Speculative applications

Applying "speculatively" means sending a CV and/or covering letter to an employer asking whether they can offer jobs or work experience. So long as you do you research and tailor your communications, this can be a very worthwhile approach. It may seem surprising, but many jobs aren’t actually openly advertised, and some employers even rely on people making speculative applications, especially in sectors like the media and creative industries.

Research is key to effective speculative applications, as you will need to identify potential employers and tailor your applications to them. The importance of tailoring for speculative applications cannot be overstated - always explain why you have chosen to apply to a prospective employer, and what it is about them and their work that interests you.

How we can help

  • If you need any assistance researching employers, or figuring out what you should be looking for come to an information appointment.
  • We also run relevant events, including on researching employers and commercial awareness, so keep an eye on our central events programme.
  • Use our resources to help you write a targeted CV and cover letter to a named person stating why you are interested in working for them (these should follow the same format as for advertised positions, but it’s even more important that they are tailored specifically to each organisation you apply to!)
  • Check out our video resources for information direct from employers about how to write a great CV, what to put in a cover letter and how to make your applications stand out.
  • After looking at these resources you may want your CV or application to be checked over before sending it - see mycareer for details.

Finding potential employers

You can find potential employers by:

  • Using the search employers function on Careers Service vacancies listings
  • Using the Careers Service Careers Network
  • Searching the University of Bristol Alumni LinkedIn group
  • Asking friends and family about the organisations they work for
  • Researching professional bodies that produce lists of individual and corporate members
  • Taking notice of organisations that get mentioned in the media

Speaking to potential employers

You should speak to potential employers to find out more about them. Picking up the phone can be daunting, but once you have identified an organisation you would like to work for it’s often worth calling them to find out who the best person is to send a CV to. If they tell you they won't accept a speculative application, ask them for some advice on getting started in that industry or if they could recommend any similar organisations you could approach.

Applying to potential employers

Before applying speculatively check whether an employer has any preferences as to how they like to receive speculative applications, and make sure you conform to these. You should also always address your speculative applications to a named contact if possible - if you can’t find this online it’s worth calling an employer up to find out who to contact. Once this person is identified it’s simply a case of sending them your application!

ALWAYS follow up your application. Do this by emailing or calling the person you sent your CV to, asking them whether they have had a chance to look at your application

Write a targeted CV and cover letter to a "named" person stating why you are interested in working for them. CVs and cover letters follow the same format as for advertised positions and should be targeted to that one organisation.

Read these examples for some inspiration about what to write:

Can we help?

Application reviews - book online

CV/application reviews take place throughout the week. Log in to mycareer to find out when they're happening and to book.

You can book from 8am on the day and please bring a paper copy with you.