You need to write a speculative cover letter when you are applying speculatively to an employer that you want to approach, but don't know whether they have any vacancies for which you would be suitable.
In this article, you'll learn about every aspect of how to write a speculative cover letter that completely grabs an employer's attention, making them really want to interview you.
On our site, you'll also find a speculative cover letter example that you can use as a template, or if you need help putting together a speculative cover letter (or any other type of covering letter), then our professional cover letter writing service can help you win more job interviews.
Why Should You Make Speculative Job Applications?
Making speculative job applications is a great way to find a job, because if you find a suitable employer with a job opening before they've advertised it, you may be only one of a handful of candidates who've applied, or you may be the only applicant.
This means that you'll stand more chance of landing an interview and a job offer than an advertised vacancy that has attracted 100s of applicants.
Make sure you have a great CV, as this will make an employer take notice of your application, a professional CV writing company can make a real difference to the number of interviews you receive.
Is Writing a Speculative Cover Letter Difficult?
There are certainly more challenges when it comes to writing a speculative cover letter compared to a cover letter for an advertised job vacancy, but it just takes a little more research (more about this in a minute).
When you are applying for an advertised job vacancy, you know that the person you are writing to is looking to fill a job and will definitely consider your application.
But, if you're making a speculative application, you have no idea whether there is a job opening or not, which means your speculative covering letter will have to work far harder.
Most speculative cover letters are far to generic, which can make employers think that you are sending out 100s of CVs and cover letters - this will not make them want to meet you, in fact they'll just reject your application and they probably won't even bother to reply to your letter or email.
When you are writing a CV and a speculative cover letter you must tailor them specifically for the employer that you are sending them to, which means that you must thoroughly research the employer you want to work for.
Thorough Research Makes Your Speculative Cover Letters Stand Out
Your speculative cover letter will stand a better chance of winning you an interview if you've carefully research the employers that you want to work for.
Start by looking at each employer's own website:
- Visit their job vacancies / careers pages to see if they have any suitable jobs for you. You should try to gain a valuable insight into what skills and experience they need, as this helps you to write an excellent speculative cover letter. Don't worry if you don't see any suitable vacancies, you can still make a speculative job application. Their 'About Us' page can give you a good insight into the employer's philosophy. Read any mission statements or other useful information. Try to get a good feel for the employer's brand values and the type of attributes and characteristics they are likely to look for in an employee.
Do they have a social media presence?
- If they have an employer LinkedIn profile, Facebook page/s or blogs, take a look at them and learn what you can. You may get a chance to interact with their employees on these social media, which will give you a better idea about what they are looking for. Some employer websites are too corporate and interacting with their employees may give you a better impression of what it's like to work their. Interacting with employees on social media, may possibly yield a named individual you can contact or even a possible job opening.
What other research can you conduct?
- Read your local and regional newspapers or search their websites for mentions of the employers you are interested in working for, noting down any relevant information. Professional / trade journals and magazines, plus the magazines of professional bodies / institutes can all include pertinent information about employers. Search engines are also a great source of information, although if it's a large employer, you may find that you have to limit yourself to just looking at a few pages.
Through your research from employer websites, social media and your other research, you need to identify:
- Whether your chosen employers currently have any specific job opening that you would be suitable for you, either now or in the immediate future. Are they expanding in your area? If so, there will be new job opportunities and you can send your speculative cover letter and CV to them before they even advertise the job (which they won't advertise, if they fill it with a speculative applicant like you). What skills and experience the employers need and how your own skills and experience match their requirements? Are there any specific problems or challenges that the employers are currently facing and do you have any experience in fixing them? If you do, then you've
identified a possible job opening.
Once you've done your research about your next potential employers, it will become far easier to write your speculative covering letters.
How to Write a Speculative Cover Letter For A Specific Job Opening
If you've managed to uncover an actual job opening through your research (or a potential job opportunity), then you can make this the complete focus of your speculative cover letter.
You can start your letter by saying that you'd like to apply for the job that you have uncovered. You should outline how your skills, experience and achievements match the job's requirements based on your research.
If there are any specific challenges or problems that the employer is facing that you identified during your research, then mention them and show how you've overcome similar problems / challenges - be specific, naming companies and specifically what your contribution was, including facts and figures.
This will really make your application stand head and shoulders above any other applications they receive and should practically guarantee you an interview - who wouldn't want to pick your brain for ideas!
To find out how to address a letter, see our how to start a cover letter article. If you need to improve your CV and speculative covering letter, then you should consult with CV writing services who can ensure that your application is taken seriously by the employers you are keen to work for.
Writing a Speculative Cover Letter When You Don't Know If There Are Any Suitable Jobs
If after your research you still don't know whether they have any suitable jobs for you, then you can still send them a speculative cover letter, but how you approach writing the letter will be different to the approach you'd take if you knew they had a job opening.
You'll have to start your letter by saying that your writing to them to see if they have any jobs for which you would be suitable.
You should summarise how your experience, skills and experience could help the employer. It's more of a guess in this case, compared to applying for a specific job opening, but your research on the employer should give you some clues about the sort of employee they are looking for.
You must show you match the employer's brand characteristics and values, which are often as important to an employer as the specific skills and experience you have.
If during your research you identified particular problems or challenges the employer had, then remember to mention them in your speculative covering letter. You need to outline how you overcome these sort of challenges or problems, with names of employers and stating exactly what you did, including outcomes with numbers (if possible).
At the end of the cover letter, some people ask the employer to keep their application on file in case of future openings. You can put this in your letter if you want, but there's no guarantee that an employer will do this!
Researching the employer and then producing a tailored speculative letter, will impress an employer, which will tremendously increase your chances of getting an interview if the employer has any job openings.
Should You Send a Speculative Cover Letter by Post or Email?
This depends on how much research you've done about the employer and what you've managed to uncover. If you've managed to identify a named individual and their email address, you could either email them or send them a letter through the post. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.
A physical letter sent to a named individual will be opened and read, whilst there is no guarantee that your email will even be opened.
It's much easier to reply to an email than a physical letter, as you can just click on reply. So, if you decide to send a physical letter make sure you include your email address at the top under your home address on your cover letter.
If you haven't been able to identify a named person, then your approach will depend on whether you have uncovered a specific email address that will go to somebody that deals with jobs vacancies either in the HR Department or preferably a senior departmental manager that actually makes the hiring decisions.
Don't send your CV and speculative cover letter to a customer service email address and expect it to be forwarded to the relevant person.
Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and ring the employer to find out the name of the person you should send your CV and letter to.
How Long Should a Speculative Covering Letter be?
If you're sending your speculative covering letter by post, then you should write no more than a one-page letter - this is quite long enough and a longer letter can be off-putting and is unlikely to improve your chances. Remember you're putting in your CV too, so they'll have 3 pages to read, assuming you've managed to compress your CV to two pages.
If you've decided to email them, then you'll need to produce a shorter letter, than if you were posting it. Long emails will simply not be read and if they're trying to read your email on their smartphone they may struggle and simply give up - meaning they won't even bother to look at your CV.
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