Why Do Entry-Level Jobs Require Experience?

If you’re just starting out in your career, landing an entry-level position can be challenging. They often require extensive experience or training, which may seem like an awful lot to take on at first glance.

So, why do entry-level jobs require experience? We asked career experts to share their insights.

Irene McConnell

Irene McConnell

Managing Director, Arielle Executive

Employers want people who are trustworthy and have a history of showing up for work every day

If you’re hiring someone for an entry-level position who has never worked a day in their life, you need to commit several days or even weeks for their training.

Firstly, you need to cover pay and benefits for the new hire, plus the expense of someone qualified training the new employee. Hiring a person who has at least some experience saves you of all those expenses.

Employers want people who are trustworthy and have a history of showing up for work every day. Proven reliability and willingness to do work are big things.

It boosts the quality of applicants

Although there are lots of AI tools available for recruitment, not that many companies actually use these. This means that recruiters or hiring managers need to review every single CV that they receive. Imagine having tens of vacancies at a time – this must mean a lot of work!

Related: What Is the Purpose of a Cover Letter When Applying for a Job

Listing required work experience for entry-level jobs naturally reduces the number of applications to review and theoretically increases the quality of the candidate pool.

The company is hoping to recruit a skilled professional for the salary of a newbie

Although it is quite painful to say out loud, many employers just don’t want (or don’t have the necessary funds) to offer competitive salaries for experienced individuals.

They have a requirement of work experience for an entry-level position, but guess what? The company is actually hoping to recruit a skilled professional for the salary of a newbie.

It may also be a case of a limited payroll budget. Although the company cannot offer competitive compensation, they surely need top-notch specialists and are trying to “cover it up” with an entry-level position job ad.

Anjela Mangrum

Anjela Mangrum

President, Mangrum Career Solutions

It’s supposed to discourage irrelevant applicants

I’ve noticed plenty of job seekers apply to positions that aren’t remotely relevant, ‘taking a chance’ perhaps? For example, a journalism student fresh out of college once applied at my recruiting firm simply because she had written an article about recruitment.

To discourage such applicants, it’s necessary to add a list of requirements to make a job post look serious.

Hiring managers are fed up with resume exaggerations

Often, candidates tend to overstate their skills and qualifications. Exaggerating the work experience needed could be a hiring manager’s way of responding to that.

I always recommend fresh job seekers to overlook the experience requirements on entry-level jobs and take the plunge if they feel like they fit around 80% of the eligibility criteria – you might just get a callback.

It’s ideal but not necessary

Some employers like having experienced people work for them since they save them the time and trouble of extensive training. They think it doesn’t hurt to add in an experience preference, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to hiring fresh talent.

Experience includes internships and undergraduate projects

I wouldn’t recommend worrying too much about not having past jobs, especially if you’ve been an intern or a volunteer somewhere relevant or completed industry-related projects while getting your degree.

Listing an experience requirement in an entry-level job post could be a way of encouraging candidates to present everything they have worked on in the past – not necessarily a paid job.

It’s for experienced people but pays low

Besides the above reasons, sometimes, an experience requirement on an entry-level position is exactly that – they don’t need fresh grads. With the saturated job market, many employers are listing vacancies that require qualified candidates as entry-level ones, which means that they’re only willing to pay beginner rates to experienced people.

Instead of getting discouraged by this ongoing exploitation, I suggest fresh candidates apply to a maximum number of jobs with solid resumes and cover letters. It’s hard work that pays in the end!

Related: Does Hard Work Pay off in the End?

George Santos

George Santos

Director of Talent Delivery & Head of Marketing, 180 Engineering

Not wanting to train employees

One common reason why an entry-level job may have an experience requirement is because the business is unwilling or unable to train a new employee from scratch. In these instances, they are looking for someone who already knows how to work in a similar setting.

Specific software/skillset requirements

Some types of roles fundamentally rely on a specific skillset or familiarity with a specific software suite. For instance, an employer may be looking for someone who has demonstrated experience using certain bookkeeping software — even when trying to fill an entry-level position.

Due to market saturation

To be blunt, a key reason why we see businesses list experience as a requirement for jobs listed as being entry-level is due to employers having a lot more demand than employees in certain markets. Here, employees might be undercutting themselves by working entry-level jobs despite having a significant amount of experience.

