Timebound Workplace

Desperate People Don’t Get New Jobs, Try This Approach Instead

Just like in the world of dating, looking desperate is not going to get you anywhere in your job search. When someone sees the glint of desperation in your eye, they question your motives and you lose credibility in an instant. Sure, there is a correlation of number of job applications and number of interviews you land but what if you could get the ratio down to one interview per application? Or even better, how about getting interviews without applying?

Spray’n’pray applications

The old school way of applying for jobs is not really working in today’s economy. Employers are inundated with resumes from hopeful jobseekers, sometimes receiving hundreds of applicants for one single position. Employers also tend to get a great deal of open applications that are not related to any particular jobs. This indicates that the applicant is on the desperate side and just wants the employer’s brand on their resume.

Recruiters constantly have adverts out for various positions in their field. These adverts will render a number of applications on a daily basis, mainly from candidates adhering to the ‘spray and pray’ methodology. Anyone that sends the same resume and cover letter email to 20 positions in one day will have to be classified as desperate and recruiters run to the hills when they see it.

Simply applying for any job that is out there and even for jobs that aren’t out there is not going to be the way forward. All it does is putting the desperate stamp on your resume and yourself.

Someone told me to…

The typical ‘expert’ advice in a tough market would be to call up the recruiter and/or employer and make sure they read your resume and put you at the top of the pile. In this day and age, this won’t make you stand out and if anything you will only come across as desperate and ascertain your resume goes either to the bottom of the pile or in the trash can. A hiring manager wants enthusiasm from a new employee, not desperation.

But shouldn’t I try all means to get a new job?

Of course you should try everything, but you only get one chance with each company and you want to make it count. Instead of you applying, imagine being headhunted or even contacted direct by a hiring manager. This would put you you in a much stronger bargaining position which you can leverage from, especially if get a job offer.

How to avoid looking desperate

Have high standards and only agree to look at jobs that you really want. An interviewer can spot an opportunist jobseeker a mile away. By only applying for the right roles for you, you will save time and effort for the ones that really count. Furthermore, recruiters and employers will respect your integrity and remember you for the next opportunity they have that is more relevant to your preferences.

Do whatever it takes for the recruiter or employer to contact you instead of vice versa. There are a number of ways you can work on your branding, start getting active online, give talks in your field and raise your profile. Employers and recruiters will be all over you like ducks on a June bug.

Action plan

Take a long-term approach to your career and work on your personal brand today. Start writing blog posts about your industry, zeroing in on a few companies with the help of social networking, get active in online groups and recruiters, head up industry events, the list goes on and on…


The point I am making is that you want to turn the table and be different to other jobseekers. You don’t want to be pushy, if anything you should be pushed into an interview. Just like the dating game, the hard-to-gets seem to get lots of offers and can pick and choose. Avoid looking desperate, keep your high standards and dignity when looking for the next position and I am convinced you will fare better than ever.

Related: How NOT to Contact Recruiters on LinkedIn.

Image: Shutterstock

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.