How to Write a Speculative Cover Letter
A speculative cover letter is sent to apply for or enquire about a job that is not currently being advertised.
You should consider making a speculative job application if you are:
- Actively looking for a new job role
- Trying to find a work experience placement
- Thinking about making a career move
Sending a speculative job application can be an effective way to show you are keen, motivated and committed to your career goals.
Remember, even if the company you send your speculative cover letter to doesn’t have any current job vacancies, opening a dialogue with them could help to ensure you are at the top of the list when a suitable vacancy comes up in the future.
Much like a standard cover letter, a speculative cover letter accompanies your CV when you are applying for a job. However, a speculative cover letter is different from a standard cover letter in a few ways.
Standard cover letters are usually sent when applying for an advertised vacancy and should be tailored to that vacancy. In contrast, a speculative cover letter is sent to apply for a job that has not been advertised.
Standard cover letters need to be highly focused on niche or specialist skills that are outlined in a job description or person specification.
In contrast, a speculative cover letter should:
- Give details of your relevant transferable skills
- Outline your past work experience
- Demonstrate why you would be a good fit for the company
As with any cover letter, a well written speculative cover letter will provide you with the opportunity to engage with the recipient and start building up a positive rapport.
Where possible, try to send your speculative job application to a particular person, rather than a generic department.
If you are not sure of the name of the person you should send your speculative cover letter to, have a look at the employer’s website. Try to find out the name of the manager for the department you are interested in working for.
Alternatively, you could call the HR department to find out the name of the department manager.
Sending your speculative cover letter to a specific person will help to ensure your letter is read by the most appropriate employee or department. It will also show that you have carried out some background research into the company and its current employees.
You can choose to send a speculative cover letter by email or by letter. The advantage of a letter is that it will land on somebody’s desk, making it harder to ignore.
Your speculative cover letter will need to be both engaging and informative.
As you are not writing to apply for one particular job role, you will need to provide an overview of the skills and experience that you have gained so far. A speculative job application aims to show the employer that you are a good all-rounder, not just a specialist in one single area.
Whilst a speculative cover letter is not tailored to a particular job role, it will need to be written specifically for an employer. So, if you are planning to send out more than one speculative job application, you will need to adjust each letter accordingly.
A speculative cover letter will need to include the following information:
A brief outline of the type of job role you would be interested in applying for
Information on your existing skills and experience and how these could be of benefit to the business
An outline of the reasons why you would like to work for the business
A closing summary to reiterate what you would be able to offer to the business
An assertive, confident call to action to end the letter; for example, ‘I look forward to hearing from you soon’, instead of, ‘I hope to hear from you soon’
When writing your speculative cover letter, try not to repeat the information contained within your CV.
Don’t forget to include your name, address and contact details (including your mobile telephone number and email address).
If you are unable to find out the specific manager’s name, start your letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and close it with ‘Yours faithfully’.
If you have managed to find a named person to send the letter to, you can start your letter with ‘Dear [Name]’ and close the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’.
Here is an outline of what your speculative cover letter should look like. This speculative cover letter template is for a person who wants to make an application to a legal firm.
1 The Street
Mrs D Judge
Dear Mrs Judge
I would like to enquire whether you have any current administrative vacancies within your firm. Please find enclosed my CV, which outlines the experience I have gained during my career to date.
Having worked as a legal secretary for the past five years, I have demonstrated my commitment to providing high-quality legal administration services. I have a sound working knowledge of industry terminology and legal working practices. I am proud that my dedication and commitment to my work has been recognised through a recent nomination for the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs ‘Legal PA of the Year Award’.
My experience to date has been gained through working for two small legal practices. While this has been both challenging and enjoyable, I would like to develop my skills and experience further in a fast-paced, busy role. I understand your company is one of the largest legal practices in London with continuing plans for growth, making it the ideal place to pursue my future career objectives.
As an administrative worker for your firm, I would strive to support your partners with high-quality secretarial support. I am a competent typist with a keen eye for detail and a proven ability to cope under pressure at all times.
I would be delighted to have the opportunity to discuss my application with you in further detail.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
After you post your speculative cover letter, you will need to be patient. You probably won’t hear anything straight away but, hopefully, the recipient of your letter will be in touch to discuss job vacancies you may be suitable for.
If you still haven’t heard anything back within two weeks, it is advisable to follow up with the employer directly, to check that they have received your letter.
If they say that they haven’t received it, ask them whether they would be happy for you to re-send it over to them. At this point, you could find out whether they would be happy for you to send it by email, as they will know to look out for it in their inbox.
Even if the manager says that there are no suitable vacancies available at the moment, you could still ask them to provide you with constructive feedback on your speculative job application. This will help you to improve any speculative applications you make in the future.
Find out as much as you possibly can about the business you are planning to write to. For example:
- What is their mission statement?
- What are their values?
- What product or service do they provide?
- Who are their customers?
- Who are their main competitors?
- How many people do they employ?
- What are the must-have skills for employees?
The company website is a good place to start. You could also browse through relevant social media pages, press releases and industry-specific content like blogs or newsletters.
Use the information that you find to help you write your speculative job application. For example, if you already have a particular qualification or skill that they want all of their employees to have, make sure this is clearly stated within your application.
Or, if you find out that they are planning to expand or acquire another company, let them know if this is a process you have had experience with in the past.
It is important to keep your speculative cover letter short and to the point. Keep the content succinct and focused – doing so will help to ensure the recipient reads it and digests the information it contains.
A letter that is too long will probably end up in the waste paper bin before it has even been read.
To ensure your letter makes a good first impression, set it out formally, use an easy-to-read font (such as Calibri or Arial, size 11 or 12) and write a maximum of five short paragraphs.
When making speculative job applications, your cover letter is the one opportunity you have to make a good impression. If the text is littered with spelling and grammar errors, this is unlikely to make the manager want to call you to discuss a potential job opening.
Make sure you proofread your letter thoroughly, and ask a friend or family member to check through it too.
If you are looking for ways to progress your career, there is no need for you to wait for the perfect job vacancy to be advertised online.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by sending out a speculative job application. After all, your employer of choice could be just waiting for somebody with your skills and experience to make contact with them.
By sending a speculative job application to your preferred employers, you will show them that you are confident, enthusiastic and willing to go the extra mile to achieve your career objectives.
Don’t forget, a speculative cover letter aims to show the employer why you would be a great addition to their existing team. Ensure your application gives an overview of your existing qualifications, skills and experience, and how this could help the business to achieve its goals.