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How to Write a Speculative Cover Letter

How to Write a Speculative Cover Letter

Write a cover letter for all speculative job applications

Learning how to write a speculative cover letter successfully can really pay off if you are looking to switch jobs or gain a step up in your career path. It shows you are pro-active, keen and can even get you considered for roles that are not advertised yet.  Getting the tone of a cover letter right, especially a speculative one, takes a lot of consideration. This article help you to:

  • Address the letter to the right person
  • Format it correctly
  • Say why you are a good candidate for the company, the position or the department.

Applying for a job without a formal invitation to do so does not mean that you are being presumptuous, so go for it!

Who to address a prospective cover letter to

When you are writing a cover letter for speculative application, it is advisable to address it to an individual if possible. Avoid sending a speculative cover letter to the HR department of a company or the sales director since these are likely to get nowhere.

Find out who the hiring decision maker might be in your field and address that individual directly. This may mean phoning to find out or looking up the relevant personnel details from the corporate website.

Bear in mind that addressing a prospective cover letter to the right person has twin benefits. Firstly, it will help you to get noticed by the right person. Secondly, it will show that you have done your research and this will demonstrate your professionalism in its own right.

How to format a speculative application

By setting out your cover letter formally, you stand a better chance of your speculative application succeeding. This means adding your name, address and the date on the top right and the addressee's details below this, on the left. Begin with 'Dear...' and end with 'Yours faithfully,' which is the correct format if you don't happen to already know the person you are writing to.

In the body of the letter, add three or four paragraphs. Begin by explaining that you are looking for work and try to be as specific about the sort of work you want, ideally highlighting why this means you have identified the company you are writing to as a potential employer.

Make a quick summary of your skills and what benefits you could bring to the organisation or company you are writing to. Separate each paragraph with a line break to make them more accessible and easy to read. Choose a professional looking font and avoid emoticons and slang.

What to say about yourself

When you are being speculative, it is best to keep your options open, so don't focus on one particular skill or qualification. Showing that you are an all-rounder can be much more effective than being a specialist.

Key information, such as stating that you are a second-jobber looking for career progress, can be helpful. These details are a chance to say that you are ambitious – something that most prospective employers want to hear. Make sure that you include a preferred means of contact, ideally your phone number or email address.

Don't sit back and think the job is done once your cover letter has been created and sent off. Follow up any that you send with a phone call after about one week. Even if your letter hasn't been read yet, this can help to personalise your contact and increases the chances of a positive outcome.