What to Do When an Entry-Level Job Requires Three Years of Experience

How can you have experience when it’s your first job?

Applying to entry-level positions is strange. Some of them are less than great and don’t mention experience at all, and others are amazing, claim to be “great for recent grads!” and then ask for three years of experience. How can a recent graduate have three years of industry experience? The answer is complicated.

As noted by TalentWorks, after analyzing a random sample of 95,363 jobs, they “discovered that 61% of all full-time ‘entry-level’ jobs require three plus years of experience.”

And that’s not all; the study goes on to note that, “for entry-level jobs, the amount of work experience required to get a job has been steadily increasing at 2.8% per year.” That means in the next half-decade or so, recent grads will find entry-level jobs asking for around four years of experience.

So then, what is a recent grad supposed to do to get one of these mythical entry-level jobs? Let’s dig in.

  1. Start freelancing and interning early.

The only way to get experience before you graduate is to start working early. If you’re in a field that allows it, this can mean taking on freelance writing gigs in your spare time. Internships are also incredibly valuable to potential employers and count towards that three years of experience goals.

Another source of experience? Your work in professional organizations or on-campus activities. Showing that you have been a hard-working member of a team lets employers know you have passion and drive.

  1. Apply anyway.

Okay, so you interned for a few semesters and joined a few clubs. That doesn’t exactly equal three years of experience. But you should apply to entry-level positions anyway! Three is often an arbitrary number employers choose because that’s what other companies are asking for. If you know you meet the remaining job qualifications, send your application on in.

Of course, this is only advisable up to a certain point. If an employer is asking for 10 years of experience, you might not want to send in an application if you’re still in the less-than-three-years range. But then again, job search miracles can happen! Check your qualifications to see if you can handle the job description and make your decision from there.

  1. Spread Your Net Wider.

When you’re applying to jobs, some employers really will want that three years of experience. But others will be willing to settle depending on the job candidate. You want to find out which jobs are really entry-level, and which ones just say they’re entry-level to attract more job applicants.

Even though your dream job might say it’s entry-level, it might not be right for you at the moment. It’s going to sting but consider taking on a different job to gain experience before you can make it into that dream position.

Applying to entry-level positions can be an exercise in frustration, but if you follow these tips you just might find yourself in a job you love.

Have you ever struggled with applying to so-called entry-level jobs that required three years or more of experience? How did it go? Let us know in the comments section below!

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