As a consequence of this dynamic, businesses make this practice into a habit.

It’s a blanket requirement

Often, employers are not looking for candidates to tick every single requirement on a job listing. In these instances, professional experience is little more than a blanket requirement that goes out the window when the position is being filled by a candidate who meets other criteria.

In addition, I’ve seen many cases where not much thought is put into a job listing, and these requirements may even be leftovers from a template.

The requirement is more flexible than it seems

I would highly advise that candidates do still apply for entry-level positions regardless of the inclusion of an experience requirement. In many cases, this requirement is ignored in favor of education, qualifications, and even just general proof that you know how to work — such as volunteer positions or unrelated gigs.

In addition, even if the employer is initially committed to a work experience requirement, these requirements tend to relax as the job search drags on. At a certain point, they’ll usually start reaching out to the best candidates that did not specific requirements such as work experience.

Daren Nadav

Daren Nadav

CEO & Cofounder, Courseforme

It is quite fuming for fresh graduates to find entry-level jobs asking for experience. This leaves fresh graduates with very few jobs to apply for. How can a fresh graduate possibly have the experience that an entry-level job is looking for?

And if they are not supposed to apply for an entry-level job, then what should they do? Why do companies ask for experience in entry-level jobs?

To avoid a resume flood

If a company posts a job with no experience required, they will have their inbox flooded with resumes in a matter of days. So, if you think you have relevant internship experience, relevant freelance work done, or if you have done any relevant volunteer work, you should consider yourself a viable candidate and apply for the job.

The experience requirements for an entry-level job are usually very flexible, and they are looking for someone with the right knowledge and capabilities to do the job.

They are trying to keep people from applying for jobs who have absolutely no experience

The experience required for an entry-level job is usually a trick question. They are just trying to keep people from applying for jobs who have absolutely no experience. But on the other hand, they are considering such people for interviews too.

That’s because people with relevant experience in internships, fellowships, and volunteer work are also considered. Even if your college project works match the job description, the company could be interested in hiring you.

Companies are looking for more skilled employees which saves them the time of hiring

Nowadays, many people take on multiple internships, and that adds to their experience for an entry-level job. It is what differentiates a good candidate from a normal one.

Related: How Many Internships Should I Apply To?

Companies are now looking for more skilled employees who have done projects or have received basic training in the job they are applying for, which saves them the time of hiring and teaching an employee about the basics.

The market is always competing

Even if candidates feel left out, the truth is that the market grows and competes on a higher level with every passing year. Hence, companies need to put themselves out there and retain the best available employees for their organization to grow and expand rather than taking their chances on a person who needs to be nurtured and taught.

Lauri Kinkar

Lauri Kinkar

CEO, Messente

You may have found the perfect role in your ideal industry, the skills they are looking for in the job match your skills, and you are enthusiastic about applying for the role. Not until you learned that you need at least two years of experience, even if it’s an entry-level job.

What’s frustrating is that you don’t have the years of experience they are looking for because you are a recent graduate or changing your career. Why do companies do this, anyway?

It makes it easier for them to narrow down the applicants they think would be a great fit for the role

The answer is, they include at least two years of experience as a requirement to screen the candidates out. It makes it easier for them to narrow down the applicants that they think would be a great fit for the role.

If they did not have minimum experience as a requirement, they would be flooded with unqualified applicants. That could be a total waste of time.

In every industry, company, and job, what you call “entry-level” is pretty subjective

Another reason is that in every industry, company, and job, what you call “entry-level” is pretty subjective. Some industries require even interns to have some experience related to the industry; some don’t.

It’s a case-to-case basis.

But if you believe you can handle the job, don’t be afraid to apply for the job even if you don’t have the minimum years of experience required. Think of the 80-20 rule. If you meet 80% of the requirements, then, by all means, apply for the position.

Another thing you can do is to emphasize your strengths.

Include it in your cover letter and tell them what value you can bring to the company. Also, highlight relevant skills and transferable skills. You might have the attributes that are a perfect match for what the company is looking for.

