These tips will help you secure the job you want without seeming desperate

Been on the bench and scanning the job websites for a little longer than expected? Perhaps you're in a role you loathe and would do anything to move on?

While securing a new gig – and fast – may be paramount, you'll do yourself a disservice if potential employers catch a too-intense whiff of urgency from your applications, career consultant Michelle Pascoe cautions.

"You don't have to go into an interview wearing a T shirt that says 'I really want this job; I'm desperate' for the interviewer to see desperation in your eyes, your body language and the words you use," Pascoe says.

"The person conducting the interview wants to feel that you are truly interested in joining the business for all the right reasons, not just because it pays well or it's better than where you are now, so consider your answers and your body language."

Curious, well researched and enthusiastic is the impression to aim for, careers coach Sally-Anne Blanshard advises.

"Try to remain positive about your current situation or employer," she says.

Here are some tips for coming across as cool and keen, not down and desperate, when you're spruiking yourself on the employment market.

Do some homework (but not too much)

Research the company you're interviewing with, so you can ask intelligent and insightful questions when the opportunity arises. It's Jobseeker 101 advice that will stand you in good stead – up to a point, PD Training principal Paul Findlay says.

Reeling off the ages and hobbies of every member of the Board, or discourse at length about the firm's failed foray into Kazakhstan in 1999, and you'll risk looking more corporate stalker than keen candidate.


"If you have obviously spent hours and hours researching the business, reading obscure web pages and financial reports, you can easily put yourself in the category of 'I have nothing better to do and I will do anything to impress' so, as with anything, be prepared, but don't get weird."

Know what you want

Making it known you're willing to do anything with even a tenuous link to your qualifications or experience may make you look flexible – or like someone who's out of options.

Being comfortable articulating the sort of role you're after and why you've got what it takes will help you appear proactive and professional and make it easier for contacts to provide appropriate leads and introductions, says Trevor-Roberts executive director and careers specialist Deborah Wilson.

"Get your story straight on what you're looking for," she says.

Avoid the Eeyores

Feeling glum about your chances for the next interview after a string of knockbacks? Spending time with perpetual pessimists may ratchet the desperation factor up even further, Pascoe cautions.

"Stay away from the naysayers in your life even if you live with them; don't let other people tell you what you can and can't achieve," she advises.

"If you really want the position, believe in yourself, go into the interview prepared with questions, and plan ahead how you are going to get there and what you are going to wear. Be authentic, smile and think how much better your life will be when you get the job."

Going once, going twice …

Yes, you're one of 200 applicants and most likely share the shortlist with a handful of other highly qualified candidates, but your potential employer isn't the only one with options. You could have some, too, and making that known can help position you as a hot property that won't stay on the market for long.

"Everyone wants someone that's in demand – whether you are feigning reluctance to leave your current employer because of future opportunities, or a strong track record you've built, or the other appealing roles with strong packages that you're 'currently in advanced discussions with', always makes the employer lean forward to listen just a little more closely to you," Findlay says.

But beware the danger of over-egging the pudding: "Don't go talking up all your offers too much – people know people and if you allude to specifics that aren't true, you will be caught out."

Prepare for the worst

Can you live with not getting the job you've put your hand up for? If the answer is truly no, then it'll likely be 'yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir' when you come before an interview panel or start talking terms and conditions.

Preparing yourself in advance for the worst – that someone else may get the nod – places you in a stronger position when the time comes to talk turkey, according to recruitment doyenne Sarina Russo.

"If you can [do this], you won't be intimidated," Russo says.

"You will be able to sell yourself with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude and transfer the need to the employer."

What's your advice for securing that job without seeming desperate? Tell us in the comments below.