What to do When Entry-Level Jobs Ask for Years of Industry Experience

By Mia Casey

It’s something we’ve all likely stumbled across before: ‘Entry-level Graduate role – 5 years’ of industry experience required’. This barrier imposed by certain sectors of recruitment not only stifles the job opportunities open to students graduating and looking for work in their industry, but also supports an outdated and often exploitative model whereby graduates are forced to consider roles that are not only below their skill level, but that also offer minimum pay (an unhelpful addition at the best of times, but especially for the many young people looking to branch out on their own for the first time).

In this sort of environment, it can be easy for students to become disillusioned with their industry, job prospects, and uni study itself, seeing many deciding to quit or change into less restrictive fields, encouraging these industries to stagnate as fewer are allowed access.

While the issue can often be put down to employers, the change to a more inclusive graduate work environment isn’t going to happen overnight, and students need to know how to navigate this setting. So what can they do to overcome these barriers and actually crack into their chosen field?

Get a handle on your skills

You need to have a strong understanding of the skills you’ve developed at uni, during your work experience, and throughout your life in general. This includes both soft skills and the technical skills you developed throughout your study. You need to be able to match these abilities with the field you want to be in, and present a convincing argument as for why you’d make an appropriate candidate regardless of your not meeting the many years of experience needed.

Get whatever experience you can

Getting some experience – even just for a few weeks at a time, or a stretch of a couple of months – can help you highlight which areas of work you’ve already mastered, and those you need to work on. It also gives you the added advantage of having an understanding of what sort of tasks would be required of you on a daily basis, so you can tailor your skills argument to best suit what employers will expect of you. It also adds industry experience to your resume, which is always helpful when trying to overcome the request for extended experience.

Apply anyway

Finally, it’s important that you don’t let the experience requirement stop you from applying for jobs in your industry. Sometime recruiters will still invite you to the next stage of recruitment if you present yourself well in your initial application, and the experience requirement may be waived if you appear to be a promising candidate. Some companies can even provide additional training, if you fulfil their other requirements.

 

If you’re passionate, you’ve done your homework, and you’ve built the skills needed then you have as good a chance as any as finding a job in your field. The more we talk about the divide between graduate abilities and the expectation of years’ of experience, the more likely it is that recruitment guidelines will change. In the meantime, you just need to build your resilience and keep persevering!

 

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

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Author: Mia Casey

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