Speculative Approaches and Networking

Where are the 80%?

alumni get together to network in a bar

Only around 20% of jobs are advertised, so where are the other 80% of vacancies? The answer to gaining these is by making speculative approaches and networking.

Don’t avoid networking, thrive on it!  Some people avoid networking as they believe they could come across as ‘pushy’, annoying or self-serving.

Some common misconceptions are:

“What if they think I’m an idiot? I don’t know what to say?”
Try it and see – focus on being a great listener rather than trying to think of something clever to say.

“I’ll spend all that time composing a specific email for it to just go in the trash”
Maybe – but you would be surprised how many people read and respond to these emails.

“I don’t have time – networking takes too long”
Yes – it does, but the time invested will pay off.

The simple fact is that NETWORKING WORKS. And sometimes you need to step outside of your comfort zone to see what might just happen if you try it.

Click here to find out how to become a networking expert


Please see our fantastic factsheet on Linkedin

Starting to make speculative approaches and networking
  1. Complete the online module on Networking on The Hub. This module will help you with the basics of networking and making speculative approaches, with a particular focus on written communications.
  2. Attend our workshops on your Networking and Speculative Approaches. Both MSc and MBA students should sign up on Symplicity for the relevant “Networking” workshop. These workshops offer a practical way of building on your networking skills.

Now, think about what is personally stopping you from networking? Below is a continuum which looks at the whole range of different ways you could start networking. If you lack confidence, start at the top and try out the following ideas to get started with networking. Each week try and push yourself further and further along the continuum until you are a fully fledged networker. If you want support at any stage of the process, book a one-to-one with a Careers Consultant.


Linkedin is one of the key networking tools available to you so it’s important you have a great profile here.

You can use Linked in to:
  • Find people within your network who work in the industries/sectors you are interested in
  • Find people within your network who might be able to support you in a project
  • Get recommended by other people to advertise your capabilities
  • Outline your profile so that people can see your experience and background
  • Join networking groups, such as the Imperial College Business School Linkedin alumni group (which you can access as a current student)
  • Find out more about career paths in an industry that appeals to you

Top tips for having a great Linkedin profile include:

  • Make sure your profile is fully completed and professional. You need to spend as much time on this as you do on getting your CV perfected – and make sure your photo is a professional one.
  • Use your headline to really show what you do – and make sure it is transferable to outside your previous company/role. Look at other peers profiles here for ideas on how you can really sell yourself
  • Use your profile summary to really capture who you are and where you want to be focusing in the future. Think about using the “key words” that recruiters from your area of interest will search for. Quantify any achievements or impact you had.
  • Really think about how you can build your connections. Think back to connections from previous work experience, university and old clubs and societies. Make sure you connect to members of the Careers team.
  • Start to post relevant links to areas you are interested in; this is all about building your brand and educating your networking on the areas you are interested in / excel in
  • Look to get recommendations from previous employers to highlight your capabilities – try and get at least 2 recommendations from each previous employers. You can also ask people to “endorse” you – but make sure you are asking them to endorse skills/qualities that they know you really have

To learn more about LinkedIn features and functionalities, LinkedIn run free online presentations or you can view a pre-recorded session see the LinkedIn Learning Webinars

Key terms

Speculative applications: writing to individuals/companies who are not advertising to see if they have jobs. This is the least successful strategy when networking as it doesn’t really build a relationship.

Speculative approaches: writing to individuals in companies who are not advertising to see if you can meet them to find out more about their company/role. This is much more personal and targeted and therefore increases the likelihood of success.

Informational Interviewing: setting up a meeting with individuals in companies who are not advertising to find out more about their company/role. Following this up with them to continue the relationship.

Remember, it is all about relationships. The stronger a relationship you build with someone, the more likely they are to remember you, and therefore the more likely they are to contact you when opportunities do arise.