Joni Holderman

Joni Holderman

Professional Resume Writer, Thrive! Resumes

Entry-level is just a label

Part of the answer is simply a structural problem with job boards like Indeed.com. These are excellent resources, but they have one drawback. They force employers to wedge jobs into one of three categories:

  • entry-level
  • mid-career
  • executive

So any job that requires less than 10 years of experience is being inaccurately labeled “entry-level” on job boards. A better label would be “early career.”

The MBA perspective

Tragically, hiring executives are trained in MBA programs that their company can attain a competitive edge by always hiring the best-qualified candidate for every job. Those same programs teach that the “best-qualified candidate” is likely someone who is doing that exact job for a competitor right now.

So executives are literally trained to believe that hiring someone with little on-the-job experience is a failure of leadership and recruiting.

Employers today don’t hire high-potential young graduates with the intention of training them

Employers today do not hire high-potential young graduates with the intention of training them to become great employees. Only the military and a few very specialized jobs like 911 dispatcher offer extensive training. (That’s partly because there’s no guaranteed return on investment. A company could spend $10,000 training a new worker, and the employee could quit the day after they finished the training.)

That leaves employees in a situation where they have to obtain all the qualifications for their career on their own time, at their own expense. This is a major driver of the student loan crisis — it’s basically workers footing the bill for basic job training.

Resume solutions

Every company wants to hire an “entry-level” candidate who has 3-5 years of experience and has already been trained by someone else.

Fortunately, there are several effective resume solutions to what is essentially a resume problem. Folks who worked — even part-time — during college are way ahead here. But experience doesn’t have to mean paid work or formal jobs.

  • Unpaid activities
  • School projects
  • Volunteer work
  • Freelance gigs

Related: How to Write a Resume as a Freelancer

All these things can also be ethically, legitimately reframed as work experience on the resume.

A great resume writer can reframe even high school activities like a dog walking business or a garage punk band as relevant work experience. The solution is to make it clear that you are the best-qualified candidate, even if you are also a recent graduate.

Edward Mellett

Edward Mellett

Founder, Wikijob.uk

Employers are very interested in longevity

High worker turnover is the most expensive and time-consuming aspect of running a business, and most employers will go to great lengths to avoid it. Looking at someone’s history is the simplest method to forecast their future, and here is where experience comes in.

Employers believe that if you’ve worked for them for a long time in a prior position, you’ll be more likely to remain with them, which is something they value.

Recruiting managers use experience as a criterion for selecting high-performing entry-level employees

For a variety of reasons, entry-level occupations need prior experience. Many recruiting managers use employment experience as a criterion for selecting high-performing entry-level employees. They want people who not only have the essential talents for the job but also know how to put them to use in the workplace.

Recruiters may include particular criteria for job experience as a technique to screen candidates and prevent those who aren’t qualified from applying. Entry-level individuals that understand the code of success are what we’re looking for.

You may show solid work habits via your past experience, whether that past experience is as a waiter or waitress, lifeguard, library assistance, retail, contact center, or any other kind of profession. You arrive on time, properly dressed, and stay until the end of your shift. You’re used to dealing with consumers face to face or over the phone, and you can learn to follow orders. An employer does not want to hire you for the first time.

All of those experiences should be included in your CV and, if necessary, an application, along with details about what you learned and what you were responsible for.

Reflect on these experiences so that you can confidently discuss:

  • What you learned
  • The level of responsibility you were given
  • Why all of these skills will help you become a successful new employee for these organizations (even if your previous responsibilities were in academic settings, as part of a work-study job, or as a volunteer commitment)

Catherine Cooke

Catherine Cooke

Founder, Upskillwise

The job market is more competitive now than ever

Something that a lot of job applicants forget is that what’s considered “entry-level” isn’t the same for every environment. Technical fields like IT and investments have entry-level positions, but they still require industry experience and know-how.

The other reason is that companies obviously want to hire the best person for the job. The job market is more competitive now than ever; more people have specialized degrees, which makes narrowing the pool of best applicants more strict.

As frustrating as it may be, someone who’s applying to an entry-level job with two or three years of experience is going to make a better impression than someone straight out of college or high school. Because of this highly competitive nature, businesses can get away with requiring experience for entry-level jobs: they know that they will get the applications.

The solution?

If you don’t have work experience and you’re trying to get hired, it can seem like an impossible task. How are you supposed to get two years of industry work when no one is willing to hire you? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to spruce up your resume to make a better impression.

