Title Card - The Great Experience Inflation

The Great Experience Inflation: Battling Job Description Expectations

We have all felt it before: the feeling of helplessness scrolling through endless pages of jobs asking for large amounts of experience that don’t seem to match the pay grade. All too often, the recruiters will hold fast to these expectations, turning away plenty of otherwise qualified candidates for positions they believe require more experience than is truly necessary. It can be frustrating to both sides when they can’t seem to find what they are looking for.

I have recently been in the shoes of many recent graduates who are trying to make their way in the world and are scrolling through those same endless numbers of pages that I have, seeing nothing but jobs that ask for 1 to 2 years of experience or more. Many of these jobs—from a number of different industries—claim to be “entry level”, and will often pay at rates that are very close to, if not minimum wage. As a writer, I found that this is all too common, and it was highly discouraging seeing that someone with little to no experience would seem to expect to be paid little more than minimum wage after a year or two of experience. That is, IF you somehow managed to find that experience!

Fortunately for me, I managed to find a company that agreed to take me on, and I am currently working in my field. However, when returning to the job search, I finally understood just how unrealistic it had been for the majority of these jobs to expect this level of experience. Having worked in the industry and making a point to return and reread these job descriptions, I began to realize that I very easily could have performed well in many, if not all of them had they chosen to take me on, or should I have decided not to pre-screen myself out of them without even trying to apply.

The thing is, it’s always hardest to realize your full potential when you have never worked in the field you are applying to. Entry-level applicants usually have the hardest time, because their confidence is at its lowest. They don’t have the experience to back up their skills, and without that experience, they don’t truly know if they are able to handle the demands of the workplace they are entering. Many entry-level applicants underestimate what they are capable of producing, simply because they were never given the opportunity to show their stuff.

Sometimes it takes a revelation like this to be able to look at the job boards objectively and understand what a position truly requires. In reality, you should feel confident in your skills, and should be able to tell many of these companies with your newfound confidence why you are certain you can do their work. All you really have to do is impress a hiring manager enough to “break the rules” and ignore the experience requirements. Truthfully, they likely didn’t know what they wanted in the first place, and are more than likely willing to hire a candidate who impresses rather than someone who fits the job description exactly.

To recruiters, I would implore you to think about what you truly need in the position you are trying to fill. Ask yourself: does what I am asking for make sense? Would someone with 1 to 2 years of experience really be looking for minimum wage? Would someone with more experience than that be really looking for only a mild pay increase from there? And what are the expectations of someone who has the experience that you are asking for? Does it match your job description? Chances are, if you’re writing “entry-level” and “1 to 2 years of experience” in the same job description, you may need to rethink your approach.

To all those still fighting to find their first job, keep fighting. Your skills are valuable, and you qualify for more positions than hiring managers would initially make you believe, all you have to do is convince them. Be assertive, and show them that you are worth their time and money.

Be confident in yourself, and others will be confident in you.