Few of us would brand ourselves as desperate on purpose. But many job seekers brand themselves as desperate without even knowing it.

Many traditional “tried and true” job search tactics can brand you as desperate today.

Why are tactics that used to be commonly accepted (even appreciated), now considered as desperation moves?

When the job market featured candidate shortages, employers were happy to hear we might be interested to work for their company – during candidate shortages, skilled workers were difficult to find, so you made the hiring manager’s job easier by letting them know of your availability.

Then, in 2007, things changed.

When the job market shifted to job shortages rather than candidate shortages, the very same things we did in our job search that were appreciated by hiring managers … now appears desperate.

Many candidates brand themselves as desperate, just by doing the same things they did in their last job search – but there are other reasons also.

Why do candidates describe themselves as desperate?

  • You don’t realize you’re acting desperate: Few candidates would brand themselves as desperate on purpose. Most candidates who brand themselves as desperate, don’t even realize what they are doing. Some of the ways you might be unknowingly branding yourself as desperate include:
    • Send your resume to your entire contact list.
    • Brand yourself as a commodity.
    • Tell everyone you meet that you’re looking for a job.
    • Ask your contacts and network about job openings at their company (Listed on the company’s website).
    • Call to “just follow up”.
    • Tell employers (on your resume or in interviews) that you can or will do anything.
    • Focus on what you could do, rather than what you do better than anyone else.
    • Apply to more than 3 jobs at the same company or recruiter.
  • You think it will help you: Some candidates confuse flexibility with desperation. Employers love an employee who is willing (and able) to do anything to help. However, hiring managers rarely hire a candidate who states they are willing to do anything, because it comes across as desperate rather than flexible. Hiring managers look for candidates who have already solved the problems they currently face today, with flexibility being a distant third, fourth, or fifth consideration. Worst, it’s really difficult to show flexibility rather than desperation – few candidates can pull this off, without looking desperate.
  • You’re following bad advice: There’s tons of bad job search advice out there. Much of today’s bad job search advice is obsolete, designed for job markets with candidate shortages that existed from the 1940’s until 2007. We haven’t seen candidate shortages for over 5 years. Yet you’ll find obsolete job search advice from government, community, church and alumni career resources, outplacement, even from many recruiters, out-of-date career coaches and some career authors.
  • You ARE desperate: Desperate people do desperate things … which is usually not the best idea. Just because you are desperate for a job, that doesn’t mean that employers want to hear about it. When there are so many qualified candidates available, hiring managers get the impression that there must be something wrong with desperate candidates and rarely hire (or even interview) them.

Employers don’t hire desperate candidates.

If you brand yourself as desperate, you’ll have a tough time proving otherwise. Be aware of common job search practices that make you look desperate, so you don’t give a first impression you’ll regret.