Volunteer work is an excellent way of beefing up your CV. Try and find a skills-based project.

While it might be nice to spend time socializing animals at a shelter, it doesn’t show an ability to prospective employers. For example, if you’re trying to find an accounting job, volunteer your skills as a bookkeeper to an NGO.

There are plenty of opportunities to flex your abilities at volunteer work; you just need to find your niche.

If your skills aren’t applicable to a volunteer organization, find some other community where you can work. There are plenty of special interest social clubs and communities, libraries, sports clubs, programmer roundtables, etc., where you can find a chance to develop your skills.

Magda Zurawska

Magda Zurawska

HR Specialist, ResumeLab

Organizations look to separate the “pretenders from the contenders” by raising the bar

For starters, the requirement serves as a way to narrow down the applicant pool. There are usually a ton of irrelevant or underqualified applications as it is, so organizations don’t want to further open the floodgates by stating that “no experience” is needed. This only increases the volume of spammy and low-quality applications.

On the contrary, organizations look to separate the “pretenders from the contenders” by raising the bar.

Furthermore, entry-level jobs require previous experience because companies want to see that the applicant already brings at least partially developed skills and capabilities to the table. That is why a candidate simply cannot afford to rest on laurels and should have at least a couple of internships under their belt.

This proves that they’re familiar with the corporate environment, have applied their knowledge in practice, and bring tangible capabilities for the potential employer.

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, this is all the more crucial because there are a lot of candidates vying for these spots.

Thus, it’s absolutely imperative that an applicant has this advantage and can proudly state: “I’ve already done this, so you don’t have to train me from scratch.” In turn, this is music to the hiring manager’s ears as they get to save time and money and integrate the candidate much faster into the team.

Melina Theodorou

Melina Theodorou

Associate Editor, CareerAddict

Employers want to hire professionals who have the skills to execute a role

Entry-level jobs allow job seekers who are just taking their first career steps to break into their chosen industry. However, it’s often the case that employers seek entry-level job candidates with at least two years of experience under their belt.

The reason behind this is that employers want to hire professionals who have the skills to execute a role and the ability to apply said skills within a work setting.

This also means that the candidate will be able to acclimate within the role and company faster, whereas someone without experience would require further training and time before they can start executing their duties autonomously.

A lot of companies are willing to invest in new talent and thus specifically recruit entry-level professionals who have no previous experience. However, others may be seeking an individual who, although is at an entry-level stage, can start working on their tasks from the get-go.

An organization that often receives a large volume of applications for a single, entry-level role may also include the two-year experience benchmark to minimize application numbers and discourage underqualified candidates from applying.

That said, even if a company states that candidates must have the experience to qualify for an entry-level role, it shouldn’t stop you from sending in your application – that is, if you meet all their other stated requirements.

At the end of the day, a candidate who has clearly outlined their objectives and skills along with their passion for the job could stand out more than someone who, although they may have the required experience, has not marketed themselves successfully within their own application.

Marissa Letendre, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Marissa Letendre

Senior HR Leader and Resume Expert | Writer, My Resume Seed

Employers do this in hopes of finding candidates that have skills that can be directly applied to the role

Many companies are requiring 1-2 years (or more) of experience on jobs
that are marked “entry-level.” Employers do this in hopes of finding candidates that have skills that can be directly applied to the role through previous work experience.

This may include candidates looking to change careers with transferrable skills or those willing to take a temporary step down if they feel like they’d be able to grow with the company. Other companies will request experience in entry-level jobs in hopes of getting candidates that have experience in that space.

Companies with a strong reputation as a top employer are more likely to
succeed when doing this.

Any candidate can use this to their advantage – even those without relevant experience. If a candidate is right out of college, they should highlight any volunteer work, side jobs, or groups they were involved in and the transferrable skills they learned through those experiences.

It’s also important to include a summary at the top of their resume, which highlights those transferrable skills and how they could be applied to what the employer is seeking.

For example: If the company is looking for an entry-level sales representative and a candidate was a recruiter for their Sorority or Fraternity, highlight those skills. Alternatively, if the candidate has experience in a customer service position, highlight the experience gained from working with the public and successfully working through challenging situations.

