June 26, 2020

How Many Years of Experience Do You Need During Covid-19?

Will years of experience shift along with the re-skilling of the workforce?

A minimum qualifications section is almost always included with new job postings. Depending on the organization, the title, and the responsibilities in question, years of experience can range dramatically. Entry level candidates are used to, and feel confident, applying to jobs with 1-3 years of experience. Mid-level to senior level jobs, if you scroll far enough into the application, usually demand a minimum of anywhere from 5-10 years of experience.

These are fairly spread out ranges in terms of years of experience, and brings to mind if an employee could potentially perform just as well in a role with 4 years of experience instead of 5. If that’s not the case, and strict cutoffs are there for an executive reason, it’s worth investigating why, and if such measures are necessary, especially during Covid-19. 

The years of experience question might be up for grabs during the current economic moment.

Shifting Job Prospects

If we look at this issue firstly in the pre-Covid era, it might be a perfectly valid argument to see years of experience as inelastic. Growth was climbing slowly, the amount of jobs that were lost in the 2008 financial crisis had been regained as of the beginning of 2014, and for the most part major companies had the time and wiggle room to sit back and wait for the perfect candidate to surface.

Of course, we know now that these realities have been mostly shattered while one constant that has remained is job applicants. In light of this, team leaders and those who design new jobs in their companies should perhaps re-think the years of experience question. The reason they should do this is not to become more relaxed and less prestigious, but to attract new kinds of candidates as we enter a somewhat unknown period of capitalism.  

It is not really the same as saying desperate times call for desperate measures, as much as it saying the re-skilling of candidates has lead to shift in the skills economy, which means traditional markers of qualification should also shift. 

This has long been an evolving reality that has really been compounded by Covid-19, and perhaps is the perfect time to introduce such measures.

Finding the right fit

This issue is largely a managerial cultural one. At the end of the day, corporate leaders and those at the tops of hierarchies will have to decide if they want to engage more candidates with one or two years less of experience. And then board members will have to convene and decide if this issue matters or not.  Many organizations will simply not want to touch this issue and consider it a frivolous consideration. 

Other organizations, perhaps those with smaller teams or those in the social impact space, might think differently. For these organizations with tight knit office culture, remembering whether someone has 3 or 3.5 years of experience might not matter when that person has the perfect technical skills for the job. And it is becoming the case in today’s job market where technical skills have become paramount.

With the advent of Covid-19 and the new remote working culture that has swept across the country, perhaps people will become faster learners as well. Most companies and their employees have not complained about remote working, and indeed many workers have reported productivity gains being able to work from home. Twitter announced employees can work from home permanently for good reason. This is because of the work/life balance that people are starting to master as they settle into their home office. This would also suggest at the macro level that that workers efficiency is increasing, not decreasing.

Michael Robbins
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

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