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Experience Necessary

“Experience necessary.” We’ve all heard and seen that phrase at one point or another when searching for a job. What has always bothered me is, if so many employers want experienced people, where does one begin on the ground floor?

When I was in high school and wanted a summer job, I checked the classifieds. Those two words showed up in ads for a filing clerk, a data entry position, and salon hair washer girl. Now, how hard is it to learn to file papers and charts alphabetically or any other way for that matter? Match the “a” with the “a” and drop it in the bin!

Data entry is sitting a keyboard typing all day. I understand requiring a certain typing speed over whether one has used a particular data saving program. Data entry is usually a repetitive process, entering names and address or such, into a pre-designed form. Show me once and turn me loose. I was on my way to college so I had some smarts and the ability to learn.

I was tempted to interview at the salon and claim my “experience” was washing my own hair every day from the time I was old enough to do it myself. Or, that my dog thinks I’m a talented shampooer. What could an “inexperienced” washer do to cause a catastrophe? Test the water temperature, wet the head, apply the shampoo, massage, rinse. Stop massaging if you see clumps of hair sticking to your fingers. Report any lice nits or scurrying insects you discover to the salon operator then try to refrain from continually scratching your own scalp for the next two days. The job would be a snap.

I’m not against experience at all for some jobs like piloting a plane. I’d have a hard time staying in my seat if the flight attendant made an announcement congratulating the passengers on being the first load that Captain Jack has flown. My brother is a pilot and I know that he practiced in a flight simulator …on the ground. I think it’s like a sophisticated arcade game where the instructor makes bad things happen to the plane. If the pilot-in-training botches the remedy maneuvers, the computer plane crashes and burns. No points for that. If the novice racks up a certain number of points, his prize is a real jumbo jet full of unsuspecting travelers. The saving grace is that airplanes today have the auto-pilot option that not only flies the plane, but it can perform take-offs and landings. The jet my brother flies can even find its way to a certain gate at any given airport once the auto-pilot is programmed. Who makes more mistakes, humans or computers? Let the computer fly the plane!

A curious twist to the “experience necessary” thing rears its ugly head in our public schools, at least in Western Pennsylvania. A school district will call a substitute numerous times to teach a variety of grades and subjects. When a position opens for which the substitute is qualified, the district will hire a new college graduate because he will be on the lowest level of the salary scale. I was told by an administrator that this hiring practice gets the school an inexpensive teacher and retains an experienced substitute. That is until the sub realizes what happened and tells the district to take its sub job and shove it.

If a teacher with experience applies for a job, he will be offered the slot if he agrees to forget about years of experience and accept the base salary. With teaching jobs scarce here, the unemployed jump at the opportunity. The districts love this situation.

There are several career positions where experience is appreciated and valued enough that employers pay accordingly. I won’t list them all, but prostitution is most likely one of them.

This post first appeared on The Balancing Pole, please read the originial post: here

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Experience Necessary


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