When it comes down to it, a huge part of job searching is confidence—the confidence to apply to the best positions, to network with anyone and everyone, to convey that you’re the best candidate, and to keep searching even when it seems like you’ve exhausted all your options.
But there can be a fine line between confidence and getting a little too aggressive—and if you cross that line, you can actually end up doing yourself (and your job search) a disservice.
Read on for four ways you may be behaving a bit too aggressively in your job search—and how to tone it down to achieve the right level of confidence to put your best foot forward and land the job.
1. Ignoring All the Networking Rules
We all know that networking is key to finding a great job. But when the job-searching times get tough, it’s easy for networking etiquette to go out the window. That could mass-requesting new connections on LinkedIn or attending networking events with the sole intention of handing out as many resumes as possible, instead of actually engaging in meaningful conversation.
No matter how desperate you are to land a job, networking takes time. And these aggressive, in-your-face approaches aren’t going to yield the best results. Good, productive networking takes time and nurturing—meaning that you should ask thoughtful questions, listen intently, and wait patiently for the right time to make your request.
2. Assuming Responsibility for Scheduling the Interview
There’s plenty of career advice out there that suggests that you shouldn’t leave the decision of whether you get an interview or not up to the hiring manager—but take charge at the end of your cover letter, by concluding with something like, “I will call you next week to arrange a date and time when I can come in for an interview.”
The thing is, once you submit your resume and cover letter, it’s not up to you to schedule the interview—it’s up to the hiring manager. And assuming that you can simply state that you will be calling and you will be setting up an interview is overstepping your boundaries as an applicant.
Is following up to make sure that your application was received OK? Of course. (Here are some tips for following up without being annoying.) But if you want to express your interest even further in your cover letter, stick with a safer, less salesy line, like, “I’d love a chance to speak with you further about the position.”
3. Stating—Instead of Showing—You’re the Best
Confidence is great. But if you’re not careful, it can translate into something not so appealing. Specifically, in a cover letter or interview, big, broad statements like “I’m the best candidate for the job” can actually turn employers off.
You may be absolutely convinced that you’re the perfect fit for the job—and you want the company to know that, too. But arrogant, assuming, and most importantly, generic statements don’t do that well.
The more effective way to get your point across is to not say that you’re the best candidate—but to show that you’re the best candidate, through anecdotes of your previous successes and accomplishments. You’ll come across as less pushy and more convincing—and that’s what’s going to help you land the job.
4. Ending an Interview With a Hard Sell
When an interview wraps up, the interviewer will likely ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” Eager to display their confidence and desire for the job, some applicants will come right out and ask, “So, do I have the job?”
According to Alison Green of Ask a Manager, ending the interview with this type of question can “turn off most interviewers, because it puts them on the spot and feels too aggressive. These tactics are too much like car salespeople who ask, ‘What do I need to do to get you into this car today?’”
The key to using this kind of question effectively, explains Lily Zhang, career development specialist, is to know your interviewer and know yourself. You have to be able to recognize if the interviewer would appreciate such a bold question—because for some hiring managers, it can be a question that commands respect and leaves behind a memorable, beneficial impression.
The bottom line: Defaulting to a hard-sell question in any and every interview can leave a bad taste in your interviewer’s mouth. But if you’re perceptive enough and manage to gain a good understanding of your interviewer’s personality—and determine he or she will appreciate the boldness—go for it.
Knowing when to tone it down can be key in job search success. You have to do what it takes, of course—but do it the right way, and you'll get much better results.