Speculative Applications

Between 50% and 75% of jobs are never advertised, speculative applications should form a large part of your job search. 

Review your target area, business type. size, geography etc. and consider exactly which company you are targeting and why.

You can approach companies directly at any time, but you are more likely to get a positive response if you can present yourself as a solution to a new challenge or problem faced by that company or organisation.

Research shows that a 'round-robin' letter of the "I am writing to introduce myself and to discuss any opportunities you may be able to offer." type stands a chance of about 1 in 1200 of getting a positive response.

However, a well-researched, carefully targeted letter can increase your chances of a response to about 1 in 30.

A successful speculative campaign is, to a large extent a numbers game. If your response rate is 1 in 30 and  you consider that a very successful direct mail campaign will generate a 2%-3% you will see that you really do need to be very target aggressive with high numbers to get results. The secret is to cut the numbers by employing extremely well researched, targeted and specific applications. 

There is no reason why anyone has to reply to an unsolicited approach. Companies and organisations often behave just like people. Think when you last responded to an unsolicited letter and invited a stranger to call at your house. You may never have done so but if you did you will have had a very good reason. The unknown writer was almost certainly offering something you were interested in hearing about/looking at. This is exactly what a direct approach must do.

Your letter must motivate the reader to want to see you, not to give you a job. What you want is the chance to earn a job offer later. Opportunities to write motivating letters often arise in the course of networking. You will meet people, who mention particular organisations that might need your talents, but who cannot introduce you to a further useful networking contact in that organisation. It may be an organisation that is actually expanding in an area where your strengths might be useful or it may be one, which just seems to be the right kind of organisation for you.

At this point you might write to a senior employee in an appropriate position. You must offer specific skills and a defined potential benefit or role. The purpose of your letter, however, is to get a meeting not a job. If your offer is unclear your letter will, quite correctly, end up in the waste bin.

A specific role need not necessarily exist. If you have done your homework you may be able to create a completely new job, which the organisation had not realised it needed.

Ideally one-offs, they can be modified from a basic standard letter in many cases. While you must know what you have to offer organisations to which you write you may not know what job titles are appropriate or where in a complex organisation you might best be employed. However, top managers and CEOs are always on the look-out for good people to employ (either now or in the future) and will take time to see interesting looking people, who convey clearly what they can do.