Organising your campaign
A well-organised campaign will help you increase your chances of getting a job interview or avoid a speculative application being ignored and/or lost among many others. Before writing your letter, we recommend you collect the following information:
Select the companies that particularly interest you (depending on their industry, size, projects) and tailor your application letter according to the information you have gathered. This way any potential employer is likely to consider your application far more seriously than s/he would a more general letter of introduction.
Identify the right person to contact
Start by identifying the right department/area of the organisation to approach.
Write to a specific person
Address your letter to a named person - never use the salutation "Dear Sir / Madam".
Obtain the manager's name
Be proactive in checking the correct spelling of his/her name. If the organisation is small (with a turnover of less than £5m per year), contact the director or deputy director. Don't simply contact the human resources manager.
Be proactive in finding out information
To help you in your job search, it's worth visiting Job Centres and contacting Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Get in touch with professional job search agencies and study the Kompass directory. Read economic and social media. Ask the companies you're interested in to send you their company brochure or annual report, and visit their website.
Get in touch with lots of businesses
... but only if you're truly interested in working for them. Remember that you will not get an immediate "yes" from anyone you contact. However, for every ten contacts, you may obtain a useful appointment. There are no rules about the number of people you need to contact to get results, but it's reasonable to say that the more speculative letters you send, the greater your chances of success, providing your approaches are well targeted. Also remember that you need to manage the number of contacts you make if you are to follow up with each of them appropriately.
The tone of your speculative letter must be direct, dynamic and persuasive. The first part should spark the reader's interest, and explain why you have contacted this particular organisation and not another. Specify the position you are looking for or suggest the type of role you are interested in. Highlight the value you bring by explaining what you can offer the organisation. Demonstrate how your skills match with their needs and what they do, both now and in the future. Tell them about relevant experience you have and about your skills or training, being careful not to repeat your CV. Finally, ask for a meeting and say you will call him/her in a few days. Remember to close your letter appropriately, and to sign it.
Don't wait for the employer to contact you after sending your speculative application. Make a phone call to discuss your CV and cover letter about a week later. Recognise you may have to make more than one phone call, but this will enable you to show the prospective employer how motivated and interested you are in the organisation. When you do get to speak, try to get an interview to showcase your skills. You can also follow up with an email but this is never as effective.
Use your network of contacts
Do remember that you will make new business contacts as part of your research, and they can help you target relevant organisations.