Lately, I’m hearing complaints about job hunters who have become a real pain in the rear. These job hunters are presumptuous. Self centered. Or feign interest in a relationship they haven’t cared about in five years.
So what’s new? When people run scared and desperate, they act stupid. And plenty of people are scared and desperate. They’re waking up every morning thinking, “I’ve got to get a job.” They’re so focused on themselves and their problems they forget common sense and professionalism.
This isn’t new behavior. Fifteen years ago, several job hunters called me and asked when they could come over and thumb through my Rolodex. Five years ago, I was getting mass mailings from job hunters asking me to “Please copy this letter and enclosed resume and send it to everyone you know.” Today these requests come via e-mail.
What is new is the number of desperate and scared people making such a career faux pas. And the desperation seems more intense.
In part, there are many young, former highfliers who were in positions way over their heads, who made easy money, jumped from one higher paying job to another and thought they could write their own ticket. Today, they have unrealistic expectations. Some have never had to look for a job. Many are lost. Which makes them more scared and desperate.
Some seasoned professionals are behaving badly too. Their fear is fueled by doom and gloom statistics. Like the ones from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that said the U.S. economy shed more jobs in October and November than in any two-month period in the last 20 years.
If any of this sounds like you, clean up your act. It’s not helping your plight. Instead:
Put yourself in the employers’ shoes. Remember what it was like when you were riding high and gainfully employed. Did you drop everything to help someone–especially if you didn’t know them? Did someone else’s job hunt become your priority? For that matter, did you even return their call?
Don’t expect people to bend over backwards for you just because you need help. Be realistic about what people can and are willing to do. No one in their right mind is going to refer you to their friends and associates if they don’t know you from Adam. And if you’re pushy and rude, you will only tarnish your reputation–which is the last thing you want. People help those they know and like.
Replace your attempt to get people to give you names with the goal to rekindle relationships and build new ones. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Respect their time. Respect their relationships.
Stop focusing on your problem. You wouldn’t go into a job interview and say, “I need this job because I have a mortgage to pay.” No one is going to hire you for that reason. Neither is anyone going to refer you to others they know when your sole focus is on “getting contacts.” It’s insulting. Not to mention how desperate you sound. If you want referrals, show someone how you can be an asset to the people they know.
Replace your fear with faith. People can be the best source around for information about what’s going on in their companies and industry and for helping you discover jobs. But until you get your fear under control, you’ll scare people away and turn off the best resource you’ve got.