Experience and Entry Level Jobs

Posted by Yuko Miyawaki on Mar 5, 2019 9:25:11 AM

“I found this very cool job posting, and I meet all their requirements… except that they want someone with 1-3 years of experience in the field. Should I still apply or not?”

As a senior undergraduate myself, this is something I heard recently from one of my friends. Her main goal is to pursue graduate school, but she wants to have some real-life experience beforehand. But how is she to do this if she needs experience to have experience?

Many so called “entry-level jobs” demand 1-3 years of prior experience. This is strange: if they really are jobs for “entering” the professional world, it must mean that candidates have not entered the professional world yet, and yet, they are expected to have professional experience? I hope that I am not alone in finding this logic faulty.

Curious, I did a quick search on this, and many articles like this encourage people to apply anyway. Apparently, qualifications are an employer’s wishlist for the ideal candidate, but if you meet 80% of them (or even less) you are fine to apply.

OK, got it. If a job posting sounds interesting, candidates should apply whether or not they meet all the qualifications. However, having too many requirements on a job posting, especially on entry-level jobs may be hindering talent acquisition and causing a perceived “skills gap”.

First of all, having too many desired qualifications discourages those who do not meet all of the qualifications from applying. As in the case of my friend, she may be perfectly fit for the position if the employer decides to meet her in an interview, but the fact that the posting demanded prior experience hindered her from giving it a shot. Secondly, even if candidates do apply without meeting all the qualifications, recent resume screening technology may automatically screen these out. Because of this, employers would need to wait until the “perfect match” to their “wishlist” comes along, resulting in fewer choices, long openings, and a perceived “skills gap”.

In a recent survey conducted by Shiru, many undergraduates expressed their concern for their lack of experience. While many students do engage in internships for experience during their school years, there are many who find this difficult: for example, athletes or those who need to work to support themselves economically may not find time for unpaid or time-consuming internships. Even getting an internship itself is very competitive and somehow “requires experience” (experience to get experience, to get experience?? Does this never end?) and finding a program that would be relevant to the future goal is tough.

In college, we are constantly encouraged to challenge and expose ourselves to various experiences. Yet, when it comes to entering the real-world, we are expected to have certain skills and experiences that are only relevant to particular careers. Students who have dedicated themselves to various school activities find in dismay that their experiences “don’t really count”.

So, what should be done? From a student perspective, I would like to simply say that entry-level jobs should not expect prior job experience. Instead, there should be more focus on training people once they get the position. As one of the students in our survey said,

“We are learning as we go. We might make mistakes and are far from perfect but we’re learning.”

Why not give students a chance?

Topics: employment, skills, college graduates