What is the current definition of “entry-level?”
“Entry-level” is defined as “at the lowest level in an employment hierarchy” or “suitable for a beginner or first-time user; basic.” This definition makes it clear that “entry-level” workers are beginners or first-timers with only a basic understanding of the work, so they start their careers at the lowest spot in the employment hierarchy.
At some point in the past decade or so, with the proliferation of IT/IS jobs, this definition has drastically changed. At first, “entry-level” became 1-2 years, then 2-3 years, and now, many companies call “entry-level” 3-5 years of experience. For more on this topic, check out this great article: https://eqstl.com/how-experience-inflation-is-killing-our-talent-pool-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/. There is a huge problem with this changing definition. Not only is it virtually impossible for an “entry-level” job candidate to have 3-5 years of experience, it is quite difficult for an “entry-level” candidate to have even one year of experience.
Where, when, and how exactly did this definition change so significantly? According to Google, by March of 2018, 3 years of prior experience had become so common that “entry-level” was unofficially re-defined. Why did this change occur? The answer to that is more complicated. In the IT/IS field, the truly dedicated employee does a good deal of online learning and outside-of-work study in order to stay up-to-date on all things in the ever-changing industry. It would appear that this self-learning is so common that IT/IS companies decided they could count on their applicants already having spent considerable personal time exploring IT/IS topics and learning everything they can before applying.
I don’t know about you, but to us at CyberUp, this situation presents an impossible problem – we have literally thousands upon thousands of open IT/IS jobs in our country, especially in cybersecurity, but not enough skilled, experienced people to fill those roles. What is it going to take to tip the scales back the other way, and get back to the true definition of “entry-level?”
We firmly believe in the apprenticeship model, but this is only one method to reduce the number of open jobs. It is time for organizations to start thinking outside the box, and utilize other employment options, like apprenticeships. Over the next seven weeks, we will be posting a blog series on the trials and tribulations of closing the cybersecurity skills gap. We will cover topics such as “what entry-level jobs require,” “where is the disconnect,” “the apprenticeship approach,” and “diversity in cybersecurity,” among others.