Why Are Speculative Job Approaches Important and Do They Work? Part 1 

A Simple Story About How to Use a Speculative Approach to Transition Into a New Role 
Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

Do Speculative Job Applications Actually Work? The Answer Is a Resounding YES.

However, I have no intention of misleading you here. It may involve sending out hundreds of letters before it brings about one conversation that leads to an interview and on to securing a role.

In some professions, speculative approached are actually the only way things happen as quite often jobs don’t get advertised – the old hidden job market!

But are speculative approaches acceptable across all industries/sectors? 

Well, I happen to think so. 

To prove my point, I’ll tell you a story about Sean, who designed his speculative approach campaign to target the Public Sector and why this is important.

Sean decided he wanted to move into the Public Sector. He wasn’t just looking for another job within the Public Sector. He actually wanted to transition from the Private Sector — no mean feat by any standards, considering the Public Sector promote equality and fairness in their job selection process. As a result, all positions will be advertised.

Sean speculatively approached a Government department for a job, not an advertised position but an enquiry, letting them know why he thought his skills, experience, and attributes gained working in the Private Sector would be valuable to that department.

Sean’s approach didn’t receive an immediate response, and he went about his business. Then out of the blue and several months later, he got a call to say that while they don’t usually accept speculative approaches, his letter and CV had impressed them, and they now had a position they considered he would be suitable for and invited him to apply.

His application was successful, and he was invited along for an interview.

This was a stringent interview process, as you would expect in the Public Sector.

Long story short, having been put through his paces, Sean secured the role.

Therein lies my case that speculatively approaching organisations for work is important. It can help you get onto their radar to be considered for a position when a role becomes available. And so, yes, speculative job approaches do actually work.

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories, I share my own experiences, and with permission, stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.

Tap here to read: Do Speculative Job Approaches Actually Work? (Part 2)

Sean’s story along with the assignment that helped him craft his speculative approach and the letter he wrote that started him on his path to reinventing himself was featured in my book How To Successfully Invent and Reinvent Yourself from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.



This story was originally published on 13/6/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you 

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.


School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Plan Effectively: Professionally and Personally  

How To Be Autonomous in Your Development and Growth 

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively  

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Founder of School of WorkLife, Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.