4 Ways To Not Reek Of Desperation

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When you’re desperate it’s hard to win business, get that job, market a product or do anything (like find a mate).

The trouble is that most people who are desperate, can’t even muster up the levity to see, feel and hear it in themselves. When you’re desperate, your confidence drops, so whether you’re looking to meet someone, get a job or close a piece of business, nobody wants to connect with someone who reeks of desperation – and therefore lacks confidence in whatever it is that they’re doing.

If you can’t find a job, there are plenty of things that you can do.

What most people fail to realize is that while they are looking for work, their full-time job is actually making themselves as knowable as possible (Hugh McGuire over at the The Book Oven and one of the co-hosts of Media Hacks once brilliantly stated, "don’t Blog to be know. Blog to be knowable"). Our work/world has changed. If you are looking for work, pay attention to this…

4 Ways to not Reek of Desperation:

  1. Publish. Whether it’s in text, images, audio or video and whether it’s a Blog, flickr, YouTube, Twitter or a Podcast, there is absolutely zero reason why you should not be highlighting how you think, and express yourself through one of these many online channels (btw, it’s free too). If someone is truly interested in you, they are going to do a quick online search to learn more. If the number one organic search result is not your own personal space of what truly makes you unique, you are failing yourself… miserably. This is especially true if you’re out of work, because time is not an issue. Start publishing about something (anything!) that you are passionate about. It doesn’t even have to be related to what you’re pursuing. You’re simply demonstrating (publicly) how you think. Pushing this further: who would not want somebody who has an audience/community as a part of their team?
  2. Read. What was the last book that you read related to the industry you’re interested in? If you are not up-to-date on the latest book, or if suffer from the fact that Google is actually making you stupid (a la Nicholas Carr), what about Blog postings, industry magazines, general business magazines, etc… If you’re looking to be hired and you’re not up to snuff on the latest trends, thoughts and innovations, why should anybody bring you in? This is on you, and if you don’t like to read, get over it. It’s an integral part of learning and growing. Plus, you can cheat: hope over to iTunes and subscribe to both audio and video Podcasts that serve your industry and get informed.
  3. Community. What have you done in your community? If you’re not working, why are you not an active participant in bettering the community? This can be both social causes or industry related ones. Better yet, why not volunteer  your time to the organization by specifically applying your professional skill-sets? Imagine both the amazing work you can do to make the world a better place while also meeting some amazing individuals who are also contributing their time. In my experience, the volunteers on the many boards and organizing committees are usually the most fascinating people in the world (and can probably help you network and connect if you’re truly great at what you do).
  4. Lead. No one is going to do this for you, and you may not be able to get into the groove of someone else’s community or charity, so why not start your own? Look at how the whole unconference movement started with BarCamp. This handful of people had passion, commitment and the drive to start something new by being/becoming a leader (which they probably didn’t even realize they were doing at the time). Why not head over to Meetup and start a group or join/help to lead an existing one? Leadership doesn’t have to happen in the physical world either, you can also head over to Ning and start your own online community or even something as simple as group on Facebook or an open dialogue using Twitter (look at what #BlogChat is doing for inspiration). Bottom-line: there are way too many opportunities that exist for you right now to become an industry leader. All you have to do is figure out the area of expertise that’s right for you and put the long, hard hours of work into building it.

Do you see how this works?

Nobody owes you anything. Social Media offers you tools, access and opportunity that were not available to a single person within a specific niche until very recently. It’s up to you… and it’s incumbent on you to be successful. As Jeffrey Gitomer says, you don’t have to ask your Daddy for an allowance anymore. Translate that: you don’t need permission… it’s on you to do this, and no HR person can do this for you. So, while everyone else is letting their Blogs lapse or are spending their time tweeting for the sole purpose of gaming their numbers, why not use the channels to empower yourself to be become more knowable and interesting?

What do you think? What would you add to this list?


  1. Excellent post Mitch! I would add that creating a digital profile with an online resume can also be helpful, and create a lot more interest than the traditional photocopied fare. A cool one is http://www.virtualcv.com
    Great writing, always enjoy your thoughts.

