Resumes & Cover Letters

3 Tips For Writing a Speculative Cover Letter

How to apply for a job that’s not advertised

What happens if you really want to work for a company, but there aren’t any jobs listed that match your skills, or that you like the look of? Do you:

A. Think – “oh, well, maybe it’s not my time to work for them”.


B. Grab the bull by the horns, take the initiative and apply for a job there anyway?

In case you aren’t sure, the answer is B.

And no, you won’t seem rude or presumptuous to apply for a position that doesn’t actually exist.

If you write your speculative cover letter to best sell yourself and your skills, and have a tailored resume to accurately demonstrate that you not only have the ability, but also the experience to undertake the type of work that you are looking for, then you will be seen as a go-getter.

The HR department will, more than likely, keep your application on file should something appropriate come up.

Or (even better), they might not be aware that they require someone to do the job that you want to do, until you highlight to them that you are keen to do it. In which case, you might find yourself being called in sooner than expected.

So how do you write a speculative cover letter that ends up in the hands of the key decision-makers, when they aren’t actually looking to hire?

We have three tips to help you.

1. See if you have a connection there already

Not only can your connection ensure that your speculative cover letter ends up directly in the hands of the person you are trying to impress, but if you have someone who can vouch for you, then you are eliminating a lot of potential risk that HR departments face when hiring unknowns.

And that is always a huge plus for them.

2. Know the name of the decision-maker

Addressing the speculative cover letter to “whom it may concern” is only going to get you ignored if you’re not applying for an advertised job. If the HR department isn’t expecting your letter and resume, then you run the risk of it being disregarded altogether.

Find out who the key decision-makers are in the field you’re applying to. Hunt them out on LinkedIn, look at the company’s website for a list of team members, or even phone up reception and see if you can get a name. Be proactive in your hunt, show initiative.

This approach has two benefits:

  • Your letter will, at the very least, end up in the hands of the right person.
  • It will demonstrate your enthusiasm and your professionalism at being able to find the correct person (just make sure you spell their name correctly).

3. Be succinct

Nobody wants to read a War and Peace style letter droning on about you and your history.

Understand that the speculative cover letter is not there to get you a meeting, the purpose of the cover letter is solely to encourage the reader to read your resume.

  •      Explain, in as few sentences as possible, why you want to work for the company and why you would be a great fit.
  •      Demonstrate that you understand the needs of the company, don’t make the letter all about you.
  •      Show, don’t tell. Pull key examples from your resume that highlight your particular skillset and use them to display how effective you would be, at the role you would like to undertake, in their company.
  •      Keep it to one page. This not only will prevent you from waffling on, but it will also highlight your ability to be an effective communicator.

If in doubt, remember the old adage ‘don’t ask, don’t get’. You have nothing to lose by putting yourself out there, only lots to gain.

Guest post written by Resume-Library for Mediabistro. For more tips on cover letters, resumes and more visit

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