hijacking pirateAfter a long and tedious job search that has resulted in no job offers and perhaps only few or no interviews, it is easy to feel desperate. In a vicious circle, that desperation can then hijack your future success.

It is normal for someone to fall into a despairing mood that breeds a job search tinged with desperation and an attitude of willingness towards accept any position that may come their way. And while casting a wider net may garner more opportunities this attitude may also backfire, not only wasting your time but potentially landing you a job that causes your professional development to stagnate.

For starters, a given employer doesn’t care whether or not you are desperate. A hiring manager has a primary responsibility to his or her employer, and that is to find the best match between a job vacancy and an applicant. In the words of Catherine Jewell, author of “New Resume New Career,” “Employers want to know that you will fit in and feel comfortable with their culture. The more you sound like them the better.” If you apply for jobs outside of your realm of expertise, your lack of experience will not go unnoticed. On the flip side, applying for jobs for which you are over qualified raises immediate red flags to an employer who will assume you are only going to work the position until you find something better.

The desperation approach to the job search typically leads to an overabundance of applications. Typically, as quantity goes up quality goes down and simply using a one-size-fits all resume will make little impression upon a hiring manager who will quickly pass over your unremarkable application. The more targeted your application, the more you stand out from your competition. By highlighting unique and relevant experiences an employer can more easily see what makes you distinct and more qualified from the rest of the applicant pool.

Spending your time unwisely during a job search can damage your chances of landing a great job irreparably. Spending all of your time sending out generic applications to dozens of employers steals opportunities for genuinely helpful activities such as building a network of professional contacts, researching companies in which you are truly interested, and determining how you can meet those company’s needs that are currently going unmet. You must reach out to company insiders and let them know not only of your interest in employment but what you have to offer them. And while your desperation may lead to a philosophy of flexibility, an employer wants to know precisely what you want to do and how you are qualified to do it.

Finally, applying for a glut of jobs out of desperation can create false hope and eventual devastation when you begin to receive regular rejections, if you hear anything at all. Consider that if most of what you send out is generic, rushed, and potentially unrelated to specific positions, your job application will more than likely never warrant a second glance. Just because you feel that you’ve been more productive doesn’t mean you have increased your odds for success. Allowing desperation to take control of your job quest results in little more than wasted time and a heavy heart. Focus your job search efforts on opportunities that have a real potential for success. Shape your applications individually to show your worth in a particular field and do your homework so you know what each employer is looking for.

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