There are many situations in life where you’ll simply need whatever job you can find. Whether you’re moving to a new city, switching industries, or simply need to pay the bills, sometimes you’ll need to take what you can find. But don’t make that obvious through the job-seeking process. Coming across as desperate will significantly lower your shot of getting hired.
“The problem with desperation is that it causes you to focus on what you should get rather than what you can give. And when a company is hiring, they’re concerned with the latter, not the former.” –Mark Anthony Dyson
Even when employers themselves desperately need to fill a role, they don’t like when a job seeker appears desperate. As a job seeker, you need to express the value you can bring to that organization rather than focusing on your needs. In order to avoid looking desperate in your search, avoid these common behaviors.
Following up on an application is generally a good idea. If you take time to find the hiring manager’s email address or LinkedIn profile and send them a quick little message introducing yourself, it can give you a leg up on other applicants.
That doesn’t mean pestering someone. You may really want to hear back about this particular position, even if you aren’t overly desperate in general. Perhaps they’ve taken a while to get back to you, but there could be a multitude of reasons for it. Many of these reasons have little to do with you as an applicant.
But LinkedIn’s Alex Cole says that by sending multiple follow-up attempts, you’ll come across as desperate and lose any interest they had for you. Feel free to send one intro message and maybe a follow-up within the suggested time frame, but otherwise, move on.
Applying for multiple roles at the same company
If you really like a company, you may be tempted to send multiple applications to different roles to get your foot in the door. More chances mean more opportunities, right? Wrong; this is actually a good way to appear desperate.
“Employers want to see that you’re a great fit for a particular job. That can be hard to accomplish when you’re applying for every single job that opens at a company.” -career coach Vicki Lind
Monster’s Daniel Bortz points out that applying for multiple roles makes you seem unfocused. You want to tailor your documents to every individual role to appear like the best fit. Applying for too many roles looks like you’re just hoping something sticks. Instead, if you get an interview, mention you’d be open to other roles within the company and express your excitement in a non-desperate way.
Being pessimistic or needy
Conmen also might appeal to pathos by telling their mark some sad story to gain sympathy and put them at ease. This is not a good strategy for a job search! Trying to tell a sob story or expressing how badly you need this job is peak desperation.
Hiring someone is just as stressful for the manager as it is for the candidate. It’s expensive to hire and train a new employee, and if it doesn’t work out, that reflects poorly on the hiring manager. They won’t stake their career on a sob story—and you might not be the only one attempting one.
Ivy Exec says that being willing to do anything for the job isn’t a good look. It doesn’t show you’ll be good at the job at all! Instead, you need to show the value you’d bring the organization and express why you’re the best fit for the role. Let your skills be what persuades the interviewer.
Being a suck-up
Being negative and mopey won’t help you land a job, but neither will being a total butt-kisser. Groveling and overpraising make you appear super desperate.
It’s good to be positive and express excitement for the role. And everyone loves to be complimented. But it’s incredibly easy to see when it’s being laid on too thick. Virtual Vocation’s Eric Schad says to remember that “less is more.” Balance is always a good approach, and it’s no different with flattery.
“For a subtler approach, ask the interviewer, “If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait, what would it be?” “You’re essentially asking the person why they’re good at their job, which is flattering,” –Steve Dalton, author
Accepting the first salary offered
Even if you hold it all together through the process, don’t trip over the finish line. When you get that coveted offer, don’t act too desperate, and don’t blindly take what you’re offered.
Many job seekers are already reluctant about negotiating their opening salary—Robert Half found that only 39% of respondents negotiate the opening offer. It’s even worse when you say you’ll take anything. It can make a manager wonder whether you’ll go above and beyond in any capacity.
You may really need a new job, but it’s crucial to be intentional in your efforts. Just like with dating, coming off as desperate is a great way to turn off any potential connections. Be tactful in your efforts and avoid spray-and-pray approaches and you’ll appear much more hireable.