Sep 22 2011 in Featured, Job Search Strategy, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg
Are you giving others the impression that you’re in job search desperation?
Appearing as though you are desperate for a job (especially if you really are desperate) is a sure way to turn off most employers and recruiters.
Hiring managers, recruiters, and HR reps can smell desperation a mile away and are repelled by the scent of desperate measures.
Why do employers find desperation so distasteful?
Remember that employers see an average 1,000 applicants for each job advertised today – so they have a wide universe of candidates to choose from. Human beings tend to want what we can’t have, much more than what is easily attainable – and this applies to hiring decisions. Employers are far more likely to want a candidate who is in high demand, over a candidate who is desperate for a job (exception: some employers “bottom feed”, looking for workers who will accept below-market wages due to desperation).
Of course you don’t intend to appear desperate. But many commonly used job search tactics brand you as a desperate job seeker and you probably don’t realize it.
Here are 10 ways you may unknowingly brand yourself as desperate:
Email your resume to everyone on your contact list: While this is a common suggestion made by career advisers, emailing your resume to everyone you know makes you look desperate. Even worse, due to employee referral bonus programs, nearly all resumes you send to your contact list end up in the same place as if you applied online
Create a resume that says you can do anything: Resumes that tell the reader you can do anything aren’t effective today. While these types of resumes had limited effectiveness during candidate shortages, they are no longer effective as Applicant Tracking Systems increase ability to micro-target skill sets and due to current job shortages. The “I can do anything resume” might work when employers are desperate for candidates, but when they aren’t in desperation mode … it’s you that looks desperate.
Ask “Do you know anyone that’s hiring for ____”: This is another common tactic that may have been more effective in times of candidate shortages, but ineffective today. Worse, you make yourself look like you are so desperate that you’ll work for any employer. Not only do you risk alienating your contacts, but you brand yourself as desperate.
Brand yourself as a commodity: Your resume, your Linkedin profile, your online/social media presence, Google, and what you say all create your personal brand. When you manage your personal brand well, you create a first impression that helps your job search. Unfortunately, most of you either don’t manage your personal brand or are ineffective in managing your brand. Most resumes I see brand you as a commodity – someone who is merely qualified to do the job (along with hundreds of other applicants who are qualified).
When you have thousands of competitors on average for each job, being qualified isn’t enough. Worse, when employers decide between many candidates who all look the same (like commodities) they tend to focus on the less important things that create differences (things like age, employment status, gaps, “bounciness”, geography) as reasons to disqualify qualified candidates. If you’re experiencing problems with any of these areas, one part of the solution is to stop branding yourself as a commodity.
Adopt the attitude “I’ll do anything, just give me a chance”: Few things scream desperation than when you adopt this attitude. It shows desperation because it’s a desperate belief at its core. Exception: If you’re still in school and are looking for your first part time job, this can be ok – because you really don’t know how you can help solve employer problems yet.
Tell everyone you meet “I’m looking for a job”: Here’s still more commonly given job search advice that doesn’t work in today’s market. This worked when there was much low hanging fruit, waiting to be picked – because many of your friends knew multiple hiring managers looking to add staff. Today, that low hanging fruit has been dried up or picked, so the odds work against you. Instead, you just look desperate.
Asking your company contacts about job openings: Since today’s companies list job openings on company websites and on job boards, asking your contact inside a company if they know of any job openings, wastes their time, wastes an opportunity for you to learn more about that company’s problems, and makes you just look plain desperate.
Focus on all the things you “could do” instead of what you do better than anyone else: There are many things you could do, but your next employer really doesn’t care about all hundreds of things you could do – they care about the one or two things you do better than anyone else. Talking about all the things you could do makes you look like you’re willing to do anything … and therefore desperate.
Call back/email to check on your status or “just to follow up”: What a great way to waste a hiring manager’s/recruiter’s/HR rep’s time, because you aren’t adding any value to them with your status call or email. If they are interested, they’ll call – otherwise, expect a don’t call us, we’ll call you attitude. When you attempt follow-up, you risk looking desperate. Even worse, when you attempt multiple follow-up calls, you look like a crazy stalker.
Apply to 10 jobs at the same company: Just because you are qualified for 10 jobs at the same company, doesn’t mean you should apply to all of them … unless you want to look desperate. Instead, apply to the one or two where you can make the case that you are the superior candidate, and ignore the ones where you are merely qualified. HR reps and recruiters can see all the jobs you’ve applied to at their company through their Applicant Tracking Systems – what would you think about a candidate who applied for 10? Desperate – that’s what you’d think.
Candidates: Be honest with yourself – how many of these desperate measures are you using in your job search?
Hiring Managers/Recruiters/HR reps – Any other examples of candidate desperation? Please share stories and what you think when you see candidates acting desperately.