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'I'll Take Anything!'

You may feel desperate. In fact, you may very well be desperate. But blurt out, "I'll take anything!" at a job interview, and you may blow your chances of being offered a job.

"I've seen a lot of desperate people and they are very scary," says Cathy Fyock, director of recruiting for consultant Resources Global Professionals, headquartered in Irvine, Calif. "When an interviewer hears those three words, it's a total red flag. It's the worst thing an applicant can say because it implies that anything will do for the time being - and that they'll be looking for what they really need in the meantime."

It's All About Them

Keep in mind that the employer is looking out for the company's best interest - not yours. "A job interview requires that you put your feet in the shoes of the HR person," says Sandy Allgeier, a former corporate HR executive and author of The Personal Credibility Factor. "The HR person who is interviewing you is interested in meeting the company's needs. Your job is to demonstrate that you've done some advance thinking about what they need, and how you can help them."

That calls for preparation. "An employer wants to hire a discerning employee - someone with the skills and passion for the job, someone who has taken the time to research the company," says Fyock, who is also the author of five books, including The Truth About Hiring the Best. "You should know a lot about the company and the position. That's what makes you a strong applicant."

Play It Cool

You'll also likely score points by playing it cool. "I think there can be a fine line between enthusiastic and over-enthusiastic. A candidate who is a little too excited would make me a bit nervous about offering them a position," says Doug Gerlach, the vice president of strategic business development for BetterInvesting, an investment education organization headquartered in Madison Heights, Mich. "In fact, I think that sometimes it's better for candidates to play it a bit cool during and after an interview."

That's a piece of advice best used in moderation. "I'm not suggesting that people who are looking for a job should be unprofessional," Gerlach says. "If you don't reply to my phone calls, messages, or e-mails promptly, then you'll be moved down in the list for sure."

The bottom line? "Be confident, not desperate," says Steve Angel, chief executive of the Angel Group, LLC, a Louisville, Ky., executive search firm. "Interview to sell yourself and your skill set, and they'll remember you. Even if you don't get the job, they may invite you back at a later time for the position you really are suited for."

Amy Rauch Neilson is a business writer based in Belleville, Mich.

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AUTHORAmy Rauch Neilson Insider Comment
  • Ov
    Overseer of Operations
    4 March 2010

    IT managers and hiring manager need to put themselves
    in our shoes to see how it feels to be unemployed for 1year, but had between jobs. My last job I was told I
    did not fit in with other people personality, but while in
    training I was given good review. Somehow, someway
    the law need to change. Create jobs for people to sit in
    at companies (title the position Oversee of Operations),
    so that every body is treated fairly. I was still granted
    benefits but this is bull.

  • Da
    Dana
    3 March 2010

    Recruiters or hiring managers also need to look beyond your last job.
    I was in Business Development for almost 2 years for a company that had many problems and was under regulatory supervision by the OTS (prior to my working there). They also lacked sufficient products or capital and the owner had a bad reputation in the area. Needless to say, I was not able to obtain many clients. The bank eventually had to be sold because the Chairman was told to step down. I lost my job and have been unemployed for months. My problem is not interviewing (I have been told I interview very well) but that everyone that sees my title as "Business Development Officer" wants me to bring them a book of business. I don't have anything substantial and would like to return to client service so that I cna get a job. However, how do I get them to go beyond my last year and a half when I apply for a lesser position in client servicing? My prior experience was in Private Wealth Management.

  • JP
    JP
    21 September 2009

    Don't waste your time writing a customized cover letter. Hiring Managers have no time to read anything more than the Executive Summary of the resume...

  • pk
    pkeane
    1 September 2009

    Ann,

    You should be spending your time networking, not answering job postings. I'm not sure of the latest statistic, but it's in the range of 80-90% of all job placements result from a lead they got from someone the new employee knew rather than from responding to a posting. Networking is the key.

  • Jo
    Jon Jacobs
    20 August 2009

    Ann,

    If you received 269 canned responses in two months of job-hunting, it sounds like you are answering too many job postings.

    To improve your results, don't blast identical documents to every opening you see. Instead, tailor distinct resumes and cover letters that maximize your fit with the stated requirements of each opening. That also means being more choosy about which ones you apply to.

    When I say, "more choosy," I don't mean you should reject possibilities because the jobs don't seem good enough. Rather, I'm talking about simple triage: apply to only those openings you have the strongest chance of actually getting. For you or any other job-seeker, th number of responses or interviews you end up getting isn't necessarily a function of the number of postings you answer: in this area, more isn't always better. Also, you should be using other tactics besides answering job postings.

    -Jon Jacobs, eFinancialCareers News staff

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