Volunteer experience is also great to include on your resume, as it will show your commitment to the community, and the skills gained through volunteering can be applied in many jobs.

Eden Cheng

Eden Cheng

Marketing Director and Founder, WeInvoice

Employers are not looking to train new workers

Most employers are not eager to train workers from scratch on how to carry out a certain process or task. They usually want someone who can work unaided from the start, and the easiest way to make sure that happens is to locate someone who has a similar level of experience doing that same job.

Longevity is enticing to many employers

One of the most frustrating things for any employer to have to deal with is a high turnover rate as it not only costs money to replace the worker in question, but it also wastes a lot of time looking for new candidates.

In this respect, employers happen to believe that if you stayed in a previous and similar job role for a long time, then you will likely end up staying with them for an extended period of time as well, which is something very appealing to them.

Specific job requirements

Some jobs may require employees to be able to use certain software programs or machines that most people aren’t qualified or able to learn how to use in a short amount of time as even the fastest learner may end up taking a couple of months before they can get up to speed.

This can often be an inconvenience that many employers are looking to avoid, and in all honesty, it actually does make sense in such cases.

Nathan Murphy

Nathan Murphy

Owner and Co-founder, QuizBreaker

Employers don’t want workers that completely lack skills

Hiring and training new employees is a costly investment of both time, energy, and money for any business, so it’s important for employers to know that potential hires have at least a basic subset of skills and proficiencies when it comes to:

  • Learning
  • Communicating
  • Interacting socially
  • Working well with others

These skills come with experience, which is why even for entry-level positions, it’s typically required to have at least some type of work history, even if it’s not necessarily paid work. This can be anything from volunteer duty to short-term gigs or membership in a school organization.

Whatever you put down, it will show to employers you’re a capable potential employee with the fundamental skills needed to be trained and be successful on the job.

Magda Klimkiewicz

Magda Klimkiewicz

HR Business Partner, Zety

Companies want someone with tangible work experience because they don’t want to take chances

Most companies want someone with tangible work experience, even if it’s for an entry-level position, because they don’t want to take chances. Instead, they want to have someone on board with the necessary hard and soft skills required to excel in the role and know a thing or two about the industry.

With that being said, if you’re fresh out of school and you lack experience, there are few things you can do:

  • Turbocharge your resume through internships

A great way to turbocharge your resume with relevant work experience is to do an internship in your desired field. Most internships today are paid, so you won’t struggle too much with your bills.

Related: How to Get an Internship

  • Look into side gigs or freelance work

Alternatively, look into side gigs or freelance work on platforms like Fiverr. Both will help you gain a nice blend of skills you can later showcase on your resume.

Thomas J. Brock, CFA, CPA

Thomas Brock

Financial Professional | Expert and Advisor, Best Small Business Loans

The balance of supply and demand can impact anything

An entry-level job is loosely defined as one that does not require previous work experience and is often designed to facilitate advancement to more demanding and higher-paying opportunities. In professional settings, these jobs are often structured for recent graduates of a pertinent discipline (i.e., accounting, engineering, human resources, etc.).

They may require some on-the-job training and/or milestone achievements, but experience is not a prerequisite – at least not superficially. Unfortunately, since the Great Recession, entry-level doesn’t always seem to mean “no experience required.”

You see, a technical imbalance between labor supply and demand changed the dynamic. Following the recession, the pool of labor far exceeded its demand, given the deeply impaired economic conditions. This resulted in a buyer’s market, where employers had the opportunity to be highly selective in filling open positions, especially in certain sectors/industries.

The result was an escalation of job requirements across the spectrum, whether formally stated or informally embraced.

For example, positions that previously required (or desired) 3+ years of experience now called for 6+ years. A job that required an undergraduate degree plus a certain amount experience now called for a master’s degree plus even more experience. At the bottom of the professional spectrum, entry-level positions now called for some real-world experience.

The aforementioned dynamic has largely reversed itself in the wake of a prolonged economic expansion (despite COVID-19) and a rapidly retiring baby boomer generation. Nevertheless, anyone still working would be wise to take heed of the labor market changes we’ve experienced since 2007.

Quite simply, the balance of supply and demand can impact anything, even job experience requirements.

