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How to Write a Job Application Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter is essential when applying for jobs. This is the perfect way to express how your specific skills are relevant to the open position. Wow your future employer with this simple cover letter example format.

Write a First Draft

Writing a first draft makes your letter concise and professional, states The Balance Careers. Organize your thoughts by making a list of what you’re trying to convey. Make sure you prioritize certain aspects like your previous job experience and why you would be a good fit for the position. Clearly state what position you’re interested in and why. Think about why you’re applying and what caught your eye about this specific position. Your cover letter will be easier to write after your thoughts are collected and organized.

Customize Your Salutation

When writing a salutation, make sure you know who you are writing to. Is this person the owner of the company or a Human Resources administrator? If you’re not sure, research the company to find out. Addressing your cover letter to a specific person shows initiative and attention to detail. After your salutation, start your letter with a short introduction of yourself. This gives future employers insight into who you are and the purpose of your cover letter.

Write Intentionally

Your cover letter should be no more than one page, so keep your points brief. Clearly state what position you are interested in and why. Explain why you are a good fit for the company because of your past job experience. If you have no similar job experience, let the employer know why you are changing career paths. Expand on your skills and give specific examples of how that skill set helped you at your last position. Name projects you’ve worked on and show results.

Close Your Letter

End your cover letter with a brief sentence and sign off. Thank the employer for their time and express your interest towards the job again. Let them know you’ll follow up with them if you do not hear back within a week and leave your contact information. Sign off with a professional farewell and leave room for a signature if sending a hard copy.

Edit and Proofread

As you finish writing your cover letter, make sure you take time to edit and proofread your document. Make sure it’s structured in a professional format with the company’s information, the salutation and introduction, the body of the letter, a brief closing sentence and farewell. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes to ensure a formal result. Make sure all names are spelled correctly, as well.


speculative letter and cover letter

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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.

Jacques Buffett, CPRW

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.

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

Create your cover letter now

sample resume and cover letter set

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

Let’s get speculating.

Speculative Cover Letter Sample

Business Economics Graduate

96 South Park Road

0777 777 7777

[email protected] 

11th March 2020

James Henderson

Head of Analytics Metalytic 12 Martin Street London

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,

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. 

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.

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:

Starting a Speculative Cover Letter (Example)

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:

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:

Speculative Cover Letter Ending Sample

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:

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 .

Create the perfect CV

When you’re done, Zety’s CV builder will score your CV 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.

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.

Jacques Buffett, CPRW

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How to Write a Speculative Cover Letter

How to Write a Speculative Cover Letter

Updated January 14, 2023

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A speculative cover letter is sent to apply for or enquire about a job that is not currently being advertised.

You should consider making a speculative job application if you are:

To find out which jobs fit your personality best, visit our partner CareerFitter and take the Career Test for FREE .

Pass the Quiz for FREE

Sending a speculative job application can be an effective way to show you are keen, motivated and committed to your career goals .

Remember, even if the company you send your speculative cover letter to doesn’t have any current job vacancies, opening a dialogue with them could help to ensure you are at the top of the list when a suitable vacancy comes up in the future.

What Is a Speculative Cover Letter?

Much like a standard cover letter , a speculative cover letter accompanies your CV when you are applying for a job. However, a speculative cover letter is different from a standard cover letter in a few ways.

Standard cover letters are usually sent when applying for an advertised vacancy and should be tailored to that vacancy. In contrast, a speculative cover letter is sent to apply for a job that has not been advertised.

Standard cover letters need to be highly focused on niche or specialist skills that are outlined in a job description or person specification.

In contrast, a speculative cover letter should:

As with any cover letter, a well written speculative cover letter will provide you with the opportunity to engage with the recipient and start building up a positive rapport.

Who Should I Send My Speculative Cover Letter To?

Where possible, try to send your speculative job application to a particular person, rather than a generic department.

If you are not sure of the name of the person you should send your speculative cover letter to, have a look at the employer’s website. Try to find out the name of the manager for the department you are interested in working for.

