Tuesday, 9 October 2012

All employers want experience, but nobody wants to let you gain it

With few exceptions, even the most junior positions now require candidates to have no less than two years of experience.  If you enter a profession where serving an apprenticeship is a pre-requisite then it actually works in your favour, because nobody expects you to have worked before hiring you.

That was the case with me: I went straight into articles for Chartered Accountancy after completing my degree, because well, it's not negotiable.  With Chartered Accountancy you will not get an accreditation if you don't do your time.  (I didn't serve my full sentence.)

It can get frustrating if you are in the job market seeking a "normal" job where you are competing against people with more experience and equal qualifications to you.  Employers want experience, but how can you gain this experience if nobody gives it to you?   This conundrum is yours to solve, and most companies don't really care in today's environment, to be honest.  Graduate development has taken a back seat to hiring as few employees as possible and relentlessly cutting costs.  There's no time to hold a graduate's hand and develop them, at least not as much as before.

Companies can demand an over-qualified, excessively experienced person for a job and they get it.  A degree-holder is now the norm rather than the exception; supply of candidates outweighs demand from employers.  And with jobs moving offshore, increased automation plus a focus on cutting costs ad nauseam, an upturn in the economy is not going to remedy this imbalance of job-seekers and vacancies.

If you're newly graduated or about to complete your studies then it's time to put serious thought into employing yourself.  If you can land a job, fine, but even then don't expect a spectacular growth trajectory: employees are more a means to an end rather than "our most valuable asset."  All but the most qualified and skilled will be told to "Be grateful to have a job" when appraisal time arrives and they ask for a promotion.

Job or no job, you should funnel most of your energy and resources into furthering your own interests.  Start a business.  Invest your money.  Run your own consultancy.  Become independent.  It's not just going to be a nice thing to do; for millions it's going to be the only option they have.

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