Don't let your itch to land the job come off as desperation. Here's how.

“It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” – Henry David Thoreau

It's a fact of life that sometimes a job search can take longer than anticipated. The longer it takes, the easier it is to get anxious to hear, “You're hired!” It may be hard to do, but it's important to avoid coming across as desperate in your job search.  

Always take a moment to put yourself in the employer's shoes. How do you come across?

Here are a few of the most common desperation moves and some simple ways to spin them into an enthusiastic approach that employers will appreciate. When you really want it, use these tips to get the job.

Fanatical follow-up

You got the interview. Congrats! Now you can't wait to follow up and find out what they thought. But, too over-eager and aggressive comes off as desperate. Avoid these typical mistakes:

  • Emailing back within minutes of receiving any correspondence.

  • Calling or emailing repeatedly after an interview.

  • Sending extra emails to mention things missed in the application or interview.

Enthusiastic alternative: Who doesn't love a thank-you note? A quick thank-you note can set you apart from the competition by showing classic good manners and keep your name fresh in the interviewer's mind.

The best part? It's also a great opportunity to ask, “What is the expected timeline for your hiring process?”

While you wait to hear back, keep your job search in full gear by:

  • Continuing to search for jobs and putting your resume out there.

  • Checking for online classes that could help you bolster your resume. Some are free!

  • Researching the interviewing company a little further so you'll be ready to knock their socks off when they do call for that second interview.

Obnoxious overselling

When you are talking to a prospective employer, you'll want to bring out your business strengths, but you'll also want to employ some subtlety. Sending a follow-up email that declares, “15 Reasons Abigail is Perfect for Your Company!” doesn't come across as professional. Consider this tip for getting the job: if you act like you have no flaws, employers might just wonder what you're not telling them.

Enthusiastic alternative: Instead of aggressively pushing yourself on the employer, throw yourself into maximizing your resume and/or portfolio. An employer shouldn't need to hear you brag about yourself out loud. They should see it in your work. If you need guidance, hire a resume-writing service to help you out.

However, when you do get the interview, don't be afraid to talk confidently about some of your best successes from that resume or portfolio. Emphasize how that will translate into what you can do for their company.

Being overly agreeable

You want to be pleasant and agreeable when interviewing, right? If you say yes to everything, including things that may not fit your abilities at all, you are telling them that you'll do anything for the job. Consider this tip for getting the job and think carefully. Is an employer who doesn't respect the boundaries of the job description an employer you'll be happy working for in the long run? Probably not.

Enthusiastic alternative: Steer that conversation towards your strengths and don't promise to do things you aren't qualified to do or will hate doing consistently. Setting reasonable boundaries and expectations shows your professional integrity. Focus on how you will collaborate with them to make the business (and your career) grow.

The extra early bird

If being a little early for an interview is good, arriving an hour early must show super initiative, right?

No. Not at all.

If you show up too early for an interview, you're actually creating an uncomfortable situation for them. The employer may have a full schedule but feel obligated to cater to you once you arrive. They may not be ready to do the interview at all and if they leave you waiting, it can be one long, awkward hour for everybody involved.

Enthusiastic alternative: Plan on arriving 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled interview time. Plot out your route and leave with a little extra wiggle room in case of traffic or other complications.

If you do get there with time to spare, stay in your car and go over your notes for the interview so you'll have it all fresh in your mind.

Bungled body language

Your body language at an interview can say everything your mouth doesn't. If you're frantically clicking a pen or shifting in your seat, it shows that you are overly anxious. Eye contact? Yes, you want to make good eye contact, but it's not a stare-down. Keep the eye contact frequent, but intermittent.

Enthusiastic alternative: Your body language should show quiet confidence. Quick tip for getting the job: sit up straight, give a good handshake, and make periodic eye contact. A friendly smile can go a long way as well. If you've prepared for your interview, you should be able to walk into that interview with the confidence you need.

No questions asked

Every interview should have a moment when the interviewer asks the interviewee if she has any questions. If you reply, “No. Everything sounds great!” It doesn't show that you're easy to work with, as you may think, but that you're not fully prepared for the interview.

Related: 13 of the Best Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager During an Interview

Enthusiastic alternative: Do your research on the company and come up with a few smart questions to toss at them when the time comes. “What are the markers of success for this position?” “Will there be opportunities to participate in continuing education for my field?”

Good questions show that you've learned enough about the company to want to know more. Employers love that.

Remember, just as they are interviewing you to see if you're a good fit for the job, you need to know if this company is a good fit for you. When you're across that table, you don't want to focus on why you want or need the job, but on why you would be a good fit for the job. The person the interviewer sees should be informed, personable, and enthusiastic, but never desperate.

Need help practicing your interview skills? Consider working with a TopInterview coach. Learn more here.

Recommended Reading:

Interview Emergencies: How to Handle Them and Nail Your Interview

The Art of the Interview: From Fear to Fun

How to Use the STAR Interview Method Like a Pro

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