Not all internship and graduate roles are advertised and the 'hidden job market'  describes vacancies that employers do not advertise yet still want to fill. A speculative application is an application made to an employer where a job or internship is not publically advertised but you want to enquire if there is a potential job or internship available. 

Speculative approaches can also be made as part of the networking process. You can find out more about this process, through which you can develop personal contacts and enhance your knowledge of career opportunities, by reading our networking webpage. 

Four key steps to speculative applications

Spec Apps Accordion Widget

Step one: define your interests

 Before making any applications, you need to define your interests and be clear about what you are looking for.

  • Where am I in my career journey, and what do I want to gain?
  • Why do I want to do an internship?
  • Do I want to learn more about an industry or explore a new sector?
  • Does my internship or graduate job need to be in a specific geographical location?

Use resources such as Prospects to explore different job profiles or sectors to help direct your speculative applications to what interests you.

Step two: find the company

Now that you have a better understanding of what you want to do, create a shortlist of companies that match your interests. Use resources such as:

  • JobsLive – browse the JobsLive online employer directory (currently with over 5500 registered employers).
  • LinkedIn – visit the Imperial College London page and utilise the Alumni Tool to search through thousands of profiles and identify new companies. You can select parameters based on industry, geography and even degree disciplines.
  • Professional Bodies and Associations – identify if your sector of interest has affiliated professional bodies or associations, as these often have information or links to employers in their sector via membership lists. For example, ACE for the consulting sector.
  • Google Maps – a search in google maps for your job profile or sector of interest can generate a fantastic list of companies, in your preferred geographical location, matching those key words or tags.  
  • Graduate Outcomes – discover where previous Imperial graduates from your degree have gone on to via our website, to add more company names to your shortlist.

For more suggestions on how to find companies please read the information on researching a career

Step three: tailor your application

Once you have identified the companies you would like to contact, you should try to identify a named person in the department of the company you are interested in, to address your email application to. Search for this on their LinkedIn company page, their company website or call the company and ask who you can address it to. The more personalised approach can indicate that you have taken the time to do your research and are therefore motivated. 

Just like an application to an advertised position, you should include a CV tailored to the kind of role you are seeking within that company for speculative applications. You could consider using job descriptions for similar positions in the industry to gain an insight into what you should be highlighting in your CV. You might also wish to write a more concise one page CV so an employer can see at a glance what you have to offer. Use our resources on CVs and Cover Letters for top tips.

Step four: keep track and follow up

Be sure to keep track of all the speculative applications you are making, as you are unlikely to receive an automated recognition. To improve your chances of success, follow up on any unanswered speculative emails a few weeks after sending them to keep in professional and polite contact with that company.

For further guidance on your speculative applications, please book an Internship or Career Discussion via JobsLive