Have You Become a Discount Job Seeker?

Nancy Anderson
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If you've been a job seeker for a long time, it can be tempting to take even a low-paid job to bring your job hunt to an end. However, as well as the obvious disadvantage of having less money available, being prepared to accept a low salary can make you seem less appealing to employers. Take a look at the pitfalls of being a discount job seeker, and consider alternative routes back to full-time employment.

When you indicate to an employer that you're willing to take a salary below what's commonly offered for the kind of role you want, you signal that you're desperate to get back to work. That may be true, but it's probably not an impression that you want to convey during a job interview.

When you quote a very low expected salary, employers start to wonder why you think you're worth so little. Even if the truth is simply that you have urgent bills to pay or that you're experiencing a crisis of confidence, employers might wonder whether something in your past makes you a less desirable candidate. This suspicion can ultimately lead to the organization passing on you and choosing to hire a job seeker who demands a higher salary.

The other problem with marketing yourself as a discount job seeker is that you're unlikely to stay happy for long, even if you do find a job. When the immediate financial pressure of unemployment lifts and you realize that you're being underpaid for the skills and experience you have to offer, you're likely to feel resentful and start itching to move on to a more rewarding situation. Employers know this is a likely outcome of taking you on at a low salary, and it's one reason why pricing yourself at a discount isn't the best strategy for getting a job. No employer wants to go through the process of training an employee only for them to become dissatisfied and find another job.

If money is a real problem, you can take a "survival job" that pays a lower salary than you usually earn. However, you should think of the search for this kind of job as separate from your career-focused job hunt. Survival work includes positions at bars, restaurants, and retail stores, and these establishments are used to their employees making low wages and moving on quickly.

As a job seeker, it's easy to become discouraged and forget your true worth. When applying for jobs in your chosen field, stay strong, and ask for a salary that reflects your skills and experiences. Sooner or later, your search will pay off; you'll stop being a desperate job seeker and return once again to being a highly paid, confident professional.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. It sure can be tough to try to get a job at a lower position than your previous one. The reason they ask is because they figure that you are using them as a stepping stone and will leave as soon as the right position comes your way. They have a tough time understanding why you would go from a 6 figure salary to much less. So you just have to tell them, just like @Rodney S. did that, at this stage in your life, you are content with a position that offers better hours and a better work environment and that you will be content with the salary, also. @George B, sounds like you just might have to step out of the box and try for something different. Maybe you will be happier away from banking - away from the long hours and lots of evening work. You should really consider giving it a try. You truly might be happier.

  • Jill L.
    Jill L.

    Excellent article. I am frequently told that I am overqualified for just about everything I apply for. I made crazy stupid money in my last position and realize that won't happen again, so I cringe when I am forced to put in my previous salary. I have taken a part-time survival job and get comments about it all the time. I just say that I am not too proud and will do whatever needs to be done to pay the mortgage and feed the dog :)

  • George B.
    George B.

    I have been in this situation for the past 2 years, and till today I am not able to find job.
    I worked for 9 years as a Senior Financial Advisor and all my attemts failed becasue of my number of years.

    If trying to apply for a post in my same level they hire internally first. If I go with a lower post like Financial Advisor I get the answer as over qualified.

    When trying to go out if the box for a different domain, they ask me why willing to change after 9 years in banking.

  • Rodney S.
    Rodney S.

    Yes, this may be all true, but at this stage in my life I am taking a different career field job with much lower pay because I am tired of working 12 hour days and weekends. Money is not a big issue with me, I just want a better work schedule and weekends free. I want my life back and time to do the things that are important to me.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Kelly Clarke thanks for your comment. Certainly would be happy to assist you. You can connect with me via my Beyond account here.

  • Kelly Clarke
    Kelly Clarke

    I too, have had some very mixed experiences with staffing agencies. Though I love my people at KForce! @Nancy Anderson, I'd love to hear your take/possibly collaborate with you on a piece regarding, temp or "Contract" jobs as survival jobs.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Andrei K maybe it was just the wrong agency for you. Have you considered trying another agency? One that will put you first? What about a recruiter who specializes in your area of expertise? They might be more attuned to your needs than a temp agency as it's in the recruiters best interest to place you in a permanent position so that they can receive their full entitlement also. Just a thought. @Kenneth Lynch don't discount temp agencies totally. Some of them can get you in the door to a great position that you can work into a permanent gig. Just make sure that you read up on the agency first so that you know what to expect. It is best to concentrate on permanent positions but you still have to pay the bills. So maybe you could try a temp agency that specializes in your field? And make sure that you aren't straying too far from your specialty when you are doing temp work. All the best.

  • Andrei K.
    Andrei K.

    I fell into this pitfall with a staffing agency. Luckly it was a temporary assignment. Now I will focus in my job search

  • Kenneth Lynch
    Kenneth Lynch

    I'm out 4 months to make matters worse this is my 3rd time in 4 years. But this article reinforces that I need to keep focus.

  • Sue Mowbray
    Sue Mowbray

    Great reminder. Thank you.


    Thank you. I am in the same situation thinking of taking cut in salary or taking lower job. Thanks to this article which led me ro the correct parh.

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