Shannon Walker

Shannon Walker

President, WhistleBlower Security

Recruiters usually utilize this benchmark to rule out some candidates

It can be incredibly frustrating when applying for jobs out of school or switching career paths, especially when there’s no experience attached to the resume.

Job descriptions are essentially an employer’s wishlist for their ideal candidate to fit this role. If the applicant meets about 80% of the job requirements, it is an excellent indicator to apply for that specific position.

The number of years in the field indicates the amount of expertise a candidate should have.

Recruiters usually utilize this benchmark to rule out some candidates if they have a larger pool of applicants. Suppose the amount of relevant experience is lacking. In that case, some tips to make an application stand out are to write out transferable skills from previous employment, school projects, volunteer work, internships, online training, etc.

As long as applicants focus on the vital, relevant skills that pertain to the job description, they do not necessarily need to check off every box in the criteria. Employers are more than happy to see the drive and interest in learning more about the industry rather than meeting all the job requirements.

Wesley Exon

Wesley Exon

Founder and CEO, Best Value Schools

It helps to filter out at least some truly unqualified candidates

When hiring new employees for our company, we look for any type of work experience, including internships or self-started entrepreneurial projects. Here are two reasons why entry-level jobs require experience:

The definition of entry-level varies

The definition of entry-level often depends on the type of job, industry, or company. An entry-level job in the IT field will require more knowledge than an entry-level job working in Retail, which is why the IT job might ask for experience.

Putting an experience requirement helps to filter out at least some truly unqualified candidates

Putting an experience requirement can help dissuade people who are absolutely not qualified for the job from applying, reducing the overall number of applications for a job that HR needs to sort through.

Jack Altmen

Jack Altmen

Manager of Talent Delivery, Think Orion

This is to filter out all the unnecessary applicants from the list of applications

More is always better, a consumer choice theory used in economics. A lot of hiring managers choose to list jobs with experience as a way to only hunt high-performing candidates, even for entry-level jobs. This is usually done to filter out all the unnecessary applicants from the list of applications.

One way to overcome this barrier is to build your resume with skill-based volunteer work and internships before you graduate.

This is an easy way for you to stand out from the crowd and overcome the barrier. These days you can easily learn a lot of skills online using Udemy, Coursera, and others to land skill-based volunteer work.

Kate Gross

Kate Gross

Entrepreneur & Professional Photographer, Fix the Photo

They want to screen the applicant pool

Recruiters usually put an experience requirement for entry-level for several reasons. The most basic reason is that they want to screen the applicant pool. If they were to put up a job posting with no experience requirement, they would be flooded with applications. These applications would vary from fresh graduates to non-graduates.

In order to screen out unqualified applicants who do not have relevant industry knowledge, this requirement is put up.

They want candidates who already possess industry knowledge

Managers don’t want new employees that have to be trained in how the industry works. They want candidates who already possess industry knowledge, have the necessary skills, and know-how to apply them in their work. Having an experience requirement removes candidates from the applicant pool that aren’t fit for the job.

Oftentimes, the experience requirement isn’t limited to a specific industry.

Managers prefer candidates that have worked in an office previously, even if it was in another industry. Employees like these adjust to new environments quickly, know how to follow directions, and communicate well. Having an experience requirement for entry-level positions ensures only applicants who are the right fit pass through.

James Rice

James Rice

Head of SEO, Picked

If you are asking for experience, your job is not entry-level

I’m going to take a definite side on this: No (or almost no) entry-level jobs require experience – and if you are asking for experience, your job is not entry-level.

Employers can get fixated on experience, but they are completely missing the point in the case of starter jobs.

  • Hire for attitude
  • Hire for soft skills
  • Hire for the obvious passion

Don’t hire for experience.

Entry-level jobs are a trade-off: you will be paying them a salary on the bottom rung at your company (precisely because they don’t have experience) and what makes up for this is that you will invest in them.

You’ll train them in skills, make them familiar with the industry, show them how they can get to the next step on their career path.

We recently hired some juniors into the SEO team here, and I made it clear that we had to state “no experience necessary” and that we really meant that. Those who applied with experience were actually at a disadvantage.

Nikita Chen

Nikita Chen

Founder & CEO, LegitGrails

The requirement forces the candidate to think if they’re passionate about the role they’re applying for

When I started looking for an entry job after University, I was discouraged by the amount of experience required. A few years later, I am now a business owner posting job adverts looking for the exact same thing — a minimum of two years of experience for an entry role.

