Job hunting is sort of like dating: you’re going to put yourself out there and you’re going to meet lots of different people, and some of them are going to like you… but if they catch you looking desperate, you’re going to turn them off instead of on.
Liz Ryan, Founder and CEO of the Human Workplace, a think tank, coaching and consulting business, says “The fears we feel during a job search make us much less effective job-seekers. We can’t think straight with our fearful, critical brain constantly telling us ‘Get the job offer, no matter what!’ …We fall into fear and try to please our way into a job… I see this phenomenon in action every day. When we are in fear we don’t realize that we are sending out signals. The signals say ‘Do whatever you want to do to me – I’ll put up with it!’”
And that, my friends, is what desperation looks like. Here are 5 ways you may be branding yourself as a desperate job seeker without even realizing it.
- Your attitude screams “I’ll do anything you ask, just give me a chance!” You may think you’re showing enthusiasm, but on the contrary, you’re broadcasting desperation. While you should show eagerness and motivation, you should not be willing to grovel and beg for a chance, any chance, to do whatever a hiring manager might ask of you.
- You apply to 10 different jobs at the same company. Even if you actually are qualified for all 10 jobs (which is highly unlikely), applying to all of them makes you look desperate. A far more logical approach would be to apply to the one or two jobs for which you can demonstrate that you’re a superior candidate, and ignore those for which you’re merely qualified. Recruiters can see all the jobs you’ve applied to at their company, and seeing 10 would put you right into the “Desperate” pile.
- Your résumé implies you can do everything under the sun. Um, hello, no you can’t, and recruiters know it. A résumé that over-promises is dangerous: imagine you get hired as a senior programmer when really, all you know about programming is how to use WordPress! It’s okay to “stretch the truth” to make your résumé stand out, but telling HR managers you’re an expert when you’re a beginner is the definition of desperation.
- You email your résumé to everyone: every company that’s hiring, every person on your contact list, every job site, hoping to get a few nibbles. While this might be the result, it’s also what’s called the “Spray and pray” tactic, and it’s a desperate one. Instead of only applying for the roles that are right for you, you’re wasting time applying for everything from CEO to janitor. Remember, recruiters and employers will respect your integrity and remember you for the next opportunity if you only apply for jobs that are relevant to your skills and preferences.
- After sending your résumé, you call back or email to check on your status. While it’s natural (and important) to call or email after you’ve had an interview, you aren’t doing yourself (or the recruiter) any favors by calling or emailing. If the person is interested, they’ll get in touch with you. When you beg for news about your status, you seem desperate.
As Liz Ryan says when coaching job hunters, “Fear is powerful, but you are even more powerful and you can shift the energy in your job search. You can remember that you are not a sheep but a talented, vibrant person with experiences and gifts to share with the lucky organization that brings you onto its team.”