Being Desperate Can Be a Good Thing

Ever thought of taking a vacation to beautiful Hawaii?  You can sit on the beach.  What passersby.  Read a book.  Listen to music.  Or participate in the Iron Man Competition.  It begins with a friendly 2.4 mile swim, followed by a casual 112 mile bike ride, concluding with a scenic 26.2 mile marathon.  OK.  It’s not friendly, it’s not casual and I assume it’s scenic but I doubt the participants care.  But imagine you have just traversed the 140.8 track and you stumble across the finish line into the waiting figurative arms of a water vendor.  Are you going to say, “Excuse me my good man.  Could I trouble you for a bottle of your finest?” or are you going to grab him by the collar and say, “Give me water!  I need water!  NOW!”  I’d be willing to bet the latter.  Why?  Because  you are not going to negotiate.  He’s got what you need and he is going to give it to you whether he likes it or not.  Great strategy for Iron Man competitors.  Not a great strategy for job seekers.  With employers, you have to negotiate.

Everyone gets it.  You have done nothing wrong.  You are avictim of the economy.   You have been looking for a job for months.  You have only gotten a few interviews and you have never been invited back.  You don’t know what you are doing wrong.  You are frustrated.  But if you come across as desperate no one is going to hire you.  Desperate is great for those dying of thirst.  It’s death to those looking for a job offer.

So how do you cope with desperation?

First, admit that you may be wrong.  In the previous scenario I wrote, “You don’t know what you are doing wrong.”  Well, perhaps you are doing nothing wrong.  In executive recruiting, I only “win” when the client hires my candidate.  I can submit the best candidates in the world to my clients but if they change their mind and decide not to fill the position, or someone close to them, like a board member, suggests someone else, I’ll lose.  They won’t hire my gal or guy.  That’s the life of the recruiter.  Same of the job seeker.  You can do everything correctly, make no mistakes, and just lose to a better candidate.  That’s life.  Deal with it.

How do you deal with it?  Make yourself a better candidate.  Improve your resume.  Don’t sit around doing nothing waiting for the phone to ring.  Take some classes to improve your skills and your mind.  Accept some part-time jobs or consulting assignments.  Make yourself more interesting to interviewers.

Third (second was making yourself more interesting),differentiate yourself from the competition.  As I have noted elsewhere, a great site to visit is http://www.helpareporter.com.  A free service, it puts reporters and researchers in touch with sources.  You should become a “source.”  Every day, three times a day, you will receive a number of e-mails, depending on your preferences, with a host of questions ranging from health issues, to employment, to family, to vacations, to food.  It could be anything.  And if the reporter chooses to use your answer in her article, or to invite you to her radio or television program, you become, by definition, “a recognized expert” in your field.   Your competition may not know about the site.  Or they might not think it important for them.  Or they may ridicule the site because they have low self-esteem and realize nobody would ever be interested in their opinions.  It doesn’t matter.  By choosing not to participate they are doing nothing wrong.  And just as you have been doing nothing wrong in your interviews, and lost out, now it’s their turn to lose out even though they have done nothing wrong…except for the fact that they have not been able to differentiate themselves from you!

I once did some research on how individuals market themselves.  Instead of looking at resumes, I went to dating websites.  The funniest one that I saw had drop-down menus for everything.  You were not able to write unique answers, you had to use theirs.  For appearance, for women, one of the options was “My mother says I’m pretty.”  I guess that’s the Internet equivalent of, “She has a nice personality.”  I now use the term, “My mother says I’m pretty,” to describe the opening paragraphs of resumes that far too many people actually think does not offend the intelligence of the resume’s recipient.  Do you honestly believe that anyone every gives any weight to a candidate claiming to be “A consummate professional with over 15 years experience who has surpassed all of her employers’ expectations, producing unprecedented results never before obtained?”  Of course not!  And, for the record, “unprecedented” means “never before obtained” so, besides not thinking too highly of the person reading the resume, you are also showing them that you have linguistic issues along with a bit of narcissism.

So fourth, and finally, begin your resume with a section titled, “Selected Accomplishments.”   Provide a few bullet points describing without superlatives, just the facts, some things which you have done that speak to the job for which you are applying.  That will make life very easy for the recipient.  They will know exactly why they should consider you without having to read your entire resume.  You are making their life easier for them.  You are differentiating yourself by content and style.  And that, based on a growing number of cases, may very well get you that job offer!

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