How to Spot a Great Speculative job Application

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young man looking through the magnifying glassMany companies have built strong enough brands that they receive speculative applications all year round, even at times when they are not advertising jobs.

These applications can often gather dust, because let’s face it, when you are not currently recruiting, speculative applications often slip down the priority list, because they aren’t really actionable at the time.

But, on some occasions a premium speculative application may come in where it may be worth at least interviewing the candidate and putting the person on stand-by and/or creating a role for him or her. However, what are the signs that you’ve received a great speculative application worth moving mountains for? Below, I have outlined five:

1. Writes to a named person. No speculative applicants worth their salt will start their speculative letter with a mundane, “Dear Sir/Madam.” The most engaged speculative applicants will have done their research and will specifically write to a named person deemed most relevant to their application.

2. Has a named referral. I will admit that this is not always possible to achieve, but the most engaged speculative applicants will have tracked down a contact within your business through their network or by attending an industry event and engaging with one of your representatives. They will then name them in the cover letter.

3. Does something a little different. The most engaged type of speculative applicant will do something a little different from the norm to catch your attention, which might be an infographic resume tailored to meet your current priorities, a video resume, or a new product suggestion, to name a few examples.

4. Knows your key personalities and culture. The most engaged applicants will demonstrate that they know who your key personalities are and that they understand your culture and how they will blend and add to this environment.

5. Links their skills to your priorities. This is one of the most important signs. Most speculative applicants will do some superficial research on your organization and will be able to tell you basic things like where your head office is or how many employees you have worldwide. These applicants are uninteresting.

The most engaged and exciting speculative applicants will have conducted detailed research of your business akin to a SWOT analysis of your business and the department they are applying to. They’ll then be able to clearly demonstrate how the key skills that they possess are able to help your business to achieve its key goals and priorities.

For, example let’s say you are planning to move into a new international market, say France. They’d be able to show how their fluency in French, and perhaps their two years experience selling similar products into the French market, could help/accelerate your expansion plans. Or perhaps, a product line may be failing against the competition and they may be able to show their specific skills in a new technology that could help you to enhance your product.

The best speculative applicants will understand your business priorities and will be able to link their skills to these priorities.

So, if you do find a speculative application that meets all these criteria, the person is likely to be well worth an interview.

Read more in Selection

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.