Hello and WELCOME to PsychAssist. We receive lots of messages from Psychology Graduates asking how they could land their first Assistant Psychologist job? Often, they will say things like “I don’t have any AP experience” or “How do you get experience without having experience?” We know how stressful this can be so we thought we could lend a hand in this department. This is why we thought we’d give you some secret tips on how you can get an Assistant Psychologist job without having experience.
Just Graduated? Check out: 6 Jobs for A Psychology Graduate straight out of university?
Thinking of becoming an AP? Check out: So What do Assistant Psychologists Actually Do?
Can’t seem to get past the interviews? Check out: 7 Themes in any Assistant Psychologist Interview
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Ok, so probably one of the biggest misconceptions Psychology Graduates have is that NHS experience is somehow seen as better than other mental health services. This cannot be further from the truth however, this is still evident in the high levels of competition on NHS jobs. Have you ever thought about looking at other mental health services for assistant psychologist jobs? This is one way that you could get an Assistant Psychologist job with little experience as there are much lower levels of competition for these roles. I once saw an Assistant Psychologist job advertised for about 2 weeks with very little interest just because it was within the private sector (can you imagine the number of applicants that would have had if there was the NHS logo next to it?)There are loads of opportunities for AP roles within job sites like Indeed that don’t have many applicants which means less competition.
PsychAssist Tip: I used to type into Google “Psychology Jobs” followed by where I lived to find my potential next career moves. This worked so well as I would be able to see all the psychology jobs on websites like indeed which advertised both NHS vacancies and also private vacancies. This used to give me such an advantage on getting interviews as there was relatively little competition for these jobs.
“the trick is to not ASK for experience but to OFFER your services”
Another proven way to get Assistant Psychologist experience with no experience is to religiously email psychologists within your area to see if there is anything you can do to help them. Now, the trick here is to not ask for experience but to OFFER your services. I have seen this happen countless times where an eager psychology graduate will email a qualified psychologist and all they will do is ASK to shadow them. You have to understand that even by you shadowing a clinician, this takes a lot of work/planning and clinicians don’t want to feel like they are “babysitting” you. This is why it’s best to offer your services. Ask them if there is anything that you need them to do such as research or an audit.
This trick actually worked with one of the PsychAssist team (Kaz)who worked in an admin role within a trust. This position was purely tactical as he knew that he would have access to all the emails of every psychologist within the trust. After weeks of emailing clinicians offering his services, finally one of them got back in contact. This was the foot in the door he needed. Fast forward 6 months, he is now an Assistant Psychologist with a publication and lots of contacts within the psychology world. THIS CAN BE DONE!
PsychAssist Tip: Use LinkedIn to your advantage. Many psychologists are on this platform and are easily contactable via direct message. Now I must ask that you not hound them but merely offer your services. If they want you, they will make it happen.
“every Assistant Psychologist had to have their first AP post”
Now, this last point is if you have tried the first 2 and you’re still out of luck. Just remember that every Assistant Psychologist had to have their first AP post. They didn’t get this by some miracle or a glitch but at some point, they would have had to show that they had transferable skills. All this means is that you can demonstrate that you have learned some skills from different situations that you can apply to the service. I remember my first ever Assistant Psychologist interview, I spoke about how I used de-escalation techniques when I worked as a delivery driver at Pizza Hut. This had no mental health relevance however because I demonstrated that I could handle difficult situations in a psychologically friendly way, they gave me the job. All you need to do is to show them that you have the right personality and transferable skills for their service.
PsychAssist Tip: Stop trying to meet all of the job/person specifications with “clinically relevant” examples. Sometimes you can meet the requirements with “real life”experience such as my example of working in pizza hut. This also shows that you are human and have a life outside of the psychology world which is always a bonus.
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