Speculative Cover Letter: Examples and Writing Tips

Speculative Cover Letter: Examples and Writing Tips

The hidden job market is a treasure chest full of potential jobs that never get advertised. Unlock it with a speculative cover letter. Learn to write one here.

Sometimes you have to think outside the box to get the job you want. A few years ago one brave soul was flooded with job offers after he stood inside Waterloo Station holding a sign saying ‘Marketing Graduate — Please ask for a CV’.

 

That approach isn’t for everyone. But you needn’t just sit back and wait for vacancies to come up on your favourite job site. There’s another way that’s more targeted and doesn’t involve tiring your arms out at a busy train station. 

 

It’s called a speculative cover letter. And it lets you target the companies you want to work for and uncover jobs that aren’t even being advertised. Plus it’s a great way of showing initiative.

 

A good speculative cover letter can be incredibly useful. And in just five minutes you’ll be able to write one yourself.

 

This guide will show you a speculative cover letter example, plus the best tips on how to write a speculative cover letter step-by-step.

 

Let’s get speculating.

 

Speculative Cover Letter Sample

 

Sally York

Business Economics Graduate

96 South Park Road

London

SW16 7AT

0777 777 7777

sally_yorkzety@gmail.com

linkedin.com/in/sallyyorkzety 

 

11th March 2020

 

James Henderson

Head of Analytics
Metalytic
12 Martin Street
London

SW1 3DZ

Dear James,

 

I am a recent Business Economics BSc graduate looking to launch my career in a fast-paced corporate environment as a business analyst. Metalytic’s reputation in the industry is legendary and I’m aware that your training is second to none. The blog you publish has been a great inspiration to me and gave me unique insights that helped me win a graduation prize for my academic paper on econometric modelling. I would love to use my skills to help Metalytic scale new heights and I’m writing to you to see what employment opportunities are available. 

 

I already have some experience of business analytics for the food and beverage sector having completed a summer internship with Morecambe & Wise Associates. I was privileged to assist with a project for PepsiCo Inc. This involved analysing large data sets to optimise fixed and variable cost inputs with a final recommendation for additional invoice validation checks that generated a cost-saving of £1.5m. I understand that Metalytic has just signed a two-year contract with Associated British Foods and this would be the perfect opportunity for me to contribute the skills and knowledge I’ve gained.

 

Thank you kindly for considering my interest in working for Metalytic. I cannot emphasise enough what an amazing opportunity it would be to work for your team and grow my knowledge and experience with you. I’d love to learn more about how I can help contribute to the superb business analytics solutions you offer to your clients. Please give me a call or drop me an email at your convenience, so we can discuss further.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Sally York

 

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

 

sample cv and cover letter set

Sample Cover Letter for a CV—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.

 

Once you’ve finished writing a speculative cover letter, make sure you’ve perfected your CV. Read more:

 

Speculative Cover Letter Template

 

It’s estimated that 75% of jobs are filled without ever being advertised. Without a referral or an inside contact, the only way you can access this goldmine is with a speculative cover letter.

 

Here’s how to write a speculative job application cover letter:

 

1. Use the Correct Speculative Cover Letter Format

 

When writing a speculative cover letter you need to follow the same formatting rules as a standard cover letter. Here’s what to do. 

  • Set one-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Use single or 1.15 line spacing, and put a space between each paragraph.
  • Choose an easily readable font in 11pt to 12pt size. Good CV fonts are perfect for speculative cover letters too.
  • Keep it short and sweet. 70% of employers prefer a cover letter length that’s no more than one page.

Read more: How to Format a Cover Letter in the UK

2. Create a Professional Header

 

Start your speculative cover letter off on the right foot. Follow standard business letter formatting and get the contact details right.

  • Write your name and contact information first, top corner, right-aligned.
  • Include your phone number, email, LinkedIn and optionally, relevant social media handles such as Twitter.
  • Put the date below, also right-aligned and use the right format. E.g. 11th March 2020.
  • Then left-align and include the addressee’s details. It’s best to address your letter to a named person. In this case the manager of the department you’re targeting.

 

Can’t find the name of the hiring manager? Check the company’s website and do some research on LinkedIn. If all else fails, call reception and ask. Don’t be self-conscious, it’s worth it. Using a person’s name has a powerful effect.

 

If you absolutely can’t put a name to the letter then go with ‘Dear Hiring Manager’. It’s the greeting most preferred by hiring managers for cover letters addressed without a name. Please avoid ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. They’re stale, old-fashioned and coldly impersonal.

Read more: How to Address a Cover Letter

3. Start with a Personal Greeting and a Compelling First Paragraph

 

A speculative cover letter is a letter sent to a specific company telling them you’re interested in working with them and enquiring whether there are any job openings that match your skills and experience. So your speculative letter opening has to be attention-grabbing and make the reader hungry for more.

 

Here’s how to start a speculative cover letter:

  • Start with “Dear” and address the hiring manager by name.
  • State which type of role you’re interested in. There won’t be a named job title if there’s no advert but you should target a specific area of work. E.g. ‘I would love to have the opportunity to work with you in a digital marketing role.’
  • Show passion for the company and the industry you’re targeting. It’s basic psychology. You need to make the hiring manager feel flattered that you made the effort to contact them and show yourself as a dedicated potential employee.
  • Highlight an impressive professional achievement to ‘hook’ the reader. That could include increasing sales/revenue, making a saving or beating a target. Include numbers to quantify that achievement and express it as an accomplishment statement.