Alternatively, you could call the HR department to find out the name of the department manager.

Sending your speculative cover letter to a specific person will help to ensure your letter is read by the most appropriate employee or department. It will also show that you have carried out some background research into the company and its current employees.

You can choose to send a speculative cover letter by email or by letter. The advantage of a letter is that it will land on somebody’s desk, making it harder to ignore.

What to Include in a Speculative Cover Letter

Your speculative cover letter will need to be both engaging and informative.

As you are not writing to apply for one particular job role, you will need to provide an overview of the skills and experience that you have gained so far. A speculative job application aims to show the employer that you are a good all-rounder, not just a specialist in one single area.

Whilst a speculative cover letter is not tailored to a particular job role, it will need to be written specifically for an employer. So, if you are planning to send out more than one speculative job application, you will need to adjust each letter accordingly.

A speculative cover letter will need to include the following information:

A brief outline of the type of job role you would be interested in applying for

Information on your existing skills and experience and how these could be of benefit to the business

An outline of the reasons why you would like to work for the business

A closing summary to reiterate what you would be able to offer to the business

An assertive, confident call to action to end the letter; for example, ‘I look forward to hearing from you soon’, instead of, ‘I hope to hear from you soon’

When writing your speculative cover letter, try not to repeat the information contained within your CV.

Don’t forget to include your name, address and contact details (including your mobile telephone number and email address).

If you are unable to find out the specific manager’s name, start your letter with ‘ Dear Sir/Madam ’ and close it with ‘ Yours faithfully ’.

If you have managed to find a named person to send the letter to, you can start your letter with ‘ Dear [Name] ’ and close the letter with ‘ Yours sincerely ’.

Example Speculative Cover Letter

Here is an outline of what your speculative cover letter should look like. This speculative cover letter template is for a person who wants to make an application to a legal firm.

Jane Laws 1 The Street Townford TR17 9NQ 01234 567891 [email protected] Mrs D Judge Legal Practice London W3 2QQ Dear Mrs Judge I would like to enquire whether you have any current administrative vacancies within your firm. Please find enclosed my CV, which outlines the experience I have gained during my career to date. Having worked as a legal secretary for the past five years, I have demonstrated my commitment to providing high-quality legal administration services. I have a sound working knowledge of industry terminology and legal working practices. I am proud that my dedication and commitment to my work has been recognised through a recent nomination for the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs ‘Legal PA of the Year Award’. My experience to date has been gained through working for two small legal practices. While this has been both challenging and enjoyable, I would like to develop my skills and experience further in a fast-paced, busy role. I understand your company is one of the largest legal practices in London with continuing plans for growth, making it the ideal place to pursue my future career objectives. As an administrative worker for your firm, I would strive to support your partners with high-quality secretarial support. I am a competent typist with a keen eye for detail and a proven ability to cope under pressure at all times. I would be delighted to have the opportunity to discuss my application with you in further detail. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Yours sincerely Jane Laws

What Happens Next?

After you post your speculative cover letter, you will need to be patient. You probably won’t hear anything straight away but, hopefully, the recipient of your letter will be in touch to discuss job vacancies you may be suitable for.

If you still haven’t heard anything back within two weeks, it is advisable to follow up with the employer directly, to check that they have received your letter.

If they say that they haven’t received it, ask them whether they would be happy for you to re-send it over to them. At this point, you could find out whether they would be happy for you to send it by email, as they will know to look out for it in their inbox.

Even if the manager says that there are no suitable vacancies available at the moment, you could still ask them to provide you with constructive feedback on your speculative job application. This will help you to improve any speculative applications you make in the future.

Tips for Writing Your Speculative Cover Letter

1. do your research.

Find out as much as you possibly can about the business you are planning to write to. For example:

The company website is a good place to start. You could also browse through relevant social media pages, press releases and industry-specific content like blogs or newsletters.

Use the information that you find to help you write your speculative job application. For example, if you already have a particular qualification or skill that they want all of their employees to have, make sure this is clearly stated within your application.

Or, if you find out that they are planning to expand or acquire another company, let them know if this is a process you have had experience with in the past.

2. Keep Your Speculative Cover Letter Short and Professional

It is important to keep your speculative cover letter short and to the point . Keep the content succinct and focused – doing so will help to ensure the recipient reads it and digests the information it contains.

A letter that is too long will probably end up in the waste paper bin before it has even been read.

To ensure your letter makes a good first impression, set it out formally, use an easy-to-read font (such as Calibri or Arial, size 11 or 12) and write a maximum of five short paragraphs.

3. Proofread

When making speculative job applications, your cover letter is the one opportunity you have to make a good impression. If the text is littered with spelling and grammar errors, this is unlikely to make the manager want to call you to discuss a potential job opening.

Make sure you proofread your letter thoroughly, and ask a friend or family member to check through it too.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for ways to progress your career, there is no need for you to wait for the perfect job vacancy to be advertised online.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by sending out a speculative job application. After all, your employer of choice could be just waiting for somebody with your skills and experience to make contact with them.

By sending a speculative job application to your preferred employers, you will show them that you are confident, enthusiastic and willing to go the extra mile to achieve your career objectives.

Don’t forget, a speculative cover letter aims to show the employer why you would be a great addition to their existing team. Ensure your application gives an overview of your existing qualifications, skills and experience, and how this could help the business to achieve its goals.

Was this article helpful?

You might also be interested in these other WikiJob articles:

How to Write a Cover Letter

Or explore the Application Advice / Job Applications sections.

Speculative cover letter

If you're looking for a job in a competitive industry you may need to be proactive with your search as not all roles are formally advertised. Discover what to include in a speculative cover letter

Speculative approaches can be a great way of getting your foot in the door in competitive industries. They demonstrate dedication and a proactive nature and can give you an early start on your competition.

In the opening paragraph of a speculative cover letter explain what sort of role you're looking for. Then move on to show you've done your research by explaining why you're attracted to the company.

Next you need to talk about the skills and experience you have gained that are relevant to the company and the type of role you're looking for. It's best to show that you're an all-rounder so don't restrict yourself by focusing on one skill or area.

Finally, end on a positive note. Thank them for taking the time to read your application and that you look forward to hearing from them soon.

Please be aware that this is an example. Use this cover letter template to help generate ideas and structure your own document but avoid copying and pasting. Your cover letter needs to be original and tailored to the job you're applying for.

Anika Nawar 42 The Grove Grovetown CQ55 1WX [email protected] 07788123123

Julia Corning Graduate manager Media Company Business Shed Enterprise Street London SE1 J99

15th April 2021

Dear Ms Corning

I am a second-year media design student who is looking to gain some industry experience. I would like to do a summer placement/internship with Media Company and am writing to you to see what opportunities there are.

I know Media Company has a strong reputation in the industry. I was particularly attracted by the work you did for X Communications, which I came across during research for a university project. Your designs caught my eye and your understanding of the UX made our project flow well - and helped us achieve top marks for our year.

My website shows the range of my work, including a project for sportXperience.

As you can see from my CV I have attended industry events including:

These were a great opportunity to network with peers and meet industry experts.

Along with a group of other students, I have been instrumental in setting up a blog . We have run two online student events and are currently crowdfunding a live event.

I can offer Media Company my flexibility, excellent time management skills, entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to work hard and learn quickly.

I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you.

Yours sincerely

(Sign your name here)

Anika Nawar

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Search advice

Speculative cover letters: what you need to know.

speculative letter and cover letter

by Michael Cheary

How do you get a job without a job advert? It’s all speculative…

Unfortunately, some vacancies won’t always be advertised online. But instead of getting discouraged when your perfect position isn’t on offer, there is another way to stand out to recruiters and find a job with a company you love.

We’ve already covered what cover letters are , but here’s our guide to speculative cover letters (just in case):

What is a speculative cover letter?

A speculative cover letter is sent alongside your CV when you apply to a company that isn’t currently advertising for staff.

Rather than being written with a particular position in mind, they’re usually more tailored to the company – selling your skills, experience and potential should any potential vacancies arise.

How to: Write a cover letter 

Free cover letter template

What should a speculative cover letter include?

OK, so the specifics of what to include will vary depending on the job you’re applying for. Not to mention where you currently are in your career.

However, the format of a speculative letter will be fairly similar to a standard cover letter:

Why should I send one?

Companies may not always advertise their available roles, for a variety of different reasons.

It could be that they’ve only just come up, or that they have to wait for internal applicants before putting the job out there. Or they might just not have any current vacancies on offer.

However, by sending a speculative application, you can demonstrate that you’re proactive and ahead of the game when it comes to your career. And even if they don’t have any roles at the moment, you’ll ensure you’re front-of-mind if a suitable position does come up.

Because the company might need you – even if they don’t know it yet.

Four secrets your interviewers aren’t telling you

Eight ways you’re selling yourself short in your job search

How does it differ from my CV?

Cover letters are important for all applications, but they take on even more importance for speculative ones.

CVs tend to be rigid, professional and impersonal. In contrast, your cover letter allows you to create a rapport with the reader and showcase how right you are for the company in a much more engaging way.

And, without a specific job to apply for, you need to work even harder to stand out. A well-written cover letter will talk about your skills, previous projects and selling points, and help keep you keep front of mind if any suitable jobs do come up.

How long should it be?

Just over half a page of A4 – and no longer.

It should outline why you’re a great potential hire, and what makes you a great fit for the company. It should not be War and Peace.

Should I include some research about the company?

Let’s face it, recruiters are as prone to flattery as anyone else. By explaining why you want to work for their company, without even knowing if there are any roles available, you instantly demonstrate that you buy in to their product or company culture.

A few well-researched facts could be all it takes to back your interest up, not to mention show your dedication to the business before you’ve even joined.

Big or small company: Which is right for you

How to: Research a company before you apply

How do I send a speculative application?

Firstly, try and find the appropriate person to address it to (e.g. the hiring manager, or a member of the HR team).

If you can find their email address, great. You can send it to general addresses, but it’s likely to get lost in the sea of other emails – so make sure it has a killer subject line.

Alternatively you can post the application, if you have the company’s address.

What do I do next?

Now you wait.

Usually the company will get in touch, to let you know whether they have any available positions, and if your application has been successful. However, this could take a little time to come through.

Alternatively, contacting the recruiter a few weeks after you send it is a great way to find out if they received your speculative cover letter and CV, as well as getting constructive feedback .

Remember: speculative cover letters won’t always work. But you won’t know until you try.

After all, what have you got to lose?

Four ways to follow-up after an application

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Speculative Cover Letter Example

Speculative Cover Letter Example

Many job opportunities have been discovered via the principle ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get.’

Just because a job has not been advertised doesn’t mean that a recruitment process is not in progress. What’s more, the fact that a job opening doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that it can’t be created for you. A well-targeted speculative cover letter can reveal a gold mine of potential roles.

Speculative cover letters are so normal that the best managers will always give them a quick glance. Why wouldn’t a hiring manager take a quick glimpse at someone who could move the needle for their department?

If the speculative cover letter is a good one, but they don’t have a role currently, they will likely invite the writer to join their LinkedIn network. If it is convincing enough, it might warrant an exploratory chat. And if they are indeed recruiting, well, the writer wins brownie points for initiative and accesses a role that would have otherwise gone begging.

While there are complicated arguments around whether and when to write a speculative cover letter, for the sake of this guide let’s assume that you have a valid reason. But what should you include in the document? How do you explain your value for a job that doesn’t yet exist? In this wiring guide, we explore the following:

Best format for a speculative cover letter

Speculative cover letters differ from normal cover letters in a few ways, but their content should still follow a set format. The introductory paragraph should be a little longer to set the scene. The middle part should be more focused on arguing a potential fit than a normal cover letter and the conclusion should contain more hope than expectation. 

Nevertheless, the standard format of any cover letters still applies:

With any speculative cover letter, you need to be crystal clear about your value the whole way through. You can’t know exactly what role might come your way, so it is hard to tailor it for any specific opportunity. Be brave, be bold, and go out there with the very best version of your career story (and what you want out of your next role and future career).

A regular cover letter would focus on the culture fit with the potential employer and a speculative cover letter is no different. Each letter will be specific to each employer, so show that you are a perfect fit for the workplace. Most speculative cover letters will be generic in this respect, so this is your chance to stand out.

The comprehensive cover letter guide offers more detail in terms of the other cover letter writing advice. Our speculative cover letter example will hopefully offer some inspiration:

Dear Mr. Potts,

I am an experienced customer service manager with five years of experience. I have recently moved to Birmingham and am looking for opportunities in the area. I have been a follower of Core Customer for several years, and wanted to introduce myself.

As an accomplished customer service representative, I have successfully maintained my position in the top 1% of employees in terms of customer satisfaction feedback in all of my roles so far. In fact, my most recent position as Digital Satisfaction Manager was a promotion based on my consistent excellent results in customer service. In this management role I learned how to lead a team as well as implement complex customer journeys in collaboration with the digital marketing department. My degree in tourism and hospitality further establishes my expertise in resolving complaints and ensuring customer satisfaction.

My strongest skills lie in digital customer services. I feel this ties in well with your philosophy of convenience for the customer and innovating a service that responds to the average customer’s habits. In fact, I honed many of my skills in digital customer service best practice by using your free online resources on the topic. This was how I was first introduced to Core Customer. I would love the opportunity to contribute to a company where digital innovation and customer satisfaction are key values.

While I could not find any roles you are actively hiring for, I hope you will keep my details on file. Please do not hesitate to reach out if something appropriate comes available, or you would like to speak to me more about my profile.

Yours Sincerely,

Thomas Bateman

Cover letter header

While the text of your speculative cover letter is likely best copied into the body of an email, you should still attach a formal cover letter. It may be sent to other people and stored on the employer’s ATS system.

There are many types of design for a cover letter header. As this is an unsolicited application, we would advise opting for something visually simple. You want the hiring manager to get straight into the detail of the letter rather than being distracted by intricate designs. You cannot be seen to be wasting their time or attention in any way.

In both cases, include your full name, email address and mobile number. These details should be prominent in the cover letter header. You don’t have to include your home address until you are at the job offer stage (data protection issues here). 

The ‘inside address’ of the employer should only be included if you want to be incredibly formal and it looks a little strange in a speculative cover letter. You have better things to do with your job search time.

Cover letter greeting and introduction

Finding out to whom a speculative cover letter should be addressed is one of the greatest challenges, but if you send it to a generic internal HR or recruitment email, you can be sure that it will be deleted. Individual hiring managers might read the cover letter. Generalist recruiters definitely won’t (they get hundreds of speculative applications every day).

Do your research, find out who your potential hiring manager is and send them an email. Address the letter and email ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Surname.’ No other greeting is acceptable — you have not met this person yet. Consider connecting with them on social media and maybe send them a DM to let them know that you have written to them.

The introduction of a speculative cover letter needs to do so much more heavy lifting than a normal cover letter. Those couple of lines should spell out your value in such a way that the hiring manager decides to interrupt their day and think about something entirely unexpected. ‘It is a little out of the blue, but could this person do a job for me?’

It takes time to work out exactly which problem you solve for them. The more specific your sales pitch, the greater the chances of getting that interview invite. Address their main pain point and leave them in no doubt that you are the person to solve it.

Check out the intro from our speculative cover letter example:

Cover letter middle part (body)

The middle part of a speculative cover letter should be like a normal cover letter, just with less stress on the fit with the prospective role. Share the accomplishments that you think will be most relevant to whatever you would like to do in the future and signpost why you would be a great recruit. Personality is still an important part of the letter, but it takes second place to showing that your experience fits.

Quantifying your case with figures is essential in any speculative cover letter. Lofty words are one thing, but a few impactful figures can really set a hiring manager’s pulse racing. Only include figures that can be directly attributed to your contribution — there may be some awkward interview conversations otherwise. Then jump into full-on sales mode by suggesting what you think you might be able to achieve with your new employer. Be as specific as possible. You need to give them something juicy to contemplate or they will get back to their day job.

A speculative cover letter gives you the chance to stand out with the language that you use. Start your bullets with unique action verbs. Use short and powerful sentences that hint at much more to come in the interview. Sprinkle the cover letter with hints of humility and hope whilst at the same time being firm in your conviction that you can do the job.

The middle part of this speculative cover letter shows the way forward:

How to close a speculative cover letter (conclusion and sign-off)

The closing of a speculative cover letter needs to end on one last solid argument to ask for a full CV and details of when you can have a chat. While normal cover letters will end with a hope of an interview, avoid such sentiment in this cover letter. Sell yourself until the very last word. Sometimes, you only get one chance. 

It might be a good idea to include a link to your LinkedIn profile at the close of a speculative cover letter. A CV might seem like the obvious next step, but with LinkedIn a hiring manager has the option of connecting with you or following you. If they do so, you have another chance to get in touch with them and advance your candidature.

If you do get a bite after a persuasive close, you then have the chance to send over another message with your CV and more details. A confident close that enquires about next steps should not be omitted. Back yourself. Hiring managers will come back for more.

Check out an example speculative cover letter conclusion:

Basic mistakes in a speculative cover letter (and how to avoid them)

The speculative cover letter will be carefully analysed for any sign of weakness. The smallest mistake might call into question to quality of the application, so be careful to check for the following:

Let’s be honest, any hiring manager will start off feeling slightly resentful that they are spending their time on this unexpected task, so don’t give them any reason to feel more disgruntled. If your content is compelling, they will soon be on your side. Any mistakes in a speculative cover letter will make their journey towards this conclusion a little tougher.

Key takeaways

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Cover and speculative letters

​writing a cover letter.

A cover letter should draw together all the facts in your CV and communicate your enthusiasm for the position. The letter must be well presented and produced on plain paper using black ink as this produces a clear photocopy. Ideally the letter should be typed but above all the letter should be brief and concise.

Your cover letter should be: 

Once you have written your cover letter, don't simply rely on spell check to check it for you - ask at least one person to read it through, before sending it off.

Writing a speculative letter

When writing a letter to enquire about possible vacancies (known as a speculative letter), the same rules apply as above. You will also need to:

Be sure to follow up on your speculative letter, around one week later, with a phone call or email to check that the relevant person has received it. Ask whether they would meet with you to discuss future job opportunities and ways of gaining work or further experience in this area.

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How To Write A Speculative Cover Letter With Template

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Wondering how to write a speculative cover letter?

A speculative CV with an accompanying cover letter is a way of connecting with employers when they’re not advertising vacancies.

Speculative applications can have great results, and can also be an effective way of  getting internships or work placements .

Lots of positions are filled without ever being advertised, so a speculative letter could be your way in.

Here’s how to write a speculative cover letter that strikes the right tone and helps you get your foot in the door.

We’ve also written a speculative cover letter template to show how to format and write your letter – this can be found at the bottom of the blog.

Start by researching thoroughly

Once you’ve found an organisation you’d like to work for, the first thing to do is  research it thoroughly .

Find out everything you can about the organisation, its staff and the wider industry it operates in.

Most of the information you’ll need will be readily available from online sources, including:

The more knowledge you can arm yourself with, the better you’ll be able to work out how your skills, experience and interests could benefit the organisation, and how you’ll be the perfect fit for the company.

And remember, when writing a speculative cover letter, accuracy is key.

