What a speculative email is and how one can land you a graduate job

Nathan Ouriach
Marketing Executive

Not all companies have graduate schemes and not all people fit them - but don’t worry, there are alternative ways to secure your ideal job. It’s time to consider the ‘speculative email’.



1. Focusing only on Graduate Schemes is detrimental, as you risk missing out on other opportunities that could be right for you.

Advertised jobs can take a lot of time to find and apply for and come with increased competition. The benefit of the speculative email is that it’s a useful way to approach smaller employers who don’t always have the budget to host their opportunities on the bigger jobs boards. By approaching these companies directly, you place the power in your own hands.

2. With the research behind you, contacting the right person directly can place you ahead of other competitors who are relying on middle men.

We understand the fear behind sending an unknown email and hoping HR don’t print it off and read it aloud in a funny voice to their entire office as they all lampoon you. But realistically, that’s not going to happen is it?

All of your emails need to be tailored to each individual company, and to achieve this you need to be able to answer certain questions about them:

- How is it currently performing?
- Who are their competitors?
- What are their plans for growth?
- What are their values and recent achievements?

All of these can be found on the company website’s ‘About Us’ page, social media channels and, obviously, Google. You then need to consider how your skill-set can supplement theirs.

One trick is to view the vacancies that the company do have advertised and to look for certain personality and professional traits that they require. Ignore that the company are looking for a Front End Developer (unless that’s where your talents lie, of course) and focus more on the characteristics they desire. Do they want a “team player” or “excellent presentation skills”? Render these requirements with your own history to show how you can integrate well with their ethos. 


1. Find the right recipient

There are a few avenues. Firstly, you can drop the company’s HR director a call and politely ask for the name of whoever is responsible for recruiting. Failing that, look for the company’s Head of Department or, if it is a small company, head straight to the Managing Director. You will want to find someone with hiring authority rather than someone who will send your email to the trash. If you are able to target the correct member of staff that you know or may have spoken to previously - via LinkedIn, a Graduate Fair or a phone call – even better.


1. How to start it

You’ve selected a list of companies; you’ve learned everything you can about their culture and targets and by your side is a list of employer emails and contact numbers. You need to remember that there isn’t a T100 at the other end of your email but a real human, who doesn’t like Monday mornings and who also appreciates politeness. Choose the right time to send your speculative email – we’d suggest first thing Tuesday or Wednesday.

State what you are looking for in your opening sentence, such as a permanent vacancy, work experience or even job shadowing. The top of your application is incredibly significant, so avoid anything bland. Once you’ve established what you want, it is then up to your discretion on how to continue.

If you’re applying for a position in media or journalism, attach links to your published work, blog, social networking sites or e-zines. If you apply for a designer job, make sure your CV isn’t a Word document written in Times New Roman. We’d also advise against addressing an accountancy firm as “bro” or contacting a young, creative start-up with essay-like formality. Use anecdotes that reveal your personality as well as your attachment to the company, or even try something wily like a CV in a greetings card.

2. How to end it

The best way to close the email is with a 'call to action'. An example sentence could be:

“I would be interested to discuss ways in which my skills could help drive your expansion…”

You want to show that the conversation isn’t over. By following this up with a promise to call in a week, for example, shows your intent. Regardless of whether you receive a positive reply after a week, you still ought to give them a ring. If nothing else, you will learn crucial information about future opportunities with the company, where they usually advertise, as well as their recruitment process.

The world is, unfortunately, full of graduates and now more than ever it necessitates people going the extra inch to get the job they dream of. Remove the fear of speculative emails and be confident to take the step and target the exact job you want. Make your own graduate scheme. 


Sign up for the latest graduate jobs and career advice: