Dealing with job search desperation

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A tough job search is one of the hardest experiences anyone can go through. It can be demoralizing. When this happens, do your best not to let desperation set in. It can worsen your chances of getting a job.

The smell of desperation

Desperation sends the message that nobody else wants to hire you – and there must be a reason. This turns-off employers. It can also be an indication that you doubt your own capabilities. No one wants to work with a person who lacks confidence, ambition and focus.

What desperate candidates do:

  1. They apply to multiple jobs with the same company or organization – Desperate jobseekers apply to various job openings in the same company, even when they are not qualified for the position. What’s worse is that they send the same resume for all their applications. Candidates like this are flagged as problem applicants. Employers may ban them from future job openings.
  2. They excessively praise the interviewer – Giving too much praise can make the interviewer uncomfortable. It can also make you sound insincere.
  3. They mention how badly they need the job in the interview – Instead of saying that they are right for the job because of their skills, they mention this to pressure the interviewer to hire them as a favour.
  4. They follow-up too soon and too often after an interview – They call right after the interview and ask if they’ve made a decision. While being proactive is a good trait, know the right time (and frequency) to follow-up.
  5. They say that they are willing to accept any position, any salary – This makes them vulnerable to abusive employers.

Even if you badly need a job, stay in control. Rethink and fine-tune your job search strategy. Take a moment to analyze your situation, capabilities, and plan of action before sending out any more job applications.

Dealing with job search desperation:

  1. Be realistic

    Some newcomers expect that they will get their ideal job immediately after arriving in Canada. When it doesn’t happen, everything falls apart. Recognize that everything doesn’t end just because what you imagined did not become a reality. It’s important to have realistic expectations. You need to be flexible and proactive.

    Acknowledge that there are many variables to getting a job. It’s not only about your skills and capabilities. It can also be about the industry, the employer’s priorities, and other considerations. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t get a job immediately. Be practical. What’s your plan b? Is it time to consider getting a survival job? Even if you decide to get a survival job, know that you don’t have to lose sight of your ideal career.

  2. Mix up your job search

    Change your job search strategy. Don’t do the same things and expect different results. Expand your job search by exploring related or alternative occupations. Attend job fairs, connect on LinkedIn (don’t forget to improve your profile), or join your professional association to network.

    If you’ve been at it for some time and you feel that you’ve tried everything, this may mean that you need additional help. Go to employment and settlement agencies like Success Skills Centre, EDGE Skills Centre, Osborne Village Resource Centre to get the help of a career coach or join the Connector Program to network.

  3. Stick with positive people

    Surround yourself with optimistic people who will support and encourage you. This will keep you from entertaining self-defeating thoughts. Sustain your mental health by being staying social and having a self-care routine. Attend newcomer talks and trainings, or join conversation circles.. You can even join online communities to connect with other newcomers, or professionals in the same field. This will prevent you from obsessing about your situation. You might also get job leads and expand your network.

  4. Change your perspective

    Think about getting a job as just one piece of the settlement puzzle. Give equal attention to the other aspects of your journey, such as language improvement, learning about (and getting used to) Canadian culture, making new friends, volunteering, and taking care of your health (physical and mental). Count every improvement as an achievement and appreciate small successes.

  5. Learn new things

    Use your time learning new skills, trying out new hobbies, volunteering, exercising, meditating – doing other things besides looking for work. Experts say that a healthy full-time job search schedule is 25 hours per week. Use the rest of the time pursuing other things that nurture your mind and make you happy.

Being jobless does not mean that you are worthless. Don’t lose your confidence and don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, you are more than your career. It’s okay to say, “I’m looking for my next opportunity” when someone asks what you do for a living. This is temporary. Your time will come!

Sources: 4 Ways to defeat job search desperation, the Muse; Whatever you do, don’t act like a desperate job seeker, Liz Ryan, Forbes; Don’t look desperate for a job, Daniel Bortz, Monster; and How to deal with job search desperation, Micaela Marini Higgs, New York Times. Accessed June 4, 2019.

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Community Resources

Read How to stay motivated through a rough job search for more tips.

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