Misspelling the name of the organisation, its products or services or the addressee (ultimately the decision maker) could spell disaster for your speculative letter.

Know who you’re talking to

Research the organisation’s staff list carefully to find out who to address your letter to. This may be:

It’s absolutely crucial that you address the letter to a specific person. ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ or ‘To whom it may concern’ won’t score you any points, especially if they have their name in their email address.

Mention early on or at the end of the letter that you’ve attached your CV to the email, to encourage the reader to look at this after the cover letter.

Strike the right tone

It can be hard to judge how to write a speculative cover letter and what tone to use. In our opinion, it’s best to opt for a formal tone. You don’t know the person, so don’t be over-familiar.

Open with ‘Dear [person’s name]’, and avoid any informal chit-chat like ‘I hope you had a good weekend’. Keep your tone friendly but professional throughout, and close with ‘Yours sincerely’.

speculative letter and cover letter


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Don’t apologise

You might think sending a speculative CV and cover letter will come across as pushy or presumptuous – but hiring managers are unlikely to see it that way.

Don’t be tempted to start with something apologetic like ‘I hope you don’t mind me contacting you unsolicited’.

There’s no need to apologise – a speculative application is evidence that you’re  enthusiastic and proactive , rather than arrogant.

Get straight to the point

If you’re wondering about how to start a speculative cover letter, our top tip would be: get to the point!

Hiring managers are busy – so don’t waste their time. Too many speculative cover letters suffer from long, repetitive introductions,  clichéd language  and wordy explanations that are unlikely to be read.

Cut to the chase straight away. Say why you’re writing, and demonstrate how you can benefit the organisation with a few  key highlights from your CV .

Get that cover letter written by us!

Cover letter, format your cover letter appropriately.

A formally laid out cover letter is likely to have a better chance of succeeding. Put your name, address and the date on the right at the top, and the addressee’s details on the left starting on the line below.

The purpose of a speculative job letter is to get the hiring manager to look at your CV – so give them a reason to read it with three or four solid points straight off the bat.

You could format these as bullet points to make them even easier to read.

Keep paragraphs short and snappy and try to keep your letter to around half a page, and definitely no more than one page.

Focus on the employer

When writing a speculative cover letter, you should say as much (if not more) about the organisation you’re writing to as you do about yourself.

Try not to start every paragraph with ‘I’. You want to communicate what you can do for the organisation and why you want to work there, so try to evidence the knowledge you gained through your research.

What challenges and opportunities is the organisation facing? Try to focus on the person reading the letter and their priorities, and give a few examples from your experience that show how you can meet them.

Avoid the hard sell. Some sources recommend ending with something like ‘I’ll be calling you next week to schedule an interview’, but this pushy approach may backfire.

End simply by expressing that you’d like the opportunity to continue the conversation. Specify how the hiring manager can contact you (by phone or at your email address, for example) followed by ‘I look forward to hearing from you’.

As always, check, check and check again for typos and grammatical errors. Get someone else to proofread it for you if you can.

If you don’t hear anything within a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to  follow up by email or phone . This will show perseverance and a real desire to work for the organisation.

It’s also an opportunity to ask for constructive feedback if you weren’t successful.

Speculative cover letter template

Below is an annotated speculative cover letter example to give you an idea of how to format and write the letter:

How to write a speculative cover letter: a summary

A speculative application can be a great way to engage with an organisation, and could get you one step closer to your dream job.

Even if the employer doesn’t have your perfect role open immediately, it could put you on their radar as someone to contact in the future.

We hope our guide has given you a better idea of how to write a speculative cover letter.

Remember, a cover letter acts as the bait to get hiring managers to read your CV – so make sure your accompanying CV is as good as it can be!

Need help crafting a kickass CV? Our tailor-made CVs showcase your best bits and set you head and shoulders above the job market competition.  Find out more .

Want to know more about how to write a good standard cover letter? Go back to basics with  these principles.  You can see some  examples of cover letters here , including a speculative cover letter example.

