It’s really only larger employers who run formal graduate recruitment schemes featuring assessment centres and specialist training programmes. But the majority of people in the UK don’t work for large multinationals. Most of us work for smaller companies, who just don’t have the resources or budget for expensive recruitment strategy. If you’d prefer to work with a smaller company, or one in a specific niche of the market, making a speculative application may be your only option.
Draw Up a List
Speculative applications work best when you are interested in a very specific field, where there are only a small number of employers. A quick internet search will provide you with all of the information you need about what the company does and how to get in touch with them. Draw up your list of potential employers, noting down key information like web address or email. Friends and family might be another good source of ideas about what sort of companies might provide employment opportunities locally. Don’t send a barrage of letters all at the same time. It’s usually best to send them out in batches so that you don’t become overwhelmed with keeping track of all your correspondences.
Do Your Homework
The golden rule of speculative applications is never to send a letter headed, “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. Use the company’s website to either identify the head of the department where you see yourself working, or the HR director. If you can’t find the details online, call the office’s switchboard and ask. Make sure you have the correct spelling of the contact’s name. When writing your application, try to keep it brief. Say how interested you are in the company and its products, and ask whether you can arrange a meeting to discuss what vacancies they may have in the future. If you’ve researched the company properly, you should use some of the words and phrases found on their literature; this will help them view you as an ideal fit for their organisation.
Consider Temporary or Part Time
If you have a shortlist of companies which you are very interested in, don’t go straight to asking about what opportunities they have for recent graduates. Contact them instead expressing interest in the company, and try to get across that you are very keen to work for them in any capacity. If you are prepared to consider part-time work or a temporary contract, this could get your foot in the door and lead to something more permanent in the future. If your aim is to work with a charity or not-for-profit organisation, consider volunteering in your spare time first.
Follow Up After the Letter
After you’ve sent the application, give it a few days before contacting the person you sent the application to. If nobody is free to talk, don’t push the contact too far. Thank them for taking the time to read your application, and ask them to bear you in mind if something comes up in the future. They may also have contacts in other similar organisations who could help.
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Where to next? Find out about all our internal graduate jobs.