Early Career: “Covering the High Cost of Experience Inflation” – February 21, 2019
Today’s college graduates are facing a pretty steep employment cliff.
Not only burdened by the weight of five- and sometimes six-figure student loan debt, many are finding that achievements in the classroom don’t necessarily translate to greater opportunity outside of it. In large part, that’s because employers are increasingly seeking experienced workers for what used to be considered entry-level jobs.
According to a study conducted TalentWorks, a global talent communications agency, as much as 61% of all full-time entry-level jobs require 3+ years of experience. More distressingly, there’s no plateau in sight. The same research effort identified a trend where the amount of experience required to get a job is increasing by 2.8% year after year.
That’s quite the shortfall.
Yet, the distance between your experience and the way it looks on your resume doesn’t have to be as great as it first appears. What you may lack in years of employment can potentially be accounted for in equal measure by descriptions of what you’ve done in terms of undergraduate activities, volunteerism, and freelance experience, among other considerations.
It also helps to get a professional grip on what you say and how you say it. Here are a few jumping off points that promise a much happier landing:
- Put yourself in “their” position. Keywords are king. So, read the descriptions of the jobs you’re interested in with great attention to detail and restate the most prominent terms within the body of your resume. In most cases, the clues are fairly straightforward. Take them straight from the source and craft impact statements that reflect brightly on your capabilities for the role—apart from any perceived shortcoming.
- Windows of opportunity. Don’t rule out applying for a position just because you feel your experience is on the light side of any particular window. Recruiters and employers are generally adept at seeing through the skills you bring to the table. If you believe your experience is on the level, then by all means be ready to reach for what you believe in. It’s never the fall that kills, it’s only the sudden stop.
- Volunteer your information. According to LinkedIn research, 42 percent of hiring managers surveyed say they view volunteer experience as equivalent to formal work experience. That’s an encouraging statistic for those eager to make a difference on behalf of others; and in turn, gives job seekers who do the heavy lifting a leg-up on more passive candidates who don’t.
- Be as good as the last thing you did. Then, the next thing comes easy, right? Well, by drawing on a wide range of freelance experiences and projects—paid or unpaid—you’ll put yourself on sound footing for future opportunities. At the very least, you’ll show prospective employers that you’re laying out a positive trajectory for personal and professional improvement.
The setback before the step forward. The bad news for college graduates, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research in a recent article on Forbes.com, is that underemployment of recent college graduates remains near an all-time high of around 45 percent. That’s a daunting number, but it’s not insurmountable.
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