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When Eager Becomes Desperate

January 26th, 2009 · 4 Comments

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The majority of the questions that come in to my Ask Brian feature continue to be along the same lines: how long should I wait to hear back; what does it mean if I don’t hear back from an employer; and how can I try to get them to respond to me without being annoying?

As you can see, the questions boil down to the issue of etiquette… how do you go after a job aggressively, without seeming too desperate. Without resorting to begging.

In short, when does eagerness become desperation.

I’ve tackled this question from different angles in the past… especially with this post.

But I thought, maybe I should go out and make sure my thoughts on this are still valid, especially given the current climate. So I touched base with four hiring managers that I’ve done business with over the years. They’re each in four different industries, and two are with major Fortune 500 companies.

Essentially, I asked them about job search etiquette. What sort of eagerness do they like to see? And when do job searchers cross the line? What makes a job seeker become annoying.

Their answers made sense to me, and it sort of summed up like this:

  1. Initially, eagerness for a job opportunity looks good on the job searcher.  The recruiter wants to see, in fact, loves to see the prospect show excitement about the position in particular, or the company over-all.
  2. After you’ve submitted your resume and are looking to get interviewed, it’s ok to follow up. Again, this shows that you’re into the process.  And hey, the hiring managers admitted to me, they’re not the best communicators sometimes. Gentle prodding is something they understand.
  3. This goes ditto for after the interview. If you’ve interviewed and just want to hear back, the hiring manager understands. A good point to keep in mind is that the person you’re communicating with, and even the person you interviewed with… they might not be the ones who can make the ultimate decision. They also might not know the ultimate timetable. Try to be understanding of this fact.
  4. You get annoying when they’ve given you a specific timetable and you ignore that timetable. If they tell you WHEN you’ll hear something, then don’t bug them before that point. And if they still have no info, don’t bug them every day. Give them some breathing room.
  5. Once you’ve heard the answer no, at any point in this process, let it go. At that point you’re really annoying if you start begging for other chances or other positions. In some cases, you were told no because you weren’t right for a specific position. You might be right for a different position, but if you were, the hiring manager would probably already have seen that and suggested it themselves. Sometimes you’re told no cause they just aren’t that into YOU.

Related posts:

  1. On Desperate Times – State of the Job Market

Tags: Job Search

  • Renaissance Wannabe

    I absolutely agree. I finished up my last job search less than a year ago, and I found that a hiring manager that was truly interested in you was in generally good contact and willing to talk to you within reason. The only point I would caution on is the point between applying and interviewing – I’ve heard through the grapevine (oh so accurate, I know) that a typical Craigslist ad may receive 100+ submissions nowadays. A hiring manager may simply be too busy to even consider speaking with you at that stage in the game.

    Thanks for this blog, Brian. I know several folks that find it helpful nowadays.

  • Kim Avery, Certified Career Coach

    Great distinctions between eager and desperate.

    The next logical question is this, how does a job seeker keep from feeling desperate when jobs are scarce and the bills are mounting. As I’ve seen in my clients, this is much easier said that done.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  • CK

    These days it is tough to get a job! And if you have one then consider yourself luck!

    I know that I am in a situation that isn’t too pleasent but for the most part my position is secure.

    One thing I would suggest is that people should expand on they employability. Sure it has been said before but it needs to be done! Go back to school, volunteer, etc. – something that would give you experience, and/or expand your field. Also doing such will give you additional network contacts.

  • Jeffrey Hurley

    An excellent post. I have experienced overly aggressive job seekers in our college recruiting programs, they contacted 10 to 12 different managers within the organization looking for a job. This backfires every time because recruiting is handled by a small number of HR team members who collect all contacts and log them. I agree with you; if a person is a good fit for another position the manager will make the referral.