Hunting for jobs can be a frustrating task - here we'll give you some ideas for creative job hunting, that isn't just looking on the main job sites, and give you practical tips on how to stand out.
The main aim of creative or speculative job hunting is to find the hidden opportunities that are not advertised. These can often be in organisations which are expanding or where a position may be becoming vacant very shortly. Contacting companies and hoping they have a vacancy may seem like an inefficient use of time but you might be surprised at how often people are successful . A survey conducted by the UNC found that 35% of graduates gained employment through speculative methods. When compared to more traditional methods of job hunting, for example using the internet, newspapers and agencies, this method was the most productive!
Sources of information on hidden vacancies:
Your network: Often people you know, or people they know, have some information about jobs or companies which may be expanding or will be recruiting. These contacts could be friends, relatives, tutors or lecturers. Even current job or volunteering contacts can be used. Start building your network on LinkedIn as early as possible, making connections with people in companies and industries you're interested in, and don't be afraid to post that you are looking for work!
Alumni information and careers office.
Local business news, newspapers and trade/business directories.
Attending meetings, lectures and even open conferences allows you to make valuable contacts that have information on new positions.
Agencies may also have information on organisations that may be looking to employ soon.
Making and nurturing your network
Everyone has a network of contacts, and no two people have the same, no matter how close you are. Talk to people, make connections wherever you can and follow up with people you meet. You never know who you could be talking to, and it may be that all important contact you did not know you needed.
Some tips on expanding and utilising your network:
Use LinkedIn – it is a fantastic portal to connect with people within the industry you're interested in, and a good way to keep up with news and trends.
Use and increase your network - cultivate your existing contacts and research who they could know. Connect with your connections, connections!
Keep good records of who you have contacted and when.
Spend time researching organisations and potential roles, then make contact with people in these roles and companies.
Get in touch with people, there are lots of publicly available email addresses, don't be shy, say hi! Ask if they can't help, do they know someone that can.
Some things you may want to ask you new contacts:
How did you get where you are now?
What is your educational background?
What skills do you need in your position?
What talents/training/skills do you look for when employing?
What is your company structure?
Can I leave my CV?
How to send a speculative application.
When sending a speculative application letter, ensure it is tailored to the organisation/person you are contacting. Employers can always tell when someone has sent a generic letter, compared to one that has been personalised. Research the company and industry, and ensure your CV and covering letter show how you would fit with the company values and culture.
Make sure you are sending the application to a relevant person, if you aren't sure who this is send it to the most likely person and include a note that you would ne grateful if they could pass on your email if they aren't the person that hires for the position.
More tips for job hunting success
Be persistent – creative or speculative applications shouldn't replace traditional job hunting. This is about using your connections and building your confidence to increase your chances of getting the job you really desire!
Have a support group of like-minded people to help you. Share resources and help with each others applications.
Attend events, careers fairs or open conferences, arrange visits or meetings and/or work shadowing opportunities where possible. This is great way to make yourself noticed.
When using traditional job sites, find ones which post the sorts of jobs you're interested in.
Register for job alerts on key sites such as Change Agents, LinkedIn and other industry specific jobs sites.
Writing a Speculative Application Email
Your speculative application email is a short email introducing yourself as a potential candidate for any jobs which might be coming up. Success could lead to work experience, paid employment or an internship. Even if it doesn't lead directly to one of these it will certainly make you stand out when they are recruiting in the future!
A speculative email should be formal and ideally be addressed to an individual person (you'll have found this person through your research). It might feel a bit odd to make an email very formal but remember this person doesn't know you yet! Choose a sensible and snappy subject line - John Doe, Ecologist looking for opportunities. If you have referenced a mutual contact in the letter you could also include them (with their permission).
No one want's to read war and peace in their lunch break so keep your email short and easy to read. Separate it into paragraphs and start with your intention.
Outline your knowledge of the company and how you came to know about them. Very importantly include what interests you most about them.
Include a BRIEF summary of why you are contacting them and who you are.
Briefly explain what you can offer and why you'd be a good addition to the team.
Finish with a a summary and note that you would welcome any opportunity to gain experience with, work for or just visit the company.
Attach you CV! This should be relevant and tailored to the company
A Final Note
The jobs market can be very competitive and often employers have to choose between two 'ideal' candidates. Getting turned down can feel like a failure and that you did something wrong, but in reality you were almost given the job. Persevere, and if things aren't going your way reach out again to your contacts, see if one of them would help review your CV and covering letter, and see how you can fill any skills gaps. There's more than one route to most dream jobs so keep forging on!