Making a speculative approach
Over the years I have read articles to do with making a speculative approach to a company. All the examples I have seen of this have been based on the idea that the company is doing something and may need this “skill”. The almost classic example is a company publishing a magazine and budding digital designers then offer their skills citing all the good work they have already done for others.
This approach seems to rely on the fact that your target company is doing something, you think they will need your skills and that may lead to a job. But what if the company is not doing ‘much’ to warrant interest in your skills.
Do you just move on or try something/anything regardless. Can anyone offer advice on how to approach a prospective employer if they are not doing anything you can hook into?Posted by Metroman 26th February 2020 at 4:18 pm
Reply by Metroman 15th June 2020 at 7:57 pm
Your first suggestion about research is broadly speaking true but not efficient. I would never consider that unless I had indications of a return.
I was lucky enough o come across some interesting podcasts on iTunes that recommended considering Compensation, Values, Industry Stability, Reputation, Opportunities, Location, Company Financials and Customer Base. After deciding what your priorities were. This i think is more focused than minute company research.
To follow up on your second point, about the company site I would say again a good general point but lacking in flare and initiative. I’d add in all the social media outlets (you did mention Linkedin) . Some companies include links on their website. We can again add to that with certain jobboards that have more than just company profiles and reviews. A couple spring to mind as I write this. there are also sites such as companies house and more, including a few online directories.
To finish up my first point , i think a 3 stage approach is more refined. So identify what potential there is. That is where social media and job boards come in. they have the potential to provide nuggets that can give indications of how fruitful a deep dive could be.
having said all that i may be back in a few months to say how my research is going. Once again thanks for your points and taking the time to respond.
Reply by martin 2nd April 2020 at 9:02 pm
I can understand your scepticism. The story is true. The applicant looked at the organisation’s website (a not-for-profit research outfit) and could see readily the ways in which she could improve their click through numbers by making some changes.
I could also describe my own experience in which I wrote speculatively to an organisation I really wanted to work for. I wrote a hard copy letter on posh paper to the HR Director whom I researched on LinkedIn and using my own network. Got a polite response saying nothing available but she’d send my CV to her recruiting team. A year later, I saw the perfect vacancy for me. My application covering letter now could quote that the HR Director and I had been correspondence. Shameless name dropping but it worked. I was invited to interview. I got to the final stage but didnt get the offer. That’s no criticism of the spec approach though.
Your experience of sending in a speculative CV and getting a result some time later does not surprise me. So I urge my coaching clients who are seeking work to keep plugging away at speculatives as the more organisations you approach, the higher your chance of success.
There’s a serendipity factor here. The more you send out the greater the chance of a manager reading it and saying “That’s a coincidence. We were talking only last week about needing somebody with specialist widget fettling skills” It’s partly down to luck but you improve your chances by doing research and knowing the organisation to whom you’re writing really well
From your last post I sense that you’re seeking some new insight (silver bullet?) that will make the process easier. I’m not sure there is one beyond research, hard grind and keeping going in the face of no response. A bit like getting fit or losing a lot of weight. There are times where you think you’re getting nowhere but if you keep at it, the results will come
Hope this helps and good luck
Reply by Metroman 3rd April 2020 at 11:54 am
Thank you for taking the time to respond so kindly, politely & positively. I appreciate that most of all. My purpose in posting was to look for any new insights, not necessarily a silver bullet because I hit the job trail after being in work for 30 years.
Thank you also, for confirming your story. I am happy with that and yours because my job came about through one of many speculative applications over 30 years ago. My confusion comes from the vast amount of fact and opinion, all mixed up that constantly circulates.
I particularly liked your 2nd story because exactly the same thing happened to me twice from the same company. So far I have had one first Interview and am hoping for the 2nd 1st interview soon. So what you say mirrors my own experience and i find that extremely reassuring.
This week i have spent a lot of time rolling up my sleeves and trying to create my own process for speculating and all that you say encourages me so again thank you very much.
over and out
Reply by martin 5th March 2020 at 2:46 pm
The advice given by Susan is spot on. All about research and connections.
The thing with speculatives is that you’re trying to engineer things so that you’re the only candidate to whom they’re talking as they didn’t realise they needed you until you approached them. Or they’d barely started to think about needing somebody before your email arrived.
So if they don’t seem to be ‘doing something’ that might call on your skills, move on and find an organisation that is.
Or, do some research on them and see if you can unearth weaknesses or problems. Glassdoor might be a source of intelligence. Or any LinkedIn connections who have worked there before. A client of mine is a digital marketing specialist and presented her speculative approach to her target company by telling them she could double or triple their click through rate. She filled the vacancy they didn’t know they had.
A speculative email isn’t like a covering letter in a formal job application. A speculative is really the start of a conversation between two businesses. You and the organisation that you’ve approached. The letter should start by showing that you understand the organisations directions, strengths and current events.
