Beware the Desperate Candidate

The longer they’re on the market, the more desperate downsized candidates become. As a result, they tend to be open to positions with lower base salaries and commissions and even less accountability – things they wouldn’t think twice about in more stable economic times.

While hiring managers may be tempted to snag a top-level sales professional at an entry level price, it is a decision that will come back to haunt when things return to normal. These candidates may be sincere in their desire to join a company and more likely than not to achieve sales goals, but they are also flight risks. As soon as the economy bounces back, so will their confidence, career goals, compensation expectations and everything else they sacrificed for the sake of feeding their families and paying their mortgages in today’s harsh economic climate.

Typically, desperate job search behaviors begin to emerge when candidates have been out of work for six months or longer. This is when many start feeling the financial heat. They begin “diversifying” their search and are happy to settle for less in exchange for a steady income. While they may not admit it to even themselves, these make-due positions are almost always temporary.

I am not saying that what desperate candidates are doing is bad. They are simply doing what is necessary to survive.

I am saying that hiring managers need to be aware of this trend. Don’t take every candidate at face value. Be objective and analyze their motivations for considering a position that is clearly beneath their skills and experience.

This allows you to gain a clear understanding of the candidate’s long-term prospects and lets you make the final decision based on who is best for the company rather than who is most in need of the job.

5 thoughts on “Beware the Desperate Candidate”

  1. Sounds good, but I have a deal for you. Change places with me and we will see if the sunny side of life always finds it’s way into your interview and search techniques. How about the hire that shows great loyalty and productivity because someone saw their true traits and snagged them from prugatory and found that they are not sniveling desperados but competant people who need a break! Get out on the streets and find out what’s really going on.

  2. The hire that shows great loyalty and productivity based on these traits you’re describing sounds great!

    I am cautioning what happens after people accept positions that are viewed temporary in the candidate’s view but perhaps long term in the employers view.


  3. Hi Kathleen,
    As a seasoned technical sales professional going on 7 months with out…I can attest to your assumption of desperation with a small caveat. None of us can predict the future. When the economy turns toward the positive, the companies who dinged their top performers will not find the fields ripe unto harvest.
    I would accept the premise that I may be over qualified for position A. The company will benefit from my skills during the time employed. There is not an implied duration of service for either party. If there were, we could establish said duration up front, but unless the employer is willing to guarantee some finite time, why would the employee be expected to stay forever? It’s a catch 22 of sorts.
    Currently I have completed many interviews with out closing the deal. There are as many reasons why as there are interviews. I only hope that my skills can be put to good use soon. The mental side of unemployment is not pretty. We must be diligent, open, honest and thoughtful…the character of the individual is discernable by even the rookie interviewer. My resolve is to be ever vigilant, even in the face of dropping credit scores and stressed family members. To be sure, I haven’t turned down an offer yet, but I’d love to be in a position to do so!

  4. Wes.. keep plugging! Your diligence will pay off!

    Again, you are obviously one of those key players who would be dedicated and stay after the economy changes. Unfortunatley many don’t! I hope we have your resume for consideration!


  5. “I am cautioning what happens after people accept positions that are viewed temporary in the candidate’s view but perhaps long term in the employers view.”

    These firms have access to the former and current employment data – least of all, their own pay history… Why would they even comtemplate that the “$200K” rep that they picked up for $75K is anything more than a short-term result of the current economic climate.

    There is no “caution” required – pay more, or plan on turnover…

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