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Entry-Level Job Seekers Still Struggling to Get Hired Despite Labor Shortage

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U.S. businesses have gone to great lengths to deal with the country’s labor shortage — hiking wages, recruiting retirees back into the workforce, and even reassigning office staff into frontline jobs — so you wouldn’t think entry-level job applicants would have much trouble finding work these days.

But even in late 2021, many still find it difficult to land the right position because of traditional work-experience requirements, according to a new survey from Skynova, an online invoicing platform for small businesses.

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Skynova surveyed 1,018 entry-level job seekers and 518 hiring managers across various industries, including education, medical/health care, technology and wholesale/retail. It found that the majority of listings for entry-level positions required three or more years of related work experience — a major deterrent for some job applicants, even in the currently tight labor market.

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Skynova refers to this practice as “experience inflation,” a hiring trend it posits as making it “extremely difficult” for some applicants to break into the workforce.

The survey also found that 39% of job seekers feel “very or extremely discouraged” by entry-level job listings that require multiple years of experience, with women (42%) and 36- to 45-year-olds (44%) feeling most affected.

Forrest Deters, a project manager at Skynova, said that there seems to be a disconnect between job seekers and hiring managers when it comes to work-experience requirements.

“There’s clearly a discrepancy between what entry-level hiring looks like to hiring managers, and what it looks like from the job seeker’s perspective,” Deters told GOBankingRates in an email. “We found in our research that job seekers estimated that more than half of listings for entry-level positions in their desired field required three or more years of experience, but only about 7% of hiring specialists said that their company typically requires three or more years of experience for entry-level positions. That disconnect is likely contributing to the labor shortage as job seekers feel boxed out of more jobs than it seems hiring managers intend.”

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When asked what their top job search frustrations were, entry-level job seekers cited the following:

High experience requirements for entry-level positions aren’t a new problem, Skynova noted. It pointed to a 2019 study showing that 35% of LinkedIn job postings required three or more years of experience. But the problem has only worsened since then, with Skynova survey respondents estimating that 55% of entry-level listings now require three or more years of related work experience.

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But considering the labor shortage, hiring managers might need to reconsider these requirements if they want to fill their payrolls. As GOBankingRates recently reported, a large percentage of Americans who left the workforce since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t coming back.

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A research note from Goldman Sachs found that about 5 million people left the labor force during the pandemic. Of those, 3.4 million were identified as being over 55 years old. About 1.5 million were early retirements and another 1 million were normal retirements. According to the research note, the latter two groups “likely won’t reverse” their decisions to leave employment behind, which means that around half of those who left the labor force won’t be returning.

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