Friday, August 17, 2012

10 Ways To Brand Yourself As A Desperate Job Seeker

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:

  1. 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 (see

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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