How to get work experience using speculative applications

Landing work experience can be done by applying to companies directly - you just have to know the best methods of approaching. Here's our top tips.
Kim Connor Streich
Kim Connor Streich

This post was written by an external contributor.  Jacob Phillips believes that the best way to get work experience is to reach out yourself, and here are the best ways to do it. 

For many industries work experience opportunities seem severely limited. In addition, many available opportunities are unpaid, with the majority inconveniently located somewhere in the centre of London. However, often companies have more available opportunities than careers websites may show.

Although speculative applications can vary in style depending on where you are applying to, making applications directly can work effectively for whoever you are applying to, be it a small start-up company or a large multinational. Here’s some advice on how to effectively use speculative applications.

Email, Email, Email

work experience

One thing which is important to note when making speculative applications is that you will often not receive any responses or will face a lot of rejections. However, this is okay. It’s worth remembering that this happens to everyone.

That being said often when you make a speculative application you may be the only person approaching a company. That may be a huge factor in improving your chances of landing an opportunity. Just remember to not be disheartened! It’s okay to email someone again if they haven’t responded to you after a week or so. They may have simply missed your email.

Keep it simple

work experience

It’s worth mentioning that it’s important to keep things simple while making speculative applications. No one is going to want to read your life history if you are applying for work experience.

Instead try and explain who you are and why you want to work for someone in five lines. That way they will be able to easily understand what you want to get out of some experience with them and they can access whether they can actually help you or not. The more accurate you are the better.


work experience

Meeting people who work in your desired industry can often provide you with insights into gaining work experience. Plus you’ll gain a real understanding of what a job will be like and the challenges that may accompany it.

One great thing to do is to email people who work in the sector and ask if you can meet for a cup of coffee. While many industry professionals may be too busy to have you in for work experience, they may offer you some advice about what you can do to develop your skills and may suggest other opportunities elsewhere which you may not have previously thought of.

Plus, people are more likely to remember you if they have a personal connection with you. Your chance of getting experience or work will be much greater if you are more than just a name at the bottom of an email.

Don’t always email the biggest names out there

work experience

Although it’s great to contact industry professionals, be realistic about who you are going to get a reply from. For example, if you are interested in working in the media try messaging reporters as opposed to editors.

Often editors are swamped by thousands of emails per day. Even if they want to help you, they are less likely to have the time. Instead try and message people who may have more available time. They will be able to provide advice or pass your details on to the appropriate person.

Try to be of as much use as possible

work experience

Often taking someone on as work experience can be a burden on a professional. They’ll need to see if you can be trusted to complete a job, will have to set you things to do or have them follow you around shadowing them.

In order to avoid seeming like a hassle, you’ll need to demonstrate how you can make an active contribution to a workplace in your application. If you have any previous experience make sure you clearly state it. Explain how these skills can be applied and show that you know what you are talking about.,

If you have done your research and understand what a specific role may entail, then your chances of making a successful application are much more likely.

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