• Patrick Nielson


What you'll learn this post: Three ways that persistence sabotages your chance at the job.

Remember back in school how there was that one kid that you didn't really like but he seemed to follow you everywhere and try talk to you all the time?

That's you.

At least when you're looking for a job.

Quick story: Once upon a time, I had a friend who was looking for a job. He found one that he thought he would really enjoy so he applied. He was qualified and given an interview. He did well in the interview and shortly after emailed them to thank them. Over the next couple of weeks continued to reach out via phone or email to express his desire and enthusiasm to work there.

He didn’t get the job. The End.

A happy story right?

So why didn't he get the job? His "persistence" was annoying and likely seemed disrespectful to the potential employer.

Let’s cover three lessons we learn from pursuing jobs this way:

  1. Neediness is not attractive.

  2. People who are persistent are irritating.

  3. Your time is limited.

Neediness is not attractive

We all have that one person in our life that’s always asking us for favors. Now remember how you feel when you see their number calling you on the phone? Or when you see that they have sent you a text message? Is it is a feeling of excitement! You're just so happy to hear from them again! Not exactly. You dread that moment! You look at your phone and you wonder should I answer it or should I let it go to voicemail. People that are always asking something from you or always need your help for something get annoying. And with each consecutive request, your interest in that friendship decreases. At that point, you either decide the white knuckle it would be a good friend, or you decide to ignore them or give them excuses until they stop bothering you.

What about that other person you know the one that always wants to hang out. It seems like they're hitting you up all the time and whenever you do spend time with them they bring up the fact that they don't have any other friends. Why do you spend time with them? Is it because you admire them, you respect them, you want to be more like them because they are cool? Not a chance you do it because you have pity for them. You're trying to be nice to them and help them out. Now imagine this is someone of the opposite sex. Is that someone which would be attracted to and want to date?

When you don't have other options, or you act like you don't have other options your value immediately decreases in the eyes of others. It's true for friends, it's true for strangers, and it's true for potential employers. And no one is going to give you the job that you're applying for over other equally qualified candidates because they feel pity for you.

People who are persistent are irritating

Have you ever been around a small child always asking why? Maybe it's your child or a niece or nephew you, you know some kid that you like. Either way, they hit the stage where they are always asking why. They want to know how the world works apparently. They ask you why a few times and you're fine with it. But then they just keep asking why and the more they ask the more you start to get irritated. Until finally, you say I don't know, stop asking me these questions, or you just start ignoring them. If that's how you feel when someone you know and maybe even love keeps asking you questions over and over and over again then how is a potential employer going to feel when you do something similar to them, except in this case you barely even know them? Imagine that there are 10 candidates for a job. Now let's say each one follows up after the interview three times either via phone or email. If he’s nice that’s 30 responses he has to give in addition to the stress of trying to find the right candidate.

It's important to stand out and be remembered, but it is just as important to avoid irritating your potential employer.

Your time is limited

If we take the perspective of my friend then we should identify one or two jobs and put all of our efforts into landing one of those. What could be wrong with that technique? You could learn the company really well and rework your resume and interview skills to perfection in order to land it.

While those are good things steps to take, what you don't know when you apply is who the other candidates are for the job and what their qualifications are. You don't know whether the bosses son or niece is a candidate and will have preferential treatment. You don't know if they've really already selected the candidate they want to hire and or merely going through the hiring process for legal reasons. So the question arises, why spend all of your time and effort focused on the job that you may have no chance of getting?

The old adage of don't put all your eggs in one basket fits pretty nicely here. You have a limited amount of time to search for a job and if we take into account the fact that 70% of all positions that companies need to fill never get publicly listed then we can see that our time would be better placed searching for these unadvertised positions where the competition is lower.


Persistence in finding a job is valuable. The persistence to win one particular job is self-sabotage. Your energy would be much better spent finding jobs to apply for that aren’t publicly listed while at the same time improving your ability to sell yourself.


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© 2020 You Don't Need School LLC.