What Does an "Entry-Level" Position Really Mean?

You just had a valued manager retire, so you promoted another worker to fill their position, creating a chain reaction of promotions that left an entry-level position open. You posted the job ad but haven't had any applicants that meet your requirements, and therefore haven't even had an interview yet. It's frustrating, expensive and time-consuming to continue the candidate search for as long as you have. You wonder where all the good candidates are and if this head hunt will go on forever.

With the current talent shortage, many companies are struggling to find new talent to fill roles as Baby Boomers continue to retire and employees are promoted. While a talent shortage could be affecting your candidate search, there may be one big thing happening in your job ad that deters highly-qualified candidates from applying for your position: an experience requirement.

But Isn't Experience a Good Thing?

It can be tempting to ask for significant professional experience to cut down on training costs, but the reality is that people with three to five years of experience aren't going to be looking for an entry-level job anymore. On the flip side, the recent graduates that are looking at entry-level jobs, but will be deterred by jobs that require a few years of experience because they haven't had the opportunity to get it yet. This problem could also be magnified by the experience requirements you added to the job via an ATS, as it affects which bucket candidates end up in.

Take a moment to think about why you feel inclined to require experience for an entry-level job. Is it because the last employee was in the position for several years and you worry that your team's productivity will suffer? That's a valid concern and many people have it, however it's important to understand that it's nearly impossible to find a clone of the employee you just promoted. There is going to be a learning curve for the new employee no matter what, so expect to spend some time training them and helping them acclimate to their new position on the team.

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Here's a Better Way

Training costs are widely considered to be a wise investment. Instead of requiring several years of experience, think of ways you can entice entry-level employees to come to your company to gain several years of experience - or stay forever. Create opportunities for professional development and talk about them in your job ad. Job seekers who feel an employer will care about educational opportunities and professional growth are much more likely to apply for the position. Make it loud and clear that your company is a place employees come to grow and watch the applicants roll in.

References are crucial once you've adjusted your experience requirement. Often hiring less-experienced employees can seem like a risk, but asking for references from applicants can help you uncover valuable skills you weren't aware of. Look for references from college professors, bosses from jobs outside the field, and mentors from clubs or organizations they're a part of. These people will likely know your applicant well and be able to speak to their skills, work ethic and character, making your decision to hire just a little bit easier.

Having a "growth focus" isn't just an objective for the CFO. It's also a great mantra for managing people. Prepare your employees for a transition period as you search for the freshest face on the team so the new employee feels welcome and the team knows that clunky operations are only temporary. It's going to be an adjustment for everyone, which is to be expected, but managers can help set the tone for how that adjustment is perceived and handled. By understanding that the new employee will have to grow into their role, the team can embrace them and help them engage faster with their workplace. Your seasoned employees might learn from the new hire as well.

Managers all around America are tempted to ask for a few years of experience when looking to fill entry-level jobs, and at face value, it seems like a smart ask. But when you dig a little deeper, it's easy to see why an experience requirement might be the root of the "talent shortage" facing your company. Instead of focusing on new hires needing experience, switch your mindset to being the place where the workforce's freshest faces come to get experience and watch your company thrive.

The BirdDogHR Applicant Tracking System will help you shorten your time to hire for all open positions, from intern to CEO. Contact us today to schedule a demo and streamline your talent management processes.

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