Is Desperation Guiding Your Search?

John Krautzel
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Fear is a clever foe. Letting it take over can sabotage a job search and wear you out until you're happy to take any available position. Fear causes you to second-guess every choice, question your worth and abandon your stands. With stress and financial obligations mounting, you're prone to bad decisions that hurt, rather than help, your career. If your motivation is waning, watch for signs that desperation may be driving your job search.

1. Do You See Yourself With the Company in Six Months?

Sometimes, taking a short-term job is necessary to pay the bills, but it often does more harm than good to take a lousy position in your field. If you leave an interview reminding yourself the job is "just for now," consider walking away altogether. A stressful full-time job limits the time and energy you can devote to a job search, and dealing with an unpleasant employer or environment everyday can affect how you feel about your work.

When you desperately need income, it's better to find an easy temporary job that doesn't cause burnout or sour your enthusiasm. By taking care of short-term financial needs, you're free to focus on finding a job you really enjoy.

2. Are Your Career Goals a Top Priority?

Career goals may become a distant memory when you're scrambling for job leads. Suddenly, you forget everything that motivated your current job search. Maybe, you weren't growing, or the company had little room for advancement. Whatever your reason for leaving, desperation makes you overlook the same flaws in prospective jobs.

Every choice should serve your long-term priorities, so it's essential to make sure you aren't rushing in for the wrong reasons. Do you hate the work? Is the job a dead-end position with few opportunities to advance or form influential connections? Do you fight gut feelings whenever you interact with the company? If you answered "yes" to these questions, you're chasing jobs with little or no long-term value.

3. Are You Lowering Expectations?

Assuming your salary expectations are in line with your experience and skills, it doesn't make sense to lower your standards to pursue second-rate jobs. No matter what you bring to the table, many employers still try to short-change job candidates to get the best deal. If a company offers a weak benefits package or lower compensation than the industry standard, use research to back up your reasons for requesting a higher salary. Don't be afraid to reject offers from employers who refuse to compromise during your job search. A company that isn't willing to invest in your talents upfront isn't likely to value you once you're hired.

To avoid a desperate job search, confront the source of your feelings. Taking any job is a sign that you're afraid of failing in a new role, and you don't believe you have the strong qualifications to play the field. Chances are, you experienced similar fears in previous jobs and overcame them with time and support. Learn to identify fear-based behavior, so you can make smart job search decisions that move your career forward.

Photo courtesy of winnond at


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