  2. Good stuff, Mitch. I’ve often advised people out of work (when they’ve asked me) to start a blog where they write about the profession they want to be working in. It demonstrates your expertise and gives you something to get you moving and thinking. It also shows a prospective employer that you could blog for them.
    I would also advise people looking for work to be very careful about the message the totality of their social media presence is saying to potential hiring managers and people in their networks. And I don’t mean “don’t post drunk pictures.” I mean if you spend all your time complaining about your job search, then post on Facebook that you’ve been in your PJs all day, you’re not sending a very positive message.

  3. … and this is how MLM and social media experts are born :).
    “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”.
    I give away free shovels to whoever looks for a job.
    Here is my single point list for those looking for a job:
    Work harder than ever.
    Great point about getting involved in the community.

  4. Excellent points. It’s also important to respond.
    I keep meeting people looking for work (most recently an accountant, C-level executive and a fundraiser). I make a few suggestions when possible and offer to connect on LinkedIn. I may even offer to meet if they’re floundering. They often say yes but don’t even respond or don’t respond promptly.
    You spoke at The Art of Marketing conference in Toronto. After sorting through business cards yesterday, I sent out three invitations to connect on LinkedIn. Two agreed within hours. What a contrast.
    PS Completing a LinkedIn profile to 100% is worthwhile goal too.

  5. These words are tough for me to take, but I know they’re true. My thinking runs like this: I would give my opinion about the state of my industry (whatever my industry is), if my knowledge were worth something. How do I measure the worth of my knowledge? How much am I making on it now? $0. There’s my answer. So why bother?
    Turning around my career 180°, starting with the mentality that there’s something out there particularly for me to do (let alone lead), is the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. And I’ll admit I’m not doing a very good job at it.

  6. Everyone has great ideas so far. I’d like to add a few of my own:
    NETWORKING EVENTS: Mitch mentions starting your own MeetUp group or joining an existing meeting. I live in South Florida and there are lots of great industry events happening every week. Since I work in Marketing, I make it a goal to attend at least one marketing event per week. Set yourself a goal and stick to it. Some good places to start in South Florida:
    Free events where you can learn a few tricks and meet with great people
    A great collection of events happening in South Florida
    WEBINARS: I can’t tell you how many invites I get on a weekly basis to attend a webinar. I choose one webinar per week and always learn something new. Here’s one of my favorites:
    Jay Berkowitz – Ten Golden Rules
    The job market can take a toll on your psyche. Get out of the house. Exercise. Read a good book. Reconnect with friends and family who make you feel good about yourself. Your attitude is something you CAN control so find a way to help yourself through life’s little valleys because soon you’ll be looking back wistfully at all your “free” time.

  7. A little optimism might help. 🙂 What your talent is worth is up to the people who read you to decide.
    Don’t rush it.
    You need to find your Kung Fu.
    Cheer up man! Beautiful day ahead of you and dreams do come true.

  8. The aura of desperation can be seen in our words. All of what Mitch said are helpful, however if for example, you create a blog with the title:
    I Need a Job.
    I am Facing Foreclosure.
    Those aren’t going to cut it.

    I am going to expand on community in both the real sense and the virtual sense.
    There are people out there that have needs.
    These needs have to be met.
    There are things out there that need fixing.
    I don’t care if it’s as simple as a lightbulb on your street, or Mrs. Walker over there needs to walk her dog.
    Be of service to others.
    Be of service to others.
    Don’t come out with your palm facing upwards.
    Come out with a hand that is ready to assist others without any financial renumeration.
    Come on, it’s just a 1 page document. Do it and smile. Don’t ask anything in return.
    You never know, who knows who and once word gets out that you are all about helping and finding solutions and not grabbing other people’s wallets, your bound to make something more important than money –

  9. I think if you add these four things (plus the others added here in the comments) into your life, it can’t help but make you work harder. It reminds of the old joke that if you’re out in the woods camping with friends and a bear comes to attack, I don’t have to run faster than the bear, I just have to run faster than you!

  10. I still say that LinkedIn will be the Social Media/Online Social Network “dark horse.” It has been around forever, makes good money and has all of the right “hooks” to stay relevant.

  11. It’s too bad that Blogs have come to the point where people expect perfect grammar and spelling. I miss the good old days when Blogs were more punk rock (heart/spirit) over Top 40 (clean/pure). I say bring on the spelling mistakes and grammar if it means that the content stirs the human condition.