 

Starting a Speculative Cover Letter (Example)

 

RIGHT

Dear James,

 

I am a recent Business Economics BSc graduate looking to launch my career in a fast-paced corporate environment as a business analyst. Metalytic’s reputation in the industry is legendary and I’m aware that your training is second to none. The blog you publish has been a great inspiration to me and gave me unique insights that helped me win a graduation prize for my academic paper on econometric modelling. I would love to use my skills to help Metalytic scale new heights and I’m writing to you to see what employment opportunities are available. 

WRONG

To Whom It May Concern,

 

I am writing this letter in the hope you may have a suitable job opening available for me. I am a recent Business Economics graduate and I wish to work as a business analyst. I have also enclosed my CV for your perusal.

 

The first example? You can almost picture the writer lazily copy-pasting the same letter to any company they can think of. It’s vague, generic and low energy. It’s not a speculative cover letter, it’s instantly disposable spam.

 

The second is the complete opposite. Passionate, energising and specifically targeted to the company. It also offers value in the form of relevant knowledge and an impressive achievement. A great start.

 

Remember, i you have a connection in the company, now’s the time to mention it. E.g. ‘I learned of the planned expansion of your property management team from my former manager, Tim Munson, who is now your Director of Property Services.’

Read more: How to Start a Cover Letter

 4. Show You’re the Perfect Potential Candidate

 

The best way to do this can be summed up in one word. Research. When you write a standard cover letter you have a job advert to guide you. It’ll have a job description with all the skills and experience required neatly set out for you to refer to. You can then match that to your own skillset to demonstrate that you’re the best candidate for that job.

 

For a speculative cover letter though, you’ll need to dig deeper. Identify the specific employer you want to target. Find out everything you can about the organisation, its corporate values and goals, its staff, its strengths, current challenges it’s facing and the industry it operates in.

 

Use these online sources to research your speculative cover letter:

  • The organisation’s website.
  • Its LinkedIn page and social media profiles.
  • News related to the organisation. Google’s news aggregator is an excellent resource.
  • Industry publications.
  • Review sites like Glassdoor, Work Advisor and The Job Crowd.

 

As you’re researching, think about what that company would look for in a candidate for the type of role you’re targeting. It might even help to imagine what a job advert for your desired role would say. List the skills, experience and knowledge that you’d need to excel.

 

Then use the middle paragraph of your letter to mention some more compelling achievements and match them to what you’ve discovered about the company. Again, quantify your achievements with numbers and use accomplishment statements and the PAR formula to structure them.

 

Infuse your middle paragraph with passion and knowledge about the employer to show genuine interest. Prove why you want to work in this type of job for this company above all others.

 

6. Say Thank You and Include a Call to Action

 

Now for the final paragraph of your speculative cover letter. Time to seal the deal and get the hiring manager itching to pick up the phone to speak to you.

 

Here’s how to end a speculative cover letter:

  • Always suggest a call or a meeting to discuss the role further. This is what’s known as a call to action and it’s a must-have for an effective speculative cover letter.
  • Say thank you. It’s good manners of course because you’ve sent an unsolicited letter and the recruiter has been kind enough to read it. But it also has a powerful effect that goes beyond being polite.
  • Reinforce your value once more—demonstrate goals for growth and/or mention another professional achievement. Really entice the hiring manager to get in touch with you.
  • Continue using a passionate and energetic tone to keep the reader engaged as they finish reading.

 

Speculative Cover Letter Ending Sample

 

RIGHT

Thank you kindly for considering my interest in working for Metalytic. I cannot emphasise enough what an amazing opportunity it would be to work for your team and grow my knowledge and experience with you. I’d love to learn more about how I can help contribute to the superb business analytics solutions you offer to your clients. Please give me a call or drop me an email at your convenience so we can discuss further.

WRONG

I am confident I would be a suitable employee for whatever position you may have available. Thank-you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Once again, the first example is painfully dull. You’ve just wasted five valuable minutes of the hiring manager’s time. The second example though. That absolutely smashes it, with gentle confidence, competence and a real interest in the business. 

 

But don’t run out of steam now. There’s one final part of your speculative cover letter that we need to cover.

Read more: How to End a Cover Letter

7. Finish Strong with a Professional Sign-Off

 

You’re almost done. Don’t ruin it by getting your sign-off wrong. 

 

Here’s how to sign off a speculative cover letter:

  • Sign off with your full name.
  • Yours sincerely is used if you know the person’s name. Yours faithfully if you don’t.
  • Include a digital copy of your handwritten signature below your sign-off.
  • If it’s a cover letter being sent as the body of an email, put your contact details below your signature.

This guide is for speculative cover letters. For standard cover letter writing advice read more here: How to Write a Cover Letter in the UK [Complete Guide]

A well-written speculative cover letter can uncover jobs you’d never find otherwise. Make sure that you write a perfect CV to accompany it.

 

When making a CV in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your CV here.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

 

Key Takeaways

 

A speculative application cover letter can help broaden your job-seeking horizons and let you access jobs that aren’t publicly advertised. But you’ve got to do it right. Here’s a reminder.

  • Use standard business letter formatting and layout rules.
  • Address your letter to a named person and start off strong with a ‘hook’ in your opening paragraph.
  • Do your research. Don’t be generic. Find out everything you can about the company and the industry to show you’re a perfect candidate.
  • Finish with a call to action and use the correct formal sign-off. 

 

Thanks for reading. Over to you. What else would you like to know about writing a speculative cover letter for a job? Need any clarification on what makes a cover letter speculative? Ask away in the comments section and I’ll be happy to reply.

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Jacques Buffett
Jacques is a career expert committed to delivering top-notch job hunting advice. His guides will empower you to craft winning resumes and cover letters.

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