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Face it; there are a lot of desperate job seekers out there. Are you one as well?

If you mass-mail your résumé, apply for positions you aren’t qualified for, apply to every position listed and use any opportunity to hand over a résumé at a networking event, well than you might have a big old ‘L’ on your forehead. Calm down, take a deep breath and check out this advice.

When recruiters interview candidates who can’t stop applying for any and every gig, they concluded that these job seekers just wanted a “job” and weren’t necessarily the right fit for the company. When employers are inundated with poor candidates, they simply change their approach by looking at candidates from other sources.

John McCrea, a partner at Bialla & Associates in Marin, says most companies don’t consider candidates who apply through Monster.com or their company’s website. “Most job seekers coming through these sources are a poor fit and are just looking for jobs,” he concludes.

So, as someone in transition, how do you change your approach so you don’t come across as a needy job seeker? How can you actively look for opportunities without appearing desperate? What’s the best way to seem like top talent?

It all depends on your strategy and presence. Here are a couple of tips to make you look less pathetic and more confident while you consider going forward:

Don’t take your résumé to networking events.

Networking events aren’t job fairs. For that matter, most résumés get shredded at job fairs, or recycled back at the company. Why? Because most résumés aren’t tailored to the unique needs of the employer. Even if you research which companies will be at the job fair, your résumé still can’t speak exactly to the needs of the hiring manager. Therefore, you should not take it to these events.

Grab the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s business card.

Instead of handing out résumés, take the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s business card and follow up with them after the event with a nice thank-you note. You remember how to write a thank you note, don’t you?

Don’t just apply to any position listed. While you must apply for job openings to receive unemployment benefits, don’t just apply to any position listed. Chances are you’ll come back to this company at a future date for a position that looks interesting. If you leave a negative mark on the company’s applicant tracking system, it will be hard to change that perception later.

Target companies that interest you, and build relationships with them.

If there are companies that you really care about, be careful about applying to them directly. Chances are high that your résumé will get lost in their applicant tracking system. Instead, focus on getting to know decision makers and current employees inside the company whom you can use for employee referrals. Also get to know past employees who can serve as referrals to their former colleagues at the company.

Don’t elevator pitch.

Recruiters, hiring managers, and especially other job seekers aren’t interested in hearing your objective, what you’re looking for, and how someone can help you. Job seekers make this mistake when they answer the question: “Tell me about you.” This is an ice-breaking question, not an invitation for an elevator pitch. When you’re elevator pitching, you’re missing a true opportunity to listen to the needs of the hiring manager and position yourself correctly.

Do build relationships.

Exchanging business cards isn’t building relationships; neither is talking to someone at a networking event. Building relationships requires careful listening skills and a genuine interest in getting to know the other person. When you do that correctly, you can find opportunities to become a resource to somebody else through referrals, connections, ideas, motivation and expertise. Once you become a resource to someone chances are they’ll reciprocate. If you become a resource to the right person at the right time, you will increase your odds of joining the lucky club of passive candidates who get back-to-back referrals for great job offers.

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