Job Application Advice: Speculative Job Applications

Online recruitment has grown rapidly over the years and has proved advantageous to both recruiters and applicants. A good, tailored online application requires the same advance preparation as a targeted CV or a hard copy form, but may be harder to check.


A registration password will allow you to save and return to online forms so that they can be completed and submitted when you are ready.

You may be required to undertake a timed test online. Make sure that you are focused and prepared. Go to psychometric tests if you want to take practice tests online.


Formality in your application is still a must. Make time to check it through and ensure it is effectively targeted to the position and employer.

It is often possible to copy the questions into MS Word. Plan your answers in a Word document (or similar) and get them checked for content and style by a careers adviser in advance.

Sometimes the online form will restrict you to a particular font style and size. Be aware of this when you draft your answer.


Grammar and spelling again! Even if you cannot access spell-check facilities on the site, you can download the text into MS Word and spell-check it there.

Personality profiling

Some application forms include multiple-choice questions about your likes, strengths and preferences. These can be used to identify whether your preferred style of working fits with the culture of the organisation and the skills they require. Be as honest as possible – there may be repeats of questions to ensure your answers are consistent and some questions that test whether you are trying to make a favourable impression.

Speculative job applications

  • Identify employers who recruit graduates with your degree; who might be interested in your dissertation; or who you feel suit your skills.
  • Research is the key to speculative applications and the internet is a good place to start. Learn about the company, their organisational structure, trends in your field, competitors, and any areas of growth or change.
  • Find out the name of the person you need to send your CV to and address it for their attention.
  • Ensure that your letter states clearly what you are looking for – a job, work experience, work shadowing, project work – along with what skills and experience you have to offer. Include the dates when you are available and whether you require payment or are primarily looking for an opportunity to gain experience. Joining a company as an intern, summer temp or for work experience can be a useful way to open doors, network and gain references.
  • Follow up your letter with a telephone call to show your genuine interest and see if you can arrange a meeting to discuss job possibilities, review your application, or gain further contacts.
  • Create a network of influential people. To be most effective, combine contacts from all sources, such as your personal and professional networks. Ask people, including lecturers or past students, for contacts who may know of opportunities in a particular sector.

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