clear about what you are looking for – it could be to seek:

  • Information and advice about the sector or role
  • Some work shadowing or unpaid work experience
  • Paid work either short or long term

Do your research

  • Understand the sector you want to work in and keep up to date with current trends.
  • Research relevant employers, as you will be approaching these directly.
  • Consider the types of roles that already exist in the company, how these fit with your ambitions, skills set, experience, etc.

Make initial contact

You will need

Prepare for contact!

  • Build your personal brand – values, expertise, character and your impact (on business, society, the environment, etc.).
  • Prepare and practice your elevator pitch (a brief synopsis of your background, experience, what you can offer and what you want).
  • You may be asked to attend an ‘informal’ meeting at very short notice, so do your research on the organisation, the person / people you are meeting and the role (if one has been discussed).
  • What are you willing to accept if your ideal position is not available? Volunteering or a temporary role at a lower level in your chosen sector?
  • Read more in communicating with contacts.