“Perfect Entry-Level Job for Graduates! Must have 3 Years Management Experience. Fluency in English, Mandarin, German, and Italian Required.”


I was job hunting today.

I mean, I’ve been job hunting for a while. This isn’t a new thing with me. After discovering that I’m basically only qualified for food service and bank teller jobs (which, by the way, would be awesome!!! ) I gave up and went to Indeed.com, where I typed “entry-level” into the search engine.

I know that entry-level jobs are nearly always for graduates. I get that. Some college is the minimum if you’re looking to go into a Fortune 1000 company. Again, no problem. What bothers me is when these “entry-level” positions call for 3-5 years experience in a fast-paced environment, management experience preferred, and please, please, please, be fluent in at least three languages.

Now that I’ve completed my second shot of complaining, let me explain myself further. I’m not a person who throws tantrums because employers prefer bilingual candidates. If 30% of the market speaks Spanish, then the workforce should learn. Not necessarily to fluency; just to where you can communicate. It’s fair. The market serves the customers. If a large portion of the customers speak Spanish, then yes, people should learn basic Spanish. It’s easy. I’m totally language-impaired, and I can understand most of it. I can even speak haltingly. And I suck at it. It’s hard for me. But I’ve got some groundwork, because dang it, I want a job. And if Spanish speakers are going to help support my employment, the least I can do is help them out.

Further, it’d be great to be trilingual. I’m working on it. Not only does it make you a more valuable commodity in the work-place, it’s good for you. It strengthens your mind, opens neat little pathways in your brain, and expands your horizons all around. It’s a great idea. That’s not my problem. Multilingual abilities are awesome.

Further, I know many jobs require it. You can’t deal on the international level if the players aren’t willing to communicate. It’s fair. It’s helpful. It’s good for diplomacy. It makes business operations that much smoother.

 But here’s my gripe.

In order to start off in the marketplace, I’d have to be fluent in four languages? It’s not enough to have a degree and be fluent in one, proficient in the other. I somehow had to find time between a packed college schedule, extra curricular activities, and a job to learn three additional languages?

Look, I don’t need anybody to tell me that this is a very American gripe. I’m acquainted with a young man right now who knows six, and switches between effortlessly. He thinks it’s funny (and it sort of is.) I know another who claims to know something semi-ridiculous, like tenor eleven. I don’t trust him entirely (I never trust really fun people entirely, what can I say), but he’s at least got three down. My childhood best friend’s father has abilities that made him indistinguishable from native speakers. My dad knows bits and pieces of German and Spanish, certainly enough to get by in either country. And I know enough Spanish to get by in Mexico. I would’t be totally lost in France, either. (That’s the benefit of studying Latin on your own time–know a little Latin, you know a little everything.) Like I said before, it’s great to know several languages. If you’re multilingual, that should definitely help you qualify for a job.

But to require it for entry-level?! Not just prefer it, but to make it necessary?

And what’s with the experience? Why in the world should a recent, entry-level, brand new graduate, have 3-5 years of management experience?

Here’s where I get lucky. Technically, I have management experience. From the food service sector, unfortunately, but I’ve got three years of it. Not to inflate my own importance, but it was all-inclusive, from back-office stuff to the front counter, dealing with customers and employees equally. This does put me ahead job-wise. I don’t get called for interviews often (hooray for California, haha) but when I do, I get the job. Five interviews in my lifetime; five jobs in my employment history (well, six, but as one was a recurring temp job at a summer camp, those two get glommed into one). I don’t actually have a problem with it. If you’ve got it, use it, baby. Get ahead.

