I used to think entry-level positions would be my saving grace, but more entry-level jobs
are requiring at least three years of work experience to narrow the applicant pool.
Because entry-level positions are meant to provide experience, hiring managers must be more transparent in their language regarding experience requirements, and look for redeeming qualities, like internships or leadership positions instead of work experience, to prevent unfairly barring students from applying these jobs.
However, students should not be deterred from applying for jobs that ask for experience, because they could be hired, and will still get valuable practice applying for jobs.
When students see an entry-level position requesting that applicants have prior experience, it can intimidate students and deter them from applying, said Kelly Hart, the director of employer partnership at Temple’s Career Center.
Not all entry-level positions may see this as a requirement but as a recommendation. However, that unfortunately gets lost in translation when recent graduates look at the application, Hart said.
“Most students today look at that information very literally and feel that, well, ‘if I haven’t got three full years of experience, then I shouldn’t apply,’” Hart said. “There’s a gap between the perception that students have and the intention that employers are trying to convey with that information.”
Entry-level jobs are oftentimes an introductory role for those who are just entering the workforce, especially after recently graduating.
Employers hiring for entry-level jobs seek individuals with little or no prior experience in the field because entry-level jobs offer a solution to workplace inexperience by providing skills that can be used in future careers.
As of August 2021, employers are asking for at least three years of relevant work experience on 38 percent of their entry-level postings, according to LinkedIn.
To be able to use their degree for future job prospects, the jobs in their desired field ask for a master’s degree as well as experience, said Sinh Taylor, a senior English and gender, sexuality and women’s studies major.
“They want you to have like, ridiculous amounts of experience,” Taylor said. “I just graduated from school, how am I gonna have all this experience?”
For international students, finding a job in the United States is already competitive, and requesting experience from recent graduates makes it more difficult, said Linh Nyguyen, a freshman data science major from Hanoi, Vietnam.
“Most of the jobs that I did, just going through the requirements, most of them require one to two years of experiences,” Nyguyen said. “That’s impossible to new graduates.”
In December 2021, roughly 4.8 percent of recent college graduates were unemployed, according to Statista, a business data platform.
By requiring years of experience, hiring managers may prevent recent graduates from leveraging their degree to find a job in their field of study and could cause the unemployment rate among recent graduates to rise.
Rather than requesting years of real-world experience on entry-level applications, employers should instead be looking at a student’s experiences with internships and leadership because these activities show students are well rounded and have real-world skills.
In addition, students who’ve had internships should still be applying for entry-level positions despite these requirements because students accumulate experience through internships, on-campus employment, off-campus employment and experiential learning, Hart said.
“The majority of our students with that experience can absolutely sort of push that envelope and apply to opportunities,” Hart said. “If you do see an opportunity that says recent graduates, or indicates that they are open to seniors, or juniors, I would take years of experience with a bit of a grain of salt.”