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It’s Time to Reconsider “Entry Level” in Job Postings

Every day, we monitor the millions of jobs in our Jobsindex for our job board clients. And we’ve noticed a trend: the jobs that employers tag as “entry level” greatly outnumber the searches for entry-level roles.

For context, there are currently 577,000 open roles tagged as entry level in our Jobsindex, compared with just 14,800 monthly searches for the term “entry-level jobs.”

Google search trends additionally show that today’s job seekers are seeking out entry-level jobs at historically low rates. Here’s why.

Many “Entry-Level” Jobs Require Years of Experience

In a 2021 survey, 47 percent of entry-level job seekers reported their top frustration was job listings with inappropriate experience requirements. These requirements for entry-level roles have a trickle-down effect.

When an entry-level role requires years of work experience, it diminishes candidate interest. This hurts job application rates. Fewer applications means positions stay open longer, worsening the pain of being understaffed.

For a specific example of how experience requirements hurt application rates, look no further than recent college graduates. Fifty percent reported not applying to an entry-level role for fear of being underqualified.

High turnover doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon, either. More than 4.5 million people left their jobs in March. And when companies are understaffed, business suffers.

Entry-Level Roles Rarely Pay Enough

If entry-level roles require years of experience, what does this telegraph to entry-level job seekers?

  1. They’re not qualified for the job.
  2. In certain contexts, “entry-level” may be code for “low-paying.”

Low-paying entry-level roles hurt workers more amid 40-year-high inflation rates. But even before the recent 8.5 percent increase in consumer prices, employees struggled to cover living expenses on entry-level pay.

In California, for example, the average entry-level wage is $32,086 and the average cost of living is $46,636. In Indiana, the average entry-level wage is $28,628 compared with a cost of living that hits $38,097.

The average cost of living in both states exceeds the average entry-level wage by nearly $10,000. When 60 percent of job seekers view wages as the most important consideration for a new role, it’s easy to see how low pay reduces candidates’ interest in a position.

This is where the value of including wages in job postings comes in. Featuring compensation ranges helps companies stand out in this tight labor market and equips entry-level applicants with the information they want before applying for a new role.

The Term “Entry Level” Doesn’t Excite Job Seekers

If candidates believe “entry-level” signifies unfair requirements or low compensation, they won’t seek out roles with that title.

Google search trends reflect this disinterest. Search volume for the term “entry-level jobs” has dropped considerably since its peak in 2004.

Google search volume for the term “entry-level job” from January 2004 to April 2022.

But not all searches for entry-level jobs use the exact phrase “entry-level jobs.”

So we considered related search terms (“no experience jobs,” “apprentice jobs,” and so on). But these terms only totaled 82,000 monthly searches – less than 15 percent of the open jobs currently tagged as “entry level.”

What does this mean? It may be time for companies and job boards to rethink how they fill entry-level roles and what language they use to advertise those openings. Consider:

  • Is the role “entry level” when it requires three years of experience?
  • Does the employer offer on-the-job training?
  • What’s the benefit of paying more or including wage data in listings?

In a job market with record-high turnover, the answers to the questions above could inform a recruitment strategy that both attracts applicants to openings and encourages them to apply.

Companies Must Attract Entry-Level Applicants to Survive the Great Resignation

To help fill open positions, companies must appeal to entry-level workers in new ways. Certain businesses have addressed understaffing by employing high school workers, offering them higher pay as an incentive.

But this solution doesn’t work for full-time entry-level positions. For those roles, companies may need to scale back experience requirements, offer more pay, or even omit the term “entry level” from their postings.

There’s no single answer, but if you’re a job board that needs help attracting candidates to your customers’ entry-level listings, get in touch with us – we’d love to help out.

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