Desperate but not Serious: Advice for Job Seekers


By Mitchell Friedman, Associate Dean of Career Development and Student Affairs

Published 2.4.13

Consider the following scenario: you’ve left a job, and/or you face the prospect of completing your studies at Presidio Graduate School. The pressure mounts as you begin to ponder how you’re going to pay rent, buy food, and even start to make a dent in paying off your student loans (should you have them).

“Get a job” is the answer to the dilemma you face—an excellent choice, I admit, but what matters is how you go about pursuing this very worthy goal.

All too often, the desire to find a job becomes all consuming to a point that the process becomes unhealthy and the sum total of your efforts counterproductive. Many job seekers flail about in all directions with some even going so far as to proclaim, “I’ll take anything.”

The result is a lamentable series of actions fanatically focused on seeing everyone you encounter as a possible employer and, in turn, subjecting friends and acquaintances alike to a relentless cacophony chock full of your many fine attributes that highlight your overall worthiness as an employee.

Such efforts are often counterproductive; you come off as desperate to find work, but not serious about what you actually need to do to be successful, fearful and more than a tad insecure, but seemingly bereft of purpose. The bottom line is that you’ve likely done more harm than good, and will find yourself no closer to finding that very elusive “dream” job than you were before you started on your quest.

I totally understand the rationale behind the aforementioned approach. In fact, I’ve used it myself—with equally frustrating and counterproductive results. The bottom line, I learned, is that trying harder to find a job doesn’t work; what’s key is being smarter by developing a strategy aimed to find work you truly enjoy and for which you are qualified. That means getting clear about what you’re looking for and reaching out to organizations and individuals who can help you gain the knowledge and insight you need to land a suitable position. This strategy treats people you meet as opportunities to connect and build long-term relationships, rather than as objects to meet your short-term needs.  In short, such an approach to looking for work show people you’re serious (but not desperate) and worthy of their time and attention.



Story Soundtrack: “Desperate but not Serious” by Adam Ant

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Mitchell Friedman, Associate Dean of Career Development and Student Affairs

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