he moment you step off the stage at graduation you are expected–by some generations–to have a six-figure salaried job waiting for you and a career already established. Unfortunately, as many college graduates know, it is not this easy. Between unrealistic job expectations and requirements and an economy that is anything but stable, young professionals find themselves searching for jobs in their field only to come up short.

Why do young professionals find themselves battling it out for a job that was once a simple stepping stone on their way to the top? This question is answered by a multitude of reasons, the main ones being impossible standards, cutthroat competition, and a decline in jobs as a whole. Below are some of the most prevalent reasons entry level jobs seem impossible, as well as how you can try to combat that.

A few reasons why entry level jobs are hard to land include:

  • Unrealistic requirements for entry level positions
  • An uprecedented number of qualified candidates in the job market
  • Internships becoming the new entry level job

We'll unpack all of these factors and more, so let's get started.

Unrealistic Requirements

According to LinkedIn, despite 3.8 million jobs being posted since December of 2017, many “entry-level” jobs require 3 years of relevant work experience. While industries such as software engineering and IT services frequently require at least three years of experience for entry-level jobs, even 10% of retail jobs require some kind of prior experience to even be considered for a sales job.

While entry-level jobs are intended to help those new to a field get familiar with the role they are expected to play in a company, it is becoming more and more common to see employers expecting a candidate to be familiar with the field they are in, as well as be prepared to stay in the position long term. With the rate of employees being promoted internally rising, keeping entry-level job positions filled with “qualified” individuals becomes harder. This in turn leaves less openings for recent grads to break into their field.

With the lack of internships available to young professionals, many college graduates–both recently graduated and those entering a job field for the first time–are struggling to find a foothold in the professional world. Not only does this stem from the fact that fewer and fewer companies are hiring interns for paid positions (making it both impractical and unappealing to college students), but also from the vast amount of applicants and potential employees.

To combat this, WayUp suggests if you find an entry-level job that you are not qualified for, apply anyway!  Just because you don’t have those three years a company is looking for will not automatically disqualify you for the job you are applying to.

Survival of the Fittest

Another reason that so many recent college graduates find it hard to get a foothold in the world of professionalism is that there are simply so many people flooding the job market that having enough jobs in a specific field seems almost impossible. With everyone looking for thefor the the same thing, employers have less time to go through applications, often singling out keywords that appeal to the job in question. This offers even less of an opportunity for those with less opportunities or a sparser CV.

With college graduates and existing professionals fighting tooth and nail for jobs in almost every field available, companies are becoming less and less willing to open jobs for those attempting to break into a field. This leads to higher competition, more stress, and the race to be the best.

With 4 million students graduating from universities every year, the competition to get the perfect job becomes more and more competitive. In a survival of the fittest environment like this, standing out becomes key in catching the eye of potential future employers. Although the idea that the more education you have, the easier it is for you to find a job is appealing, it is also drastically unrealistic.

With a 7 to 1 ratio of potential employees to available jobs, having a bachelor's degree in a specialized field is no longer something that sets you apart from the crowd. With universities adding certification programs, it seems like there is always someone more qualified for the job. While this can be discouraging, it can also serve as a motivator to go back to school to add a certificate or postgraduatepost-graduate program. This, in an effort to gaintogain a leg up on others, sometimes means that getting into your field maymaay be delayed even further thanthat what you may have originally expected.

To make yourself stand out, consider adding a pop of color to your résumé or highlighting transferable skills from jobs you’ve had in the past. By showcasing your flexibility and unique attributes, standing out in a crowd of money becomes a bit less impossible. This helps you stand apart from the crowd, especially if you highlight certain skills that are job specific. Many jobs have skills that can be used in a variety of ways. It’s all about how youyour frame it and put yourself out there.

Internships are the New Entry Level Jobs

With more emphasis being placed on a higher college education than ever before, something that is commonly found is that companies are doing away altogether with the idea of an entry-level job. At this point, an internship andt an entry-level job are or two very similar things. With internships covering the idea of an introduction to a company or profession, the entry-level jobs based around getting your foot in the door seem nonexistent or impractical.

Unfortunately for those who are unable to procure an internship in their chosen field, this means that they are often overlooked when it comes time to apply for a paid job in that field. One of the downsides to this new tier of the corporate ladder is that oftentimes internships pay very little (or not at all!). This means that if you cannot afford to take an unpaid internship or you are unable to have a job in addition to your classes or an internship then the likelihood of you getting that step ahead is very slim.

Despite there being no shortage of new graduates, CNBC says entry-level job availability has gone down by 68% in the past three years. This, coupled with the intense competition that is being seen for a foot in the door to the professional world makes finding entry-level jobs a job in and of itself. In addition to a lack of entry-level jobs, the downturn in the economy is also forcing companies to rescind job and internship offers to make up for profit losses.

According to the BBC, another common issue first-time professionals are facing is the idea that companies are hesitant to complete or offer training for entry-level positions. Because of all of the change that technology has brought to the workplace, things thatat once needed teams of individuals to accomplish can be done by one person in a fraction of the time. Not only does this reduce the need for interns and entry-level workers, but it also leaves those who do procure entry-level jobs vastly underprepared.

Lack of Available Jobs

One of the most obvious reasons that entry-level jobs are so hard to come by is that there are simply fewer jobs available now to workers of all experience levels. With employment down by 15% since before the Covid pandemic, more and more potential employees are looking for jobs that better suit their education or allow them some modicum of upward mobility. While one would think that the availability of upward mobility would allow entry-level positions to open up, companies are becoming more hesitant to fill these positions due to the shortage in labor.

Like in many negative economic situations when the rate of employment goes down and jobs become scarce, people turn to new career paths. This can also contribute to the declining number of entry-level jobs. As more and more professionals seek to change their career path, havingpath having an entry-level job becomes important especially if you lack eExperience such as an internship or volunteering in the field in which you want to go in.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to combat this specific issue and find an entry-level job. Because of the state of the economy, the current work environment, and the flooding of potential candidates, entry-level jobs have become the unicorn of the professional world. While they are highly coveted and hard to find, they are almost exclusively required to begin the path to your chosen career.

While finding an entry-level job may seem close to impossible now, trends are showing that the entry-level job as a whole may be reduced to simply an internship or done away with altogether. While there’s no telling what this means for the future of professional work environments, the possibility that this entire branch of jobs will be eliminated altogether provides the opportunity to hopefully allow candidates without experience to apply for jobs that they are qualified for in their field or maybe even change the idea of qualifications altogether.

Originally published: 2/4/2022

May 5, 2023