“I noticed in the local news that Acme are opening a new facility at xxxx location in the near future. This sounds like an exciting development for you. The opening will be a significant moment in the Company’s history. So I wanted to draw your attention to my availability as Facility Commissioning Manager. I’ve opened new plant for xxx, xxx and xxx with great success.”
Or something like that. It’s only worth sending in if you can get the name of the responsible senior manager who might be your prospective Line Manager. LinkedIn can help you find her/him. So if you’re a Lean Six Sigma specialist, you want to find the Director of Manufacturing or the Head of Quality etc. Don’t send it the HR Recruiting team who will simply (with good reason) direct you to the jobs page of their website. You’re trying to bypass that.
The perfect outcome is that the manager calls you because she/he is intrigued by your suggestion. You have a chat as two equals and make an impression. Then meet for an coffee. Eventually the Line Manager goes to HR and says that she/he would like to create a vacancy for you. Result.
Doesn’t happen often though. A more likely outcome is that the Manager writes back saying that she/he has no vacancies. So you ask if she/he knows of anybody else at the company (or any other organisations) might be able to use your skills. You might hear something useful. Or the Line Manager politely declines you only to email 6 months later to say something like “This isn’t exactly what you asked about but we do have an opportunity for a (similar role). Would that be of interest? If so I’ll send your CV over to HR”
Reply by Metroman 25th March 2020 at 2:12 pm
I’ve just been think again about what you say and a very interesting point just struck me.
In these days of legal constraints for hiring and such as sexism, ageism etc. how would you say this can be complied with when you try to bypass HR?
Reply by Helen Burns 30th March 2020 at 3:07 pm
It’s a really valid question. Many companies will ensure that their hiring managers are appropriately trained in the fundamentals of HR best practice, so they will understand their obligations around discrimination, privacy laws and effective (and legal) recruitment and interviewing practices. In reality, this may not always be the case and it is often HR’s role to guide the manager through the process appropriately, particulalry if they do not recruit regularly.
Every company is different in how it handles speculative approaches; some will be referred directly to HR/Recruitment to deal with; some will, as Martin mentioned, let you know directly whether they have something suitable or have had their interest piqued. The practice of sharing your CV around the business or ‘holding you on file’ in their email has been somewhat curtailed by GDPR legislation, unless your details are being held on a central system (sometimes call an ATS or Applicant Tracking System) where privacy permissions can be centrally managed.
Reply by Metroman 31st March 2020 at 9:53 am
Thank you for repsonding to that question. The bottom line i think is that what Susan and Martin say is now well trodden ground.
To be honest i was hoping for fresh insights, but i think i’ll just need to go forth and tread carefully.
Reply by Metroman 25th March 2020 at 12:46 pm
Thank you for such a detailed and professional response.
I have a list of several websites including LinkedIn and Glassdoor as well as some job boards that offer company and employee insights. I have also been making friends with Companies house for their alerts.
I’m assuming your Digital marketing story is genuine because it sounds much like one quoted in a workbook I used to have. Apologies for seeming to doubt you.
I was most interested in the scenario you describe in your final paragraph. That has happened to me twice recently.
Your response is in keeping with other opinions I have had and I think that the bottom line seems to be that for research in the right way to unearth a suitable lead there may a very small opportunity.
Thank you again.
Reply by susan 5th March 2020 at 6:15 pm
Wow, Martin what excellent advice! Inspirational and great to know of a real example where it worked and your client managed to get a job as the digital marketing specialist they didn’t know they needed!
It’s an amazing skill to notice – and make the most of – those gaps isn’t it?
Reply by susan 28th February 2020 at 1:32 pm
Hi, this is a fascinating question. Am I right in presuming this would involve applying to a company that you really admire and want to work for, even if it’s not an ‘obvious’ fit or perhaps is the only big employer near to where you live? So you’d have to think out of the box to ‘hook’ their interest?
I’d suggest researching the company as minutely as possible. You mentioned the example of a publishing company where digital designers could offer their skills. Nowadays virtually every company or business has a web presence and would need digital input. Many also produce newsletters digitally or even send out publicity material which would need digital and media skills too. This is just an example of what someone who is a content writer or digital designer could do about finding work. They don’t have to only look at the big magazines or newspapers for anymore. They could end up writing content and publicity material for Coca-Cola or the local betting shop’s website for instance.
I’d also look at the company’s site and study what job advertisements they are currently advertising even if they do not obviously match my skills because that should give you a deeper insight into possibilities. The whole experience would also have to be an exercise in you thinking out of the box about what skills you have to offer. I’d suggest looking at your CV and then seeing where even minor skills or roles might resonate with the company including life skills gained over many years of work. In this case the links won’t be obvious as you said.
Another way I would look at is going to LinkedIn and seeing if I have any contacts or know anyone who has links to the company and possibly try and ask them for advice about possible roles. And also if they could suggest possible names of people I could contact to find out if there are possibilities (often jobs aren’t advertised as you probably know).
Let me know if this is the kind of scenario you’re describing. I’d love to see what other members think too!