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Here’s why entry-level jobs feel impossible to get

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Entry-level jobs are typically thought of as positions requiring little to no prior experience or skills. But it’s a longstanding gripe among job seekers on social media that job listings’ requirements are more ambitious.

“When you apply for an entry level marketing job and they ask for: 2+ years of experience, a degree, experiences in graphic design, SEO, copywriting and a viral TikTok account on the side,” one TikTok user offered as an example.

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“Companies listing ‘Masters preferred’ for entry level office positions,” posted another.

There’s truth to the meme.

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Almost half (42%) of employees said they felt excluded from job opportunities due to a lack of formal qualifications or experience, according to a 2023 report from TestGorilla. In a 2022 report from McKinsey & Company, the second-most-cited barrier to employment was a lack of experience, relevant skills, credentials or education.

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“There has been a shift over the past few years towards skills-based hiring, with employers far more concerned about employees’ experience and skills than even their degrees,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

That shows up in hiring trends. Less than 61% of human resources leaders said in 2023 that they are hiring for entry-level and less-specialized positions, down from 79% in 2022, according to a PwC survey.

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One of the biggest barriers at play is a gap in skills and training. But for many workers, getting training on the job has been tricky.

Employers are “not developing talent internally,” said Peter Cappelli, a professor of management with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “They’re looking outside to hire people rather than to promote them from within.”

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To build skills, job seekers could enroll in one of the growing number of “cheap, affordable, convenient and accessible online training programs, many of which have a large practical component,” Pollak suggests. Freelance work, or volunteer or internship experiences can also provide opportunities to gain credentials and experience.

Watch the video above to learn more about why job requirements have become increasingly demanding and how to prepare for the workforce.

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