Needle in a haystack

If the jobs you're searching for just don't seem to be coming up, you could try making a speculative approach. That means contacting a company to ask them about opportunities, rather than wait for them to advertise job vacancies.

Show an employer that you have a lot to offer, and they might find a role for you - or at least keep you in mind for the future.

It's all about how you approach the company. Here are some tips which might help.

Research the company

Don’t send the exact same cover letter to lots of employers. Research each business and show the employer that you've made the effort to find out about them in your letter. Explain why you'd love to work for them.

Contact the right person

‘Create your own contacts by using networking sites like LinkedIn’ Owen Davies, Careers Adviser

If you know which part of the business you'd like to work in, try to track down someone senior in that department. Have a look on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter for employees. Or, you could call the company and ask to speak to the appropriate person. If you're nervous about making the call, check out our tips.

You don't want to stop at the HR department, as they normally only deal with current vacancies.

Make an impact

With an advertised vacancy you just need to tick the right boxes, but with a speculative approach you need to wow the person. Show your personality in your cover letter. Talk about the skills and strengths you can offer and how you think they might fit in with the company.

Keep it snappy

Since the company is not officially recruiting, they don't have to read your letter. So if you keep it short and to the point, they're more likely to look it over. One page for your cover letter, and no more than two pages for your CV. It might help to ask someone to check over you CV – for example a careers adviser, teacher or lecturer – before you send it in.

Keep your options open

Ask about roles you think you'd be suited to, but let them know you’re open to other possibilities. If you’re willing to do work experience or an internship, say so.

Vary your approach

Don’t just send by post – email, phone and try to contact the right people via social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. You'll find more tips in job hunting with social media.

Follow up

Let them know you'll follow up with a phone call in a week’s time - and make sure you do it. If there aren't any opportunities with the person you've written to, ask them to forward your details to anyone else in the company who might be interested.

What next?

Make sure your CV is up to scratch using My CV.