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Speculative Cover Letter Example

When you are about to send a speculative cover letter, you might hesitate more than usual. Here’s how you write the best speculative job search sales pitch possible.
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Speculative Cover Letter Example
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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:

  • How to choose the right format for a speculative cover letter
  • How to compose the introduction, middle part, and conclusion
  • How to argue your case to offer you an interview
  • Mistakes to avoid that would put any hiring manager off.

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:

  • The cover letter header
  • The greeting / salutation
  • The cover letter intro
  • The middle paragraphs (body of the letter)
  • The ending paragraph of your cover letter (conclusion and call-to-action)

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:

Adaptable cover letter example

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

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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:

Adaptable cover letter greeting and introduction example

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.

Copied!

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:

Adaptable cover letter body example

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.

Copied!

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:

Adaptable cover letter conclusion example

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

Copied!

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:

  • Spelling and grammar mistakes: How you write your speculative cover letter will be judged. Use an online grammar checker to pick up on any errors and ask a friend to proofread the letter to make sure that it sounds like you.
  • Keep the look professional. Choose a cover letter template that is neutral and does not detract from your message. While the speculative cover letter will likely initially be read in an email, don’t go overboard with the design of the cover letter.
  • Don’t be too presumptuous: It is all too easy to hint that the employer should offer you an opportunity. There are countless reasons why that might not be the case. Write the letter with a hopeful and optimistic tone — but don’t come across as arrogant.

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

  1. Don’t stop selling your story — right up to the final word. You only get one shot.
  2. Share how you will fit in with the employer culture (not a specific job).
  3. Paint a picture of a future with you contributing standout value.
  4. Be hopeful. Give them an option to connect if there is no current opening.
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