It just makes me angry when it’s required. I thought the essence of an entry-level job was that you were entry-level. Education, but little to no experience. You use the extra skills and experience when you’ve got them, of course. Luckily, everybody’s got a little extra something. But when those extra-somethings, those extra-efforts, those self-refinements and voluntary disciplines, become requirements, it makes me sad.  I don’t know. I can see where it would be a very good thing to have a nation of brilliant multilingual citizens who are all at the management level by age seventeen. It’d rock. It’d be good for everyone. But it’s not going to happen. (Look at the public schools. Jeez Maria, look at the universities. We’re doomed.) By requiring these things at the outset–not even giving allowance for training, for extra time to work on it and beef up those skills to the proficient level within 90 days of hire or something–a large sector of the workforce is going to be alienated.  If a 22-year-old university graduate needs 3-5 years’ management experience with trilingual credentials, something’s not right. I’d say it’d be fine to put them on a fast-track to learning languages. Buy them Rosetta Stone or Fluenz (my personal favorite) and tell them, “You’ve got one month to hold a conversation, missy.)  Throw them into an assistant manager role, after a two-week training sessions. Do what you’re going to do, require what you will, but give some leeway. I’d be much happier if a description stated, instead: “Must be bilingual, with the ability to learn conversational skills in [insert language] within [this many] days. Will provide [this long] management training session.”

I don’t know. I’m ranting, and I know it. It’s disheartening, is all. If I need all these skills and qualifications to start a career, I need a new life. An existence where I learned Spanish by 7, German by 9, French by 11, Mandarin Chinese by 13, Japanese by 15, Swahili by 17, and managed to squeeze in proficient Hungarian by graduation. I would also take a job at 16, be a manager by 17, and hold that position til I went off to college at 18, where I would take another job where I promote fast. I’d also manage to learn Dutch, Italian, Romanian, and Hebrew by my senior year. I’d also, of course, be earning straight A’s, garner a fantastic internship or four, travel abroad during the summers, study abroad one semester per year, and of course, be a corporate manager by age 20.

Am I exaggerating? Yes. Totally. Slap me, I’m being ridiculous.

But am I bummed? Incurably.

Wish me luck. And I’m praying for all of you.


5 responses »

  1. Good luck! I agree entry level requirements in a job posting shouldn’t really require previous experience. If you have 3 years of management experience why would you go for an entry level job? Why wouldn’t you go for the manager’s job, right? Just a thought. If you think the job is interesting, apply for it regardless of the requirements. You never know you might get it even if you don’t speak Swahili.

  2. I am extremely impressed with your writing talents and also with the layout to your blog. Is that this a paid topic or did you customize it your self? Either way stay up the nice high quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice weblog like this one nowadays..

  3. This isn’t happening only in America. I live in a country that is supposedly booming despite the economic downturn, and yet I’ve been searching for a job for 3 years since graduating from college. Everything, even jobs for cashiers in fast food joints and supermarkets, requires at least 2 years experience. What’s worse is that I’ve been told by 3 different employers (after successful interviews) that they look forward to having me work for them — only to never receive a call or response again. They ignore my attempts to follow up either by e-mail, phone call or personal visit. One employer offered me the job and then called to say I couldn’t be hired because of my nationality. Not in those exact words, but that’s what they meant.

    It makes me feel depressed, ashamed and lost. I have no chances here and no means of moving elsewhere. 😦

  4. I’ve been out ofcollege for a year,interviewed about 5 times to little avail. I interviewed for a call center job through a headhunter. They not only required proficiency in Mandarin, but also in Spanish and French! Plus they only paid you 10 dollars an hour as a contractor, no benefits whatsoever. This contract was only for about half a year. The company told the recruiter they had a hard time filling the position(I wonder why) so would be willing to train someone. When I interviewed with them they pretty interrogated me, asking me if i am familiar with a series of technical terms. I told the headhunter the story and they were surprised too.

    This also happened with another companiy’s SQL QA position I recently interviewed for through a headhunter. They had a hard time filling the position (again) because they slight someone with years of experience in various SQL concepts but didn’t want to pay more than 35k a year! They told the headhunter they are switching to training a fresh graduate, but after a day long interview they said they wanted someone with more SQL experience.

    Large companies simply don’t want to train you, but they want your loyalty and to work your ass off for them. They get most of the money while you become simply an expendable commodity. If they don’t find another gullible worker desperate for a job for lower than previous generation pay, then they simply offload your work to another worker after laying you off. We have gone back to the way things were before the New Deal!

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