Don’t Let Some of the Entry-Level Jobs Fool You

There is a clever trick that companies use to lure promising workers into low-paying jobs: often it takes a more experienced worker to open jobs labeled as “entry-level”. In fact, however, the salary is the only thing that reflects the actual entry-level job.

Especially when the economy is tense, as it is now, it is possible that the job listing website will be overrun with entry-level jobs, some of which, paradoxically, require more senior professionals to apply. This is especially difficult to get around when the labor market is desperately limited. But there are still tactics and workarounds that can be used to at least get the company to admit that they are not really looking for entry-level workers, and perhaps find wiggle room for higher compensation in the process.

How to tell if a job is not really entry-level

It’s pretty straightforward. A real entry-level job doesn’t require years of experience, and job listings shouldn’t require multiple responsibilities spread across the page. Although the corporate sector used this tactic for many years before the pandemic, COVID-19 has increased the demand for jobs everywhere, often forcing more experienced workers to seek jobs for which they would normally be under-qualified.

This is a two-tiered dilemma, affecting not only veteran job seekers, but also recent graduates who are expected to take on duties in which they have little experience. As Brian Harris, Regional Manager at Cubiks, a talent management and assessment company, told the Society for Human Resource Management in 2019 :

We constantly hear employers talk about the huge skill gap between what new college graduates are trained for and what employers need to do from them. The problem is that employers are raising the bar higher and higher. At some point, this becomes a barrier to entry.

If this ever applies to the job you aspire to, you will likely start to feel the gap between responsibilities and pay – all justified under the guise of entry-level – during the interview process. If the interviewing process seems overly restrictive, or hiring managers ask if you are comfortable working long hours and under high pressure, you will most likely be paid entry-level wages, but you will be required to take on responsibilities that exceed your level.

Tell hiring managers what you think

There is no reason to dance around the question of being cheated at an entry-level job with a burdensome responsibility. If you get to the final stages of the interview, address the issue directly, albeit with all the subtleties and care required for a formal process. Since you’re going to talk about compensation at some point, it’s fair to say that you don’t necessarily think the salary offered is in line with the job function or your level of experience.

If the company you are interviewing wants to hire you, they will at least try to put together a more attractive package, even if their economic reality is put under a legitimate challenge. But for the most part, you can articulate (respectfully and thoughtfully) why outlined responsibilities at work do not necessarily overlap with entry-level responsibilities. Kicking up this dialogue speaks volumes about your self-confidence and discernment, while blindly accepting a lower salary can only do you a disservice.

If you get to the point where you can negotiate a paycheck, stick with the traditional scenario . This includes researching salaries in your industry for similar jobs (even if they are not “entry-level”) and some genuine prowess. It can be tricky, but honestly speaking about misleading job descriptions and job titles, you can show how receptive and helpful you are towards the employee.


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