Click this post's title to read what Alison Green tells us the recession jobs marketplace looks like from an employer's side.
She confirms what we all know:
More and higher quality applicants, including those that meet EVERY single requirement. Lower and more realistic salary expectations from applicants. And desperation.
Desperation is apparent in what she reports as highly overqualified people applying for internships and lower level jobs, and for jobs that do not make any sense in someone's career path.
Her advice? "Make sure you're really targeting your job search to positions that are a strong match."
I understand desperation. I've been there. People I know feel desperate to get a job, any job. The hardest advice to hear and take when desperate is...target your job search to what you really want and for which you are qualified.
Yet, what else can you do?
Desperation is destructive and unattractive. Desperation keeps me awake at night. Causes my stomach to turn over. Makes it difficult for me to think straight. Keeps me in a constant state of anxiety and fear. And people - especially employers - can smell desperation. They don't like it. It's as if it's contagious and people don't want to catch it. Certainly they don't want it around them.
It's such a horrible paradox that we have to put our best face forward when we feel terrible about ourselves - during the job search. You know, because "everyone loves a winner" and "people want to hire someone who's confident in themselves." Those kind of statements always felt tyrannical to me, not to mention unfair and next to impossible to fulfill.
Nonetheless, that's the game. So step back just a moment from the precipice and breathe. There are some ways to reduce feelings of desperation. They do require persistent use and the suspension of cynicism, as well as willingness to push off your desperation when it tries to resurface ("OK, I'll feel you later. Now I'm doing this.")
Here's what worked for me, and seems to work for people I hear from and work with:
1) Pull together your "must have list." Figure out what you love doing, do well and want to do again, where you will do your best work, with whom, and how much you need to live on. Use it to decide where to apply.
2) Use your must have list as a guide to interview employers. Just as they are deciding if you meet their requirements, do the employers meet YOUR requirements? This is not to suggest that you be arrogant and behave in an entitled way. This is suggested as a way for you to convey confidence, self-knowledge, and a sense of your own abilities and cultural fit. Whenever I approached an employer with an air of curiosity about them, I did much better on my interview.
3) Remember the employer needs to hire someone. Why not you? I mean, someone's going to get the job. It might as well be you as anyone else. What this really means is that the employer is looking for someone to like. They WANT to find the right person. They WANT to like you. If they've invited you for an interview, they definitely liked what they saw on paper and over the telephone (if there was a pre-meeting). So you've already passed that test. They like you already! You don't have to prove that you are likeable. You simply have to show up and continue the conversation. And maybe you won't like them. Or maybe they won't like you as much as someone else. Which leads me to...
4) Have a little faith. Even if you don't have a spiritual foundation, it is possible to develop some kind of belief that all is unfolding for your highest good. If you don't get that job, it wasn't the right one. When it is right, you'll get it. Easy for me to say, you may think. Just look at some of my posts about my two year job search and being fired...talk about having to develop faith!
I guess the ultimate message is that it will pay off for you to calm down instead of giving in to the desperation. I don't know when you'll get the job. I just know you will get it. Will you need to make hard decisions, perhaps scale back your standard of living, move? Maybe. I don't wish those changes on anyone. I do know that every time I've faced extreme difficulty, my attitude has made it much easier to adjust to the inevitable changes. Desperation doesn't work for me, it works against me.