Why? Experience is not necessarily measured in the form of internships, traineeships, or previous roles. The requirement forces the candidate to think if the role they are applying for is something they are truly passionate about.

For example, a social media manager in a specific industry may have already spent years posting from his personal account, getting a good “grip” of the niche he will be working for. He is in his element and can thus grow within the role. He will mention this in his application, which will get him the interview.

When you love what you do, you teach yourself. When you don’t love what you do, others have to teach you.

And unfortunately, the grand majority of entry-level applicants are willing to take up any job that pays the bills instead of seeking out a job they are meant to do in the first place. They have no genuine interest in the role, and hiring them would negatively affect our performance.

Hence, experience simply reflects the interest and self-education a candidate has, which reflects in their confidence during interviews.

Joe Wilson

Joe Wilson

Senior Career Advisor, MintResume

Recent graduates or people starting their careers often look at a job ad and see that experience is needed and don’t apply. Sometimes experience in that particular field is asked for, and this is difficult if you have none.

However, more often than not, employers are happy with the experience that is transferable.

For example, if you are going for a job in customer service and they ask for customer service experience. If you have retail experience, you can draw on this, or even experience running an event for your school, fundraising, helping out on a stall at a school fate, or anything that is public-facing.

You may be going for a technical role and be asked for experience. If you have no paid experience, draw on personal projects, school projects, etc. Have you ever built an app or fixed a friend’s computer? This is all experience.

Dana Case

Dana Case

Director of Operations, MyCorporation.com

It help to be familiar with certain programs and possess an attitude that is willing to learn more

Every entry-level job is meant to prepare its employee to grow within that role. They will gradually move on to more associate, mid-management, and senior roles in that position or line of work.

As such, the entry-level role is meant to act as the foundation for the position. Part of that foundation means learning and grasping certain skills and preferred expertise with various software platforms, ranging from Microsoft Suite to Google Workspace (formerly G Suite).

I do not necessarily think an entry-level role requires years of experience, nor do I think employers seek employees for entry-level positions with years of experience working with these platforms.

However, it does help to be somewhat familiar with these programs and possess an attitude that is ready and willing to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Apply for Jobs Even if I Don’t Meet All the Qualifications?

Yes, you should definitely apply for jobs even if you don’t meet all the qualifications. Here’s why:

• Job postings often include a wish list of qualifications rather than strict requirements. Employers may be willing to consider applicants who only meet some qualifications as long as they have the most important ones.

• You may have transferable skills or experience that can compensate for the lack of specific qualifications. For example, if the job requires experience with a particular software program but you don’t have it, you may be able to highlight your experience with similar programs or your ability to learn new software quickly.

Applying for jobs you aren’t 100% qualified for can be a great way to gain job search experience. You’ll learn how to customize your resume and cover letter, interview, and reach out to potential employers.

That said, being realistic about your chances of landing a job is important. Suppose you don’t meet several key qualifications. In that case, you may have a more challenging time convincing employers that you’re the right candidate for the job. But if you don’t apply at all, you’re guaranteed not to get the job. So it’s always worth giving it a try.

What Opportunities Are There to Gain Experience Outside of Traditional Jobs?

There are many ways to get experience outside of traditional jobs. Here are a few ideas:

Freelance work or consulting: If you have skills that are in demand, you may be able to offer your services as a freelancer or consultant. This gives you the opportunity to work on projects and gain experience in your field, even if you don’t have a traditional job.

Start a side hustle: You could start your own business or take a side gig if you’re entrepreneurial. This can give you valuable experience in marketing, sales, and management that you can use in many different careers.

Take classes or courses: If you’re interested in a particular field, you may want to take courses to gain knowledge and skills. This will show potential employers that you’re serious about your career and are willing to invest time and money to expand your knowledge.

Volunteer: Many organizations are looking for volunteers, which can be a great way to gain experience and make connections. Look for volunteer opportunities in your field or in areas where you can gain skills that will be useful to you.

Build a portfolio: If you’re interested in a creative field, such as writing or design, you can build a portfolio of your work. This way, you can show potential employers what you can do, even if you don’t have much experience yet.

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