Recently, I ran into a young man I know who mentioned he was looking for a new job. When I asked what he was looking for, he replied, “I’ll do anything!” While I’m sure he thought this was a very flexible attitude, he came off sounding extremely desperate (and maybe he was!). I told him I’d keep him in mind, but the first problem was, I had no idea what his skills, interests or capabilities were in order to recommend him for a future opening. Should I call him if I hear of a teaching position? A firefighter position? A clerical position?
It is a big mistake to carry a “desperate” attitude, both for the job seeker and the impression to the potential employer. For the job seeker, conveying a desperate position immediately puts you in a poor position for negotiating salary. The employer believes you are needy and therefore can probably offer you a lower salary than someone who is not desperate. Also, you are more likely to accept “any” job, with a weak analysis as to whether it is a good fit for you. Soon enough, you’ll be wondering why you took the job and you’ll be unhappily looking for something else.
For the employer (or recruiter), a desperate candidate may seem unfocused and unable to identify their strengths. So, they will be skeptical about your abilities. Also, employers like to hire candidates who are excited about doing the work of a particular job. So, if you do not identify why you are interested in THAT job, they will wonder whether you really want it and how long you plan to be there. They are investing in the time and expense to hire and train someone new and will not consider someone who they believe is going to leave once a more interesting opportunity comes up.
What to do? First, be prepared to describe what you are looking for by focusing on your strengths and interests. You can keep your answer broad to show flexibility, but there must be an emphasis on your skills and capabilities. For example, that young man could have said, “I have experience in office skills and customer service in corporate and retail environments.” Someone else might say, “I am strong in sales, business development, and marketing.” Second, seriously consider whether you really want to take “anything”, since you may find yourself looking all over again in a short time. Finally, if you ARE feeling desperate, practice answering questions in a way that conveys interest and enthusiasm. You will be more likely to get an offer….and a better one at that!
The dog is barking, the TV is blasting, and food is boiling over on the stove…the phone rings…and it’s someone calling about your résumé. If you don’t do something fast, your “first impression” is going to be your last! When you are in job hunting mode, you need be prepared for such calls. Many job seekers do not realize that it is as important to impress the employer by phone as it is in person. It is critical that you come across as professional and someone who is prepared.
So, what should you do when you really are caught by surprise? First, thank the person for calling and politely ask if they can hold on for a minute. Use your “hold” or “mute” button while you take care of the following: turn off the stove, shut the TV and move the dog. Or, move to another room where there is no background noise. Have a file folder ready by the phone that contains your résumé and a list of employers you sent it to as a reference. Prepare a checklist of skills – a “cheat sheet” – of skills that you may want to emphasize during such calls. Be ready for common questions such as “Why are you interested in this job?” or “How do you qualify for this position?” Then, get ready for that phone to ring!
How many FaceBook friends do you have? How many LinkedIn connections? How many followers on Twitter? Many people today are focused on the numbers of social media sites. They are addicted to schmoozing online, excited to add more contacts to their lists, proud to have others see their numbers. When I speak to job seekers about their search, they also talk about how many job ads on monster they answered and how many hours a day they spend on other job boards, etc. So what is their bottom line I want to know, for all of this counting? What “numbers” are these connections, friends, and followers yielding in terms of interviews?
I wonder, how many of these friends can help them during a job search? How many of these connections or followers would speak to them on the phone or meet them for coffee to help them? How many of them are comfortable sharing the name and contact information of a colleague of theirs who would also be willing to sit down with the “friend” and perhaps counsel them on their job search?
I recently spoke with a 40-something job seeker who told me that he sent out 10 letters for jobs and got three interviews out of it. He was embarrassed that he had only sent out 10 letters to date and wanted an opinion on how to do better than 30%. Now, we can all improve our hit rates, but I told him that a return of 30% in this economy was really great and I wanted to know more about these 10. So, he went on to describe how he got to those 10. Each one of them was a key decision maker in the company of interest and he was referred to each one specifically by different trusted colleagues. Now that is a quality connection…a real friend…someone to follow…not just a number.
You know what I am going to say here, right? It is about the relationship. It is about face to face, personal relationships. It is about the quality. How many friends do you have?