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Speculative Cover Letter

Once you have identified the company or person who you are going to target, you will need to send a copy of a targeted CV and cover letter written for a speculative approach.

The cover letter should be set out formally and include company address, date, your contact details, etc., and should be no longer than one side of A4.

What to consider and include:

Careers Service, The University of Manchester

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Do speculative cover letters work?

When writing your cover letter: be concise, do your research and avoid the hard-sell to achieve job success Three excellent cover letter examples Sell yourself: a cover letter guide for beginners

Speculative letters (by post or email) might work better than you think. They're a recognised way of communicating with employers who are not currently advertising for staff. If your message finds a decision-maker who has a problem or an opportunity, you could be in a meeting pretty fast. But consider if a letter out of the blue is the best method of connecting with an organisation – it's often more effective to get a warm introduction through existing contacts.

Be concise and to the point

Many speculative letters are pure time wasters. They make little attempt to understand the needs of the organisation, and are instantly considered as junk mail. Too many letters use dull, predictable wording, over-long introductions and explanations, and communicate too much using long paragraphs which will never be read. Get to the point quickly. Show, rather than tell, how you have the skills and know-how necessary to do the job – provide evidence in bullet point form. Get across key evidence from your CV, but avoid repeating exact phrases.

The first mistake is to believe that it sells you into a meeting. It won't. If you're lucky, it will simply persuade the reader to consider your CV. The only function of a cover letter is to get your CV read, and to get you a meeting. If your CV is a short book, your cover letter is like the blurb on the cover – it gives a reason to start reading. It should therefore flag up three or four strong items in your CV worth considering.

The second mistake is to rehearse every reason why you might get hired. Some candidates send in cover letters more than two pages long, crammed with information. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the longer you argue your case, the better your chances of an interview - the opposite is almost certainly the case. If you can't write a coherent one-page letter, what does that say about your communication skills in the job?

The employer is the focus not you

Try not to begin every sentence and paragraph with "I". Focus on the reader of the letter and his or her perspective. Your letter should say more about the employer than it says about you. State why you are attracted to the organisation and what you like about it. Research. Refer to the problems, opportunities and headaches your target company is facing. Remember Swot as a prompt: what can you say about a company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? Try to work out the top half dozen or so priorities in the employer's mind and offer five or six matching pieces of evidence in your cover letter.

Why are you a good match?

Refer the reader to your enclosed CV, stating briefly why you are a good match as a candidate. Don't apologise in your letter for the lack of industry experience or your lack of a specific qualification. Select a range of achievements relevant to the needs of the organisation, and set out your top three or four as bullet points in the letter. This short burst of information is the element most likely to get you into a meeting.

Avoid the hard-sell

In the UK job market, selling yourself too hard can be counter-productive. Avoid the pushy assumptive close you see in some recommended formats: "I'll be calling you on Monday to discuss my application further", or "I will expect your call". Simply end your message stating that you'd like the opportunity to take the conversation further – they'll respond fast enough if they're interested.

Accuracy and research

Ensure complete accuracy in names and job titles, as well as the name of the organisation itself (plus the names of products or services). Cut and paste from previous letters with great care. Print a letter off and proof read it carefully before emailing.

Don't put anything in your cover letter which gives the reader an excuse to put it aside. For example, apologising for your lack of a particular requirement, mentioning your age, or referring to negative aspects such as why you left your last job.

Research the staff list of the organisation carefully to ensure your letter is read by the right decision maker. It pays to make some calls to anyone who knows anything about the organisation so you can find out who to approach and what you might say which makes your approach stand out. Remember that the organisation will be researching you in return – make sure your LinkedIn page is up to date and tells the story you want to get across. Telephone to check that your letter has been received by the intended recipient. If you get connected, ask one relevant question, and mention one reason why you might be able to help the employer, then suggest a meeting.

John Lees is a career coach, founder of John Lees Associates and author of Knockout CV .

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional . To get more content and advice like this direct to your inbox, sign up for our weekly update and careers ebook .

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