Though reports continue to inform us that the job market is improving, anyone who has been looking for a first-time or a new job would point out that improvements do not necessarily mean an ideal for job hunters. Many upper tiered jobs require a number of skills and years of experience that someone new to the field wouldn’t have and other positions are often hired in-house. For those looking for paying work, rather than an unpaid internship, what is left is usually an entry-level position, which can have its benefits and its drawbacks.
Pro: Entry Level Positions Require Less Experience
One of the reasons that entry level positions have their name is because they require less, even no, experience in the field. A prospective employee may get the job straight out of school or after changing jobs. In fact, more skilled job hunters might be seen as overqualified. It is understood when someone takes on one of these jobs, they won’t have the skills that come from on-the-job experience, so there are often lower expectations.
Con: The Expected Skills May Still Be Overwhelming
Though the average new hire may be expected to have fewer skills than his senior co-workers, the job market has led to employers creating entry level positions that mix and match qualifications that previously would have been separate jobs. For example, a public relations or marketing position might also expect knowledge of advertising and even graphic design skills. This consolidation of qualifications requires employers to hire fewer people to cover a wider variety of tasks
Pro: Greater Opportunities for Advancement and Experience
In theory, an entry level position should allow for more upward mobility and greater challenges within the business. In practice that is not always possible, but entry level positions allow an employee the time to gain the experience and skills needed to seek a more advanced position at another company. Most upper level positions require time in the field, and that time must begin somewhere.
Con: Highly Competitive
Because entry level positions are open to a broader group of job seekers, they tend to be more competitive. This competitive nature isn’t helped by the recent trend for companies to turn what had once been entry level jobs into paid and, more frequently, unpaid internships. A number of people may be vying for the same position, so extra qualifications can go far to getting these jobs.
Pro: Less Responsibility
Though this isn’t always the case, entry level jobs often have less responsibility or at least more oversight by experienced employees. A new hire will likely have a manager to help them, understanding that they are new to the job. Starting a new job can be stressful in and of itself, but the extra guidance from more experienced colleagues and managers can act as a safety net.
Con: Less Pay for Less Prime Work
Because these positions require fewer skills and more oversight, they often come with less pay. This can be frustrating for recent graduates who have student loans to pay or those transferring from higher paying jobs at other companies. It can also be irritating, since new hires are unlikely to get the more interesting assignments or may be asked to put in longer hours in exchange for this lower pay.
Pro: It’s a Start
Ultimately, entry level positions are to serve as a starting point, and though they may not be perfect, they are one of the only ways to gain experience in a field, aside from internships that generally pay far less and require more work. To stay competitive in the job market today, a job seeker cannot simply stay in school until they earn a degree that will guarantee them a management position. They must have job experience, and entry level positions are the best ways to get that competitive edge.
Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that Amy has held similar roles at Rent.com, eBay and US Interactive.
For Amy, corporate culture isn’t about dogs and free lunches, it’s about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel.