Before we dive in, here’s a quick explanation of exactly what a spec letter is. Short for speculative letter, it’s something that you send to an employer who has not advertised a job that you’re interested in. But, rather then letting that put you off, you send them a spec letter to see if they have anything that could be suitable for you anyway. So here’s my top tips including what to include, how long it should be and who to send it to.
Find a named person to send it to
Rather than a letter, it’s far more likely that your approach will be through email. But regardless of method, always try to find the name of person to address it to. Avoid writing ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Look on the company website or LinkedIn page to find names of relevant people or, if all else fails, call them up and ask them who the best person to address it to is. It’s not always the HR or personnel department either, so don’t plump for that option. It could be that the manager of a department is considering advertising a vacancy but hasn’t yet or they know of something coming up that the HR department don’t know about yet. The HR/personnel dept may just say that there isn’t anything at the moment whereas the manager may well say yes.
Keep it brief and to the point
Most managers are busy people so do them a favour and don’t write an essay. A few brief paragraphs are usually all you need. Chances are they’re unlikely to read a lengthy letter or email at all or will put it aside to look at later and may then forget.
Be specific about what type of job you’re interested in
Hedging your bets and saying you’re interested in anything at the company doesn’t help anyone. Identify, by looking on their website and LinkedIn profiles, the types of roles they generally employ people to do and state in your letter which one(s) you’re interested in. You don’t have to stick to just one, but you do need to be specific.
Communication is a two-way process
Don’t just tell them what you want, make sure you tell them what you can offer too. Let them know your unique selling points including your skills, experience and qualifications. You don’t need to tell them everything right away, just a few highlights that are relevant to the role you’d like to do.
Include your CV
If the employer is interested, they’ll want to know some more about you. Save them from having to do their own research by providing this for them. Attach your CV and make sure to include on this your profile addresses for LinkedIn, and The Dots if you’re a creative.
Let them know why it is them you have contacted by telling them what you like about them. It could be that their values match yours, you know current or past employees who have spoken highly of them or, you’ve seen their work and were impressed by it. Flattery will get you a long way.
Finish on a positive
Acknowledge that they are busy and thank them for taking the time to read your spec letter and CV. Let then know that you’ll be looking forward to hearing from them. If you don’t hear from them after about 2 weeks, it’s worth following this up with a second email or a phone call. It doesn’t hurt to let them know you’re keen.
If you're struggling to write a cover letter, or would like a second pair of eyes to check over a letter before you send it, please get in touch. Either, email me at queercareers.com or, check out the services page to see how I can help you.