It’s that time of year when many students and soon to be graduates are job hunting for summer or full time work. I’ve spoken with a few students who are considering sending a ‘speculative application’ to some prospective employers. It’s certainly worth considering for the simple benefit of potentially finding a job that hasn’t been advertised. Yes you could be rejected or never hear back but if you’re job hunting why not try it! Wouldn’t it be great to not be amongst the 50 or so applicants applying for an advertised job? To give yourself the best possible shot consider the following:

Know what you have to offer an organisation (your skills, knowledge and interests) – why should they be interested in you? A self-assessment or self-reflection to find out what you have to offer an employer is incredibly valuable. Have a read of this article for some help.

Research the organisation thoroughly to create a tailored application – I can’t stress this one enough. You need to find out as much as you can about this organisation to create a strong and viable application. Start with their website and their social media. From Liz’s blog consider that professional associations and specific industries also have their own journals and magazines, for example in tourism, human resources, management, marketing and accountancy. Get a sense of what challenges organisations are facing and what are some of the ways in which they are dealing with these challenges. Read newspapers – especially the business pages, as well as magazines like the National Business Review, Unlimited, and NZ Business. Magazines such as the Listener, North & South and Metro also carry business stories.

Show enthusiasm – so many people forget to say in their cover letter what appeals to them about the organisation and why. Don’t send a speculative application unless you actually want to work for the organisation and have an interest in what they do.

Find out who to approach or send the application to – creating a LinkedIn account is a great idea for researching who to contact (especially if you aren’t great/keen on cold calling). For getting started with LinkedIn there is good advice here , here and here. You can also use LinkedIn to get to know people AKA networking. I know some people hate the idea of networking but it’s so valuable. Advice on networking is here and here.

Here are some quotes from employers from this blog in response to a poster’s question on speculative applications:

My advice would be to get to know your target company, finding out as much as you possibly can about their operation and challenges. Follow and engage with them on social media, research the relevant heads of department on LinkedIn, and even set up a Google Alert so you are kept informed of any new developments. The more you know about the company, the better you can target your application. Make your CV and cover letter personal to the particular company and their needs, showing you understand the operation and are truly inspired to work with them”

“There are a number of companies out there, particularly small to medium enterprises (SMEs) who will not advertise positions – often because they i) may lack the finances available, ii) have minimal time to review hundreds of applications, and iii) are unsure where a graduate would fit in to the company. I have spoken with a number of people who have approached companies they are interested in and have had great success (Both large and small businesses). The key to success is to research the company in-depth and demonstrate that you really want to work for them. Often an email is enough and then you can follow it up via a phone call”

“Start by researching organisations and make sure you have a well-targeted CV and cover letter which really demonstrates what value you can bring to a company. I’d always suggest trying to find the most appropriate person to contact (whether you need to call HR or have a look on LinkedIn), and once you’ve made that initial contact make sure you follow up with a phone call afterwards”

“I would suggest trying to get your CV in front of the decision maker rather than the recruitment / HR team if possible. Attending networking events and using LinkedIn effectively can be a good starting point to find out the names of the who’s who”

These are good articles to read as well:

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Career advice, Job application, Looking for work


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