I've received a bachelors degree in Applied Psychology about a year and a half ago and have been applying for jobs since.

I never really got invited for a job interview and when I did I was rejected due to a lack of experience. 'Starter positions' require a couple of years of experience. This is probably due to stagnating healthcare and decreasing government subsidies. Employers seem to prefer more experienced employees whom they don't have to train / have better references. Furthermore the market seems to be quite saturated; hearing (probably exaggerated) rumours of hundreds of responses per job offering.

Now I recently had a job interview and I have a pretty good feeling about it. There is a second interview which I feel I will be invited to. Though I'm not sure how to deal with my major disadvantageous position.

Clearly I don't really have a choice when it comes to negotiations about the position. I don't know how long away my next job interview is, let alone my next job. How can I overcome this? I feel I can only accept whatever they offer.

closed as off-topic by Jan Doggen, Dawny33, Lilienthal, Kent A., gnat Nov 9 '15 at 19:21

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I was once talking to someone about a new technology that reduced a project cost from $100k to $10k. The person asked me "you're a consultant, don't you want the $100k project?" I replied "sometimes, the difference between the $100k project and the $10k project is $90k. Sometimes, it's $10k." You see, if the client can't afford a $100k project, I won't get the gig. But if they can afford my $10k gig, I will get it. Wishing for (or trying to angle or scheme for) the big payday may leave me with nothing at all, and I might have preferred the small payday. The same thing applies to you.

You're worrying "how can I make sure they offer me $x not $y, how can I negotiate to get at least $x" while you're making ZERO right now. As you say, you don't have experience, and you clearly know that experience is a big advantage. If you land the job, you will have income (as much as you want? Maybe, maybe not) and will be gaining experience. You will become more valuable every day as you prove yourself to be good at what you do, and as you learn on the job. Plus you will be getting money. Every day that you are unemployed you become less valuable because people worry there is something wrong with you.

Focus on getting the job. Do not risk the job trying to win the negotiation. Most companies aren't trying to hire people for half what they're worth - they know such people just leave as soon as they have experience. In the market you describe, if you try to demand a salary more than they want, they can just move on to the next great candidate in line. The only way to improve your leverage is to gain experience. That, more than money, is what these people are offering you. Listen carefully in the interview. If you take this job, and do it well for a year, will you be worth more in the job market a year from now? If so, taking the job is winning the negotiation no matter what salary they offer.

If they are willing to offer you the one thing you need most, don't risk it by demanding they also offer you more money than they appear to want to. If it turns out you are wildly underpaid, you can look at trying to get a new job later, when you have some experience and are more valuable.

This advice doesn't always apply; when jobs are not so thin on the ground, when the jobseeker hasn't spent 18 months seeking without success, I would suggest something different. But in the situation you're in, what you need is a job, not to fuss about whether your sundae has a cherry on the top of it or not.

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    If it turns out you are wildly underpaid, you can look at trying to get a new job later, when you have some experience and are more valuable. ...while you're gaining experience and getting wildly underpaid to look for said new job... which is better than where you are now - if the job is a good fit, take it. You can't worry AT ALL about negotiating until or unless you have something to negotiate with. Frankly, negotiating for salary on a first job is basically a non-sequitur -- maybe a little less so if you happen to have multiple offers. – Code Jockey Nov 9 '15 at 14:15
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    @domen Not necessarily. For my first job, I did negotiate about some wordings in the contract, but there was no negotiation about salary. Six months later I was earning 50% more. – kasperd Nov 9 '15 at 17:17
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    @domen: It's a very very common question to be asked in the UK. As far as I'm concerned, the correct answer is always along the lines of "I'm sorry, my contract of employment forbids me from disclosing confidential information." – Iain Galloway Nov 9 '15 at 18:11
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    Both of you, this really doesn't relate to my advice. Which is a better place to be in a year: "well I don't have a current salary, I haven't worked for 2.5 years" or "my current salary is [a number slightly less than I want] and one of the reasons I'm applying for this job is because that number is less than it should be now"? You are both trying to refine subtle distinctions to the second answer; I'm trying to avoid the first. – Kate Gregory Nov 9 '15 at 18:18
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    @domen the point is you can't bluff if the employer can just chose a different candidate. Unless you have something to offer that they want, then there is no negotiation to be had. If you need a job you might have to face reality and accept less than you want to avoid having nothing. While you are holding out for a good baseline job, someone else took a lower paid one and got experience and jumped ahead. – JamesRyan Nov 9 '15 at 18:50

Soldier on, lots of people are in your situation, you just need to stay focused and proactive about finding work, even do some volunteer work if you can for experience.

It's hard to negotiate from such a position so don't push too hard, it's only your first job, you can settle your worth as you gain work experience. So take what you can get within reason, and the next time (if you do) you apply for a job, presto, you have experience to go with the rest of your CV. Think of it as investing in your future and making an impression rather than desperation.

  • Yeah volunteer work definitely is a good source of experience, though I still need money for eating/rent/etc. I don't have time to do volunteer work because I'm too busy gaining experience at customer service in a hardware store :) There are even special 'work experience jobs' where you do the full thing for zero pay. – AmazingDreams Nov 9 '15 at 13:28
  • part time would suit you better I would think, what about other sort of work? You have survived this long, it doesn't have to be in the industry to help on a resume although that is ideal of course. The mere fact that someone has held down a job counts for something with some interviewers plus you'll be paid – Kilisi Nov 9 '15 at 13:38
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    -1 for volunteer work. The job offered here pays a lot better than volunteer work, and secondly the experience from this paid job will be valued a lot more than experience from volunteer work. Volunteer work is superior to no work at all, but the question here is about low-paid work. Schematic: no job < volunteer work < low-paid work < high-paid work. The question here is about the right side of that equation, this answer is about the left side. – MSalters Nov 9 '15 at 14:22
  • @MSalters what job offered? He has only gotten through one interview no one has offered the OP anything yet. I'm trying to give him strategies to make him more attractive to a future employer as well as some advice on how much to sell his work for. – Kilisi Nov 9 '15 at 19:17

They can see from your resume (I presume) that you don't have specific prior experience, but they have interviewed you once, and may be about to interview you again.

This means they are still considering you, and if you are the best candidate for the job, they will likely hire you.

Do you have some disadvantages? Maybe, but in this case, you don't need to be able to outrun the bear – just your travelling companion. In case the reference is obscure, it just means you need to be better than the other candidates they are considering, rather than completely flawless.

So you are missing something they would no doubt prefer in a candidate, but this doesn't necessarily matter, provided you bring something else that they want. Experience is good, but it is one of the few things that anyone can gain simply by turning up in the office day by day. So instead of focussing on things you can't change, think about what you can bring to the table.

Perhaps you are a great communicator, or a good problem solver, or speak an additional language, or are extremely persistent – witness the fact you haven't given up your job search despite the setbacks.

Yes, lack of experience will prevent you from being considered for some roles. And given two otherwise identical candidates, the one with more experience will likely be the one hired. So just make sure you aren't identical; there is something about you that makes you just a little bit better in some way, and perhaps that thing is the thing that will sway the interviewers into choosing you, provided they get to find out about it.

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