Don't Be the Desperate Job Seeker | Ladders

You don't have to take this job.

Don’t Be the Desperate Job Seeker

You don’t have to take this job. You have options.

We’ve heard the comparison a thousand times: A job search is very much like the dating game.

You never want to look desperate. You don’t want to come across as having low standards. You don’t want to come across as though you would go out with just anyone.

You want to exude calm confidence. You want to come across as being genuinely interested in getting to know the other person but not ready to launch into a relationship until you get to know him or her better. You want to appear desirable and desired.

Five ways to be desirable

No matter how badly you want a particular job, don’t think of it as a life-or-death situation. Consider it being open to going on a date with the other person. With that analogy in mind, here are five ideas on which to focus.

1. Keep your options open

Would you date someone if you were the only person interested in her? I doubt it. People want to go out with someone who is intriguing and who they feel they have to put in some effort to date.

To put yourself in such a position, write down all of the options you have for the next six months:

  • If you’re currently employed, you can stay in your job.
  • You can go back to school and work on an advanced degree.
  • You can start your own business.
  • You can work for a former competitor.
  • You can write the book you’ve always put off.
  • You can volunteer for a worthy not-for-profit agency.

The key is to know you always have options. When you feel you don’t have options, you will come across as being desperate for any opportunity.

2. Recall past successes

Write down five of your past success stories. Answer these five questions for each job:

  • What was my goal?
  • What obstacles did I have to overcome to achieve the goal?
  • How did I persevere through those obstacles?
  • What did it feel like when I achieved the goal?
  • What lessons did I learn from that experience that I can use in my next job?

Be familiar with your past successes. You may be able subtly to inject them into a conversation with a decision-maker about the job you want.

3. Relax

Dating success or failure often comes down to non-verbal communication. A nervous laugh, talking excessively, or saying “I’m sorry” every 90 seconds can signal that you are unsure of yourself.

Calmly listening sends the message that you are confident in yourself and you don’t have to fill up all the available quiet moments with endless chatter.

4. Patience

Demonstrating patience in the job search shows that you are in a position of strength and that you don’t have to accept anything immediately. By moving the process along patiently, you may very well motivate the other person to work harder. If you pressure the person to make a decision today, you may turn him away from you.

5. Be fun to be around

As a job candidate, be the type of person other people will want to work with. I’m not talking about having a beer or a glass of wine with the interviewer. I am talking about being willing to hear about the other person’s day. Relax, smile and be patient.

These are very difficult and intense economic times. If you are not careful, you will walk into an interview situation with stress written all over your face.

Instead, walk in with the attitude that you are merely looking forward to meeting a new friend. Be confident, calm, relaxed and ready to explore the possibility of moving to the next level in your relationship.

Take it slow, have fun and know you’re in a position of strength because you don’t have to take this job. You have options. You have confidence. You have past successes. And you know you will be patient until you get the opportunity you are looking for.

Dan Coughlin

Dan Coughlin Dan is a business keynote speaker and seminar leader on leadership, innovation, and branding. He is also an executive coach and author of four books on generating sustainable, profitable growth. His books include "Accelerate", "Corporate Catalysts", "The Management 500", and "Find a Way to Win". His clients include McDonald’s, GE, Toyota, Prudential, Coca-Cola, Marriott, Boeing, Abbott, SUBWAY, Kiewit, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

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