Getting Desperate In Your Job Search? - DON'T!

By Martin Ellis

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I rarely advertise for candidates; past experience has taught me that I can get swamped with the wrong candidates, but I've got a couple of jobs I'm working on that I thought I might try some job boards - you never know, I might get lucky....

These jobs were posted a week ago. They're both good sales jobs with good companies. The pay's pretty decent and both come with a company car. They're both in busy areas where the skills and experience required are likely to be in abundance. I've used all the main Job Boards with a very through description of what's required...

After a week I have plenty of applications, but NOT ONE reaches the criteria for skills, experience or geography. NOT ONE!  I now have a collection of CV's in front of me - and there's a distict whiff of desperation slowly drifting my way...

These job seekers are clearly applying more in desperation than in the realistic chance they might get an interview. Most have a covering letter that is obviously cut and paste in the hope it looks personal, but they're couched in terms that are so generic that it can't be the case. It doesn't help that these covering letters are written to "Dear Sir" or "Hello". My name appears in the ad quite prominently - the least they could do would insert it so it at least appears personal.



Reading some applications is quite sad. There are clearly some bright people who have been ground down. Their spirit's shot, and they're just going through the motions. You get the sense they've been at this for months, and rather than try something new, they're recycling old ideas in the vain hope that if you throw enough 'stuff' at the wall, eventually something will stick...

I know people will be finding it difficult to get a new job, and I don't wish to just give them a hard time, but they're not making themselves look attractive in the job market. I can imagine things at home might not be easy, so reporting "Been busy today dear. I've applied for 21 jobs" might give them a sense of purpose, and perhaps even relief that their partner will see them in a positive light, but I get the clear sense of people stuck on a treadmill and no way of knowing how to get off.



  1. STOP IT. Take a day off and give yourself a good talking to. What do you want and are you being realistic? Break the cycle. Freshen your mind.
  2. Don't chase everything. You'll just get knackered and disillusioned.
  3. Define what you want. Bring some focus and WORK ON IT. Dig around. Look on new websites. Write to potential employers directly (why don't more people do that?). Use the Advanced Job Search tool on LinkedIn (come on, you do know where that is? It's your job to know).
  4. Personalise your approach. You can cut and paste, but then insert a name and a paragraph that's specific to the job for which you're applying. At least make it LOOK like you're trying.
  5. Focus your efforts on getting the job you want. Don't just apply so you can tell everybody down the pub on a Friday night that "I've applied for over a hundred jobs this week, but not got a reply from anybody. Those recruiters are a waste of time".
  6. Do something different. Here are 6 ideas. And here are a few more. Don't laugh. I can introduce you to people who got a job after they read those suggestions.


Some of the applicants have some great skills and experience, but for all sorts of reasons they are also desperate and it's showing. It's doing nobody any favours, most of all the job hunters.

In the meantime, I need to remember that advertising roles isn't always a good use of my time. Back to the phones, talking to people and shaking my network. 

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