  12. Rick, check out my friend, Chris Clarke. He’s become super-successful in the PR industry. He started back when he was in university with a Blog called, Student PR. It was all about what it was like to be a student in the PR industry and then an entry-level PR professional. His insights (and struggles) were pretty interesting. So much so that many of the key industry executives would pop in and give advice. Do you think he had a hard time finding that first gig like his student peers did come graduation? Blogging about what you know and how you see it is what’s relevant.
    I’d also add that you’re connected… that counts for something. Keep at it and keep growing!

  13. I love this stuff. I would add that if you have nowhere to be every day… go and find some place to be. Work from a cafe, bookstore, etc… choose a different space every day. Call some of the professors at the local university and ask if you can either audit or lead some kind of class conversation/presentation. Same goes for places like Toastmasters and beyond. Get active.

  14. I’m having weird deja vu. Didn’t you talk about spelling and grammar and the punk rock nature of blogs on the last Media Hacks? Or did this thread inspire that, and I’ve been time travelling again?

  15. Social Media, blogging and the online marke place is setting a whole new pace in our culture that is engaging us as a society to openly express our inner desires and share it with the world. Blogging is more engaging than the local newspaper, YouTube has surpassed TV and now jobs are being created online by the Entrepreneurial Spirit.
    Creativity is honored and respected in the market place which gives voice to anyone – anywhere, for this reason alone – I love new media. The power and potential is unlimited.
    Thanks for the post Mitch, it’s great to remind oneself that opportunity is always available!

  16. Great post, thanks Mitch.
    I think for the most part people are simply afraid of what others may think or say about them once their opinions are out there for the world to judge. It’s amazing how empowering publishing your thoughts can actually be.
    I think these steps you have listed apply not only to someone seeking a job but also to someone who is not getting what they want from their existing job.
    Empower yourself, take your career into your own hands, participate in and feed the conversation in your area of passion.

  17. Very timely, Mitch, given the number of articles I’ve seen that indicate employers are (stupidly) eliminating job candidates who aren’t already employed.
    IF you are publishing and reading, you’ll be relevant and searchable.
    IF you are leading and contributing to a community, you can even appear to be employed (even if there’s no money there.)

  18. Not only should we blog but we should take pains to leave meaningful, constructive comments on other blogs and / or engage in discussion groups on LinkedIn. The lively art of e-conversation also goes a long way to showing that a) you can be a critical thinker and that b) it’s not only about you – it’s about all of us.

  19. I complain about the unemployed who every day complain eloquently online about their plight. Respectfully and pointedly they seem to fit the title of “the morbidly unemployed.”
    I reach out too tentatively to help as part of my 20% pro bono work commitment. No longer is it fear of rejection. It’s more about conducting an intervention that calls for skills above my pay grade. Pitch in. What’s your success in helping those who don’t seem to want help and portray themselves as hopeless saying, “I don’t know why I can’t find a job?” Geez!

  20. :). Work, physical activity and purpose have a funny way to balance your hormones and avoid depression. The worst thing to do when you’re out of work is to stop working…
    This topic is very complex. And advices can easily feel patronizing.
    Not having a job is a great trigger towards self-actualization and self-relevancy. i.e. synchronizing inner values and competencies with your actions in the external world.
    However desperate people take desperate measures and telling them to slow down and metaphysically introspect won’t always work.
    Your post proposes specific techniques that will help many get in touch with their inner self and outer environment. And that is good. I guess part of the solution is not being alone (community) and working with some purpose.

  21. All four things are actions that I have been undertaking for the better part of the past year. And it has worked wonders. I am now spending time helping other professionals and businesses to follow these steps (as well as the many suggestions in your book) in order to help them achieve various business goals.

  22. This is a huge component to becoming knowable. It’s not just about bringing people to your spaces, as much as it is about becoming knowable in the existing community and building trust. If I were starting a Blog today, I’d spend four times as much time being on the existing communities and adding value there.

  23. I would also recommend that people look out for opportunities to help local businesses in exchange for goods or services. Maybe your favorite local hangout or your gym needs help but can’t afford to pay in cash. See if they will trade you what they offer in exchange for your services.

  24. Great article! I wonder, with respect to unemployment frustration, what are your thoughts on Occupy Wall Street?

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