The process of sending spontaneous applications can be a daunting challenge, as an unsolicited application differs significantly from the conventional method of targeting a specific position.
When you are not applying for a vacant role with clearly defined specifications, you need to adapt your application strategy accordingly. Preparation is a critical component of the application process, as is owning your career narrative and speaking about it confidently without skipping a beat!
Loredana Leonte, recruitment lead at Metyis, shares these best practices in optimising your spontaneous applications so that your unique qualities can stand out.
1. Adapt your application/cover letter to address the company’s needs and how you envision your skillset adding value
Before you submit a spontaneous application, you need to determine if the company’s mission and goals matches your aspirations and skills at this stage in your career. Be aware that precise objectives will differ between companies. Researching the target company’s mission, needs, and culture is paramount.
This information can be found on a company’s “about us” page or their LinkedIn and Instagram. Follow your target companies on social media and examine the content that they put out to learn about their ongoing projects, values, and people. This information should guide the presentation of your CV, cover letter, and your own LinkedIn profile so that when a hiring manager examines them they see someone who would both fit in and be an enriching addition to the company.
It is okay if you don’t have previous work experience, but emphasise motivation, theoretical & academic knowledge, university projects, volunteer work, and interests. If you are applying for your first full-time role, you need to position yourself as malleable, as a fast-learner, and as someone whose values align with those of the organisation.
You should search for testimonials from current and past employees to see what they have to say. Glassdoor has a gold mine of these.
Bonus tip: try not to oversell yourself. Never explicitly state that you have a specific skill if it can be easily disproven or contested because this can backfire and damage your credibility!
2. Highlight what you have to offer
When sending an unprompted application directly to an employer, make sure to highlight your core competencies!
Do you think you have the valuable skills to make a difference? Great. Since you are not applying for a specific position, recruiters need to identify your skills and what sets you apart from other candidates at a glance. You need to be clear about why someone would want to meet you. What can you bring to the company? Write down your key strengths and expertise, and find examples where you add value. You can start by answering these questions:
What is your expertise?
What have you achieved in academia or for other companies by using your key strengths?
What samples of work can you show to illustrate your achievements?
3. Get clarity about your career goals and define them
Another thing to think about when submitting a spontaneous application is to define your career goals. You need to be clear about the positions you envision yourself in. Be able to vocalise how the company’s mission or operations resonate with you at this stage in your career.
Most important of all, you need to look inside yourself and contemplate what would make you happy and professionally fulfilled. Do you want a mentor to guide you or are your ambitions in leadership? Would you prefer to work remotely, on-location, or in a blended capacity? Do you crave feedback and hands-on support, or would you benefit from freedom and agency? Perhaps a balance of both.
Your own self-understanding will empower the recruiter or employer to review your application and understand exactly what it is that you are pursuing. By clearly articulating your aspirations, you can better help recruiters assess if there is a role or an emerging need within their organisation that aligns with your profile!
4. Follow up on your spontaneous application with the recruiter
When you send an unsolicited application for a job, it may be a good idea to follow up with the recruiter to be sure that they have received your application.
Following up on your spontaneous application helps show your ambition and motivation to work for the company.
Be certain to use LinkedIn to connect with the recruiter and any employees that you corresponded with during the application process. Having a sharp LinkedIn profile is an invaluable asset, and you never know which connections could resurface with an opportunity for you down the road. Connecting with interviewers keeps your profile fresh in their minds.
Once you have decided to do the follow-up, be concise, direct and confident in your words. However, you don’t want to be perceived as intrusive and burdensome by the employer. Be careful with your insistency, especially if you are calling the recruiter over the phone. You want to play it cool so that you don’t appear desperate because that is alienating.
In summary, when sending a practical unsolicited application, make sure to highlight your skills, career goals and motivations concisely in your CV, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. Be yourself, have your career goals clearly defined and don't forget to follow up on your application.