Desperate Times Call for Not-So-Desperate Measures

During a recent career coaching session with a client, I realized that much of the advice that he had been given was, in my humble opinion, not so very good. In fact, the advice was desperately bad.


For instance, my client said that a friend told him that he should not wear a suit to an interview because it would make him look desperate. The word desperate came up a few more times. The same friend told my client that you should never admit that you have been laid off from your job, even if is true, because that would make you seem desperate. And last, my client asked if reaching out to prospective employers, without seeing a job posting, would make him look desperate.


My advice about the suit. If you own a good suit, wear it to an interview. Dress up. Polish your shoes. Trim your facial hair. Be clean and neat. You want to make a good impression. Dressing well helps make desperately good first impressions.


My advice about admitting that you were laid off from your job. Tell the truth. There is no shame in having been laid off. The vast majority of Americans know at least one person (a friend, relative, neighbor) whose job has been eliminated. Explain that your job was eliminated, stay positive about your former employer, and move on to explaining why you are interested in their job opening. Doing so will make you seem desperately honest and focused.


And last, my advice about reaching out to prospective employers. Do it! It shows initiative and drive not desperation, in my book.


I am curious. Do you agree or disagree with my advice? And what crazy career advice have you heard and disagreed with?


About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at


Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the Author

Judith Lindenberger

Judith Lindenberger is President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning HR consulting agency. She has over 30 years of experience helping clients create effective human resource management strategies to drive success for their organization and their employees. Lindenberger Group’s seasoned team of consultants offer expert guidance on all aspects of HR from recruitment and staffing to training and development to payroll and compliance. For more information, email


Cara Carroll

Desperation can be a turn off so it is definitely in the best interest of the job seeker to be careful. However, here are my thoughts on the points brought up:
1. Suits are nice, sometimes can be see as overkill depending on the environment of the company though. However, it really doesn’t change my opinion of the candidate. I think the suit is just something that is nice but not necessary, and easily forgettable once the candidate opens their mouth. Personally I am fine with slacks (on a guy or gal) a nice shirt, and nice pair of shoes.
2. I agree with Judith on this one. Telling the truth is a good way to make sure you don’t get caught in a lie. Getting laid off because of a decision you had no control over is not your fault. The reasonable recruiters and managers will understand that.
3. Because there is not a lot of background on how this candidate is reaching out to prospective employers I am going to say it “could” seem desperate depending on the approach. If you are simply cold calling companies left and right then yes not only does this seem desperate but it is down right annoying! Also, I would venture to say that candidate is probably not going to increase their chances of getting a job anyway if the company has no postings it most likely will not have anything for you when you call. Now if the candidate has a connection within that company that knows of an unposted opening, that is a different story. Also, if the candidate knows someone who knows someone (Linkedin would help here) at a prospective company, again different story. But simply mass emailing or calling is most likely going to get a candidate no where. People who get jobs where there was no posting are usually those with connections on the inside (ie: those who put effort into sustaining and building a good network)!


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