Tips on speculating to accumulate

When sending out CVs speculatively, do the following:

  • Ring the organisation, and, by some means, get the name of the key person. If you are put through to the person in question, tell them briefly who you are and what you are about, and undertake to send on a follow-up letter. Don’t wait too long on the phone, and don’t ask for any guarantees. Always give that person an ‘out.’
  • Send in a personalised, but professional, letter to that person. Tailor the letter to speak to the job in question – put in some relevant skill that you have that they might be looking for. Tell them you will follow up with a phone call.
  • Leave it approximately two weeks, if you don’t hear from them.
  • Ring back, and ask them if they got the letter. Again, don’t ask for too much – ask them to keep you in mind, say you are available to do a day here and there if they are stuck, and ask them to bear you in mind.
  • If nothing comes of that, perhaps drop another hand-written note to that person a month or so later – saying “just letting you know that if you are looking for anyone, even for holiday relief or temporary cover, I’m still available.” Add your name, phone number and CV again.

Don’t become a nuisance, but don’t give up too easily. There will come a time to give up, but in our experience most people don’t do any follow-up after sending out a CV speculatively. It’s important that you do because in many companies, particularly smaller ones, the person who rings on the right day could be lucky.


Staying on the one true path

Q: I’m trained in the area of quality control, and that’s where I would really like to work. But I haven’t had a job of any sort for five months now since I was made redundant from a quality control role. I’ve just been offered an administrative position covering maternity leave in a solicitor’s office. I have a lot of the administrative skills needed for the job, but I’m wondering if it will look bad on my CV that I moved away from quality control into another area – particularly because I want to get back into quality control in the future? (DL, email.)

A: My immediate feeling is that it will look good, rather than bad. It shows that you continued to work when options in your chosen area became limited: you can easily convince a future employer in the quality control sector that this illustrates your enthusiasm for work.

In many cases, what matters more is not the decisions you make in terms of taking up certain jobs, but how you portray those decisions down the line. For example, you could tell future potential employers:

  • “I took the job in the solicitor’s office to ensure I had a job because I dislike being idle”;
  • “I learned a great deal in the solicitor’s office – my attitude is that you learn everywhere you go, and so rather than sitting at home twiddling my thumbs I found that role to be very beneficial”;

If you troop into an interview all sheepish and apologetic for deviating from the one true path of quality control, you won’t impress the employer. So my advice is that this is a positive development, but only if you focus on portraying positively in your CV and future job interviews.

For a free critique of your CV, simply go here: Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Limerick, Dublin, and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. More: