November 22, 2022, by mzyhe3
Exploring for Experiences – My Experience Writing Speculative Applications
By Hannah Evans, Cancer Sciences student blogger
Sometimes you have a job or placement in mind that just isn’t available on any websites. You might have a specific project you want to carry out, a specific experiment you want to try or a specific company you want to work for. When this happens, you should write a speculative application; just because a company isn’t advertising a job doesn’t mean they’ll turn you down if you ask for one.
For my placement next year, I really want to do a project on immuno-oncology (very niche sounding, I know). I could find companies that research this but very few of them were outwardly offering placements. So, I had a go at writing to them. From my experience, these are the main steps to take to ensure you make the most out of writing speculative applications.
Find a company
First things first, you want to start by deciding where you want to apply to. I’ve personally been writing speculative applications to biotech companies, so I found BioPharmGuy UK was a super handy website to find new organisations that I might not have heard of otherwise.
Edit your CV
No person should have just one CV. Of course, having one with all the information on it is useful, but before you apply you want to tailor it specifically for that job. Be sure to put the most important and relevant information towards the top – if an employer only reads a little bit, you want what they read to count. If you’re looking for a job as a software developer, make sure that your experience in computer science is more prominent than your summer job as a waitress.
Write your cover letter
In my opinion, this is the step that you should spend the most time on. It’s crucial that your cover letter outlines both what you want from the job and what you can offer them. You should be explicit about what you want here; if you are looking for a paid placement then you should probably mention this here, otherwise you could get offered a spot and only realise once you’re there that they thought it was voluntary. More than anything this is your chance to really sell what you can do. Confidence is key here! You would be an asset to them, so prove it!
What to Expect
When making speculative applications, don’t be surprised if they don’t all go your way. Some companies physically can’t take you on due to the cost, and as students a lack of experience can sometimes weigh you down (which, trust me, I know is infuriating when the reason you’re applying to said company is to get the experience). A lot of places I applied to came back with an unfortunate no, but a few have come back with a yes. Applying this way will mean you’ve now found an opportunity and experience that no one else will have, making you stand out from the crowd the next time you want to look for work.
Planning on writing a speculative application soon? Check out the Making applications and Cover letters Careers webpages for handy tips and advice.
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