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I am baffled by the fact that IT recruiters in Belgium systematically ask 3 years experience when the media says there are shortages year after year saying IT is the future.

It's not just some jobs but most of the jobs you can find on a portal like Stepstone or Monster.

People fresh out of a bachelor's degree obviously find a job, so there must be some junior or medior positions out there to acquire work experience.

Is there something they know that I don't know, and is this "3 years experience" a partial lie to deter the hordes of unemployed looking for a job?

It's absolutely dumb to not be able to demonstrate what you're capable of and have to remain on the sidelines for a superficial question of form over substance.

Is there some way of getting around this? Because I haven't landed a serious software development job in ten years and I am starting to feel disgusted at having my IT career snuffed in the egg from the start.

Maybe it's possible to go round recruitment and approach an employer directly or through distance work?

I am slightly lacking in people skills as a slight introvert, but it takes two to create a problem or conflict.

Yeah, I imagine anyone reading my cv would draw assumptions and I'd have no voice to explain the reality.

That shouldn't be that dramatic a problem and I feel like I'm facing some kind of deterministic social darwinist ideology that drops "unfit" babies off a cliff like in the movie 300.

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  • Which particular branch of IT are you in? – Gregory Currie Mar 16 at 1:39
  • Software development. Web backend although I could do anything software related with my degree in business informatics. – James P. Mar 16 at 1:39
  • People fresh out of a bachelor's degree obviously find a job Then you need to get a bachelor's degree in order to get a job and experience. – scaaahu Mar 16 at 3:56
  • @scaaahu I mean younger people fresh out of a degree. I have a degree with distinction but I'm in my fourties so negative assumptions are something I need to circumvent. – James P. Mar 16 at 13:02
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Why insist on 3 years experience in the IT industry?

Companies are generally in the business of making products or services to make money. They are generally not in the business of taking someone with 0 experience and training them. They put 2-3 year experience requirements in job descriptions because this means they will have someone who should have already mastered the basics.

Some larger companies, however, do offer internships and/or graduate training. These may not be advertised in the same way as normal jobs, using the portals where you're looking. For example, graduate training schemes are usually targeted at careers fairs in university, or may just advertise at local universities.

I am baffled by the fact that IT recruiters in Belgium systematically ask 3 years experience when the media says there are shortages year after year saying IT is the future.

Because there is a shortage of good, experienced, and skilled workers in IT in most parts of the world. There is not a shortage of people wanting to get into IT, but see my earlier point about why companies only want experienced people.

How to get around it?

The $80k+ a year question! There isn't a way around it, really. What you need to do is found a path to satisfy the 3 years experience requirement.

You could get a degree and join a graduate programme somewhere, or take an internship.

Or get involved in open source work (If the work you want is more development focused), to get experience. This isn't entirely the same as experience in a business environment, but it can show you know your stuff, and some companies will acknowledge that as experience.

Find local meetups and start talking to people. They might be able to advise you with local and insider knowledge. They might even help find a place for you to start.

You say you already have a degree - are you in touch with anyone else you graduated with? Maybe they can advise you on how they broke into their career?

Finally, I got my own break by spamming my resume to 100s of engineering companies asking them if they had a position for a fresh new graduate. I got two interviews - one I lost out because another candidate already had a year of experience; the other one I got because I was lucky enough that my letter landed at the time they were discussing taking on a graduate (for the first time in 10 years) and before they'd advertised the position.

  • My degree with distinction is sat on my right being useless, I did a few internships and I was in touch with someone working on OpenOffice. Credentials are not the problem but distrust is. All sales people know that. – James P. Mar 16 at 12:58
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    "Companies are generally in the business of making products or services to make money. They are generally not in the business of taking someone with 0 experience and training them." Sure. Trouble is, those 3 year exp. people were once 0 year exp. Somehow, that had to go from 0 to 3. (I believe) OP wants to know how to make that possible. – The_Sympathizer Mar 16 at 15:22
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    @The_Sympathizer - it seems you've only read half my answer. I also point out that some companies do offer entry positions - it's just they aren't necessarily advertised through the same channels as regular job postings. Degrees are generally requirements for graduate programmes. And the last three paragraphs are my suggestions on getting over the zero experience hurdle. – HorusKol Mar 16 at 21:49
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    @JamesP. In-house training is still a thing, but it was never universal. Only larger companies can absorb the implicit costs involved in training - I guess one problem is there has been a significant rise in smaller companies, which have tighter margins, and would be less willing to take on trainees. On the other hand, those smaller companies will take open source work as experience. – HorusKol Mar 16 at 21:54
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    @HorusKol : However, the way this stuff is phrased seems to suggest that training need not be "in-house", suggesting there are other options. What would have been the most common option used by those who would get hired for the posted jobs, and how did they manage to find it out, especially in the "was" times? – The_Sympathizer Mar 17 at 0:20
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There is no grand conspiracy at play here. Keep in mind that the IT industry is very broad. For instance, there may be a shortage of network engineers, but a surplus of frontend web developers. A given IT graduate doesn't have skills that's transferable to all jobs.

What is more likely is that they don't want to deal with naive graduates who don't know how the real world operates.

To speak anecdotally, I got my first job fresh out of uni with no experience, even though they were asking for three years experience.

"3 years experience" can also mean "we are not going to stick you in a grad program".

You may be able to demonstrate knowledge that you've learnt over the course of 10 years. Hopefully you have been staying current. Even being employed in any role can demonstrate a level of experience and maturity that they may be looking for.

It is always in recruiters best interests to lament about a shortage of professionals, imagined or otherwise. After all, more professionals, more work, and more money. Employers benefit from having a massive pool to pick from.

If I were you, I would submit you resume anyway. If a recruiter refuses to on your behalf, apply directly. You will need to explain what you've been doing for 10 years, so make sure you have good answers, and turn 10 years non-industry experience as a strength.

Also, don't worry about the people skills aspect or being an introvert. You will be in good company.

  • That's cool because I don't believe in conspiracy theories, but it's silly that I took the "3 years" literally in sometimes not being able to demonstrate my knowhow. In fact, the jobs I did get were when I could show what I can do. It's like girls not being direct such that the internet is full of "dating experts". There's a communication problem here and incentives that are off as you hint. You can watch this video to have insights about the ideology in HR which may or may not be specific to the Benelux. – James P. Mar 16 at 1:56
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Don't just rely on those websites and recruitment agencies.

Visit the websites of companies you find interesting and apply directly.

Many even have their own job posting section.

As you said,juniors get jobs but obviously many will want at least some experience to maximize efficiency.

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I am baffled by the fact that IT recruitors systematically ask 3 years experience

They don't systematically ask for 3 years.

People fresh out of a bachelor's degree obviously find a job, so there must be some junior or medior positions out there to acquire work experience.

Is there something they know that I don't know

It's not clear what you are doing wrong here.

Searching for "entry level" finds plenty of IT jobs.

  • Not in Belgium. You should see 1-3 junior positions tops on the portals I mentioned. They're quickly filled and some months there are none. I'm not particularly enthusiasic about IT in this country as employers seem to be extremely picky sometimes. – James P. Mar 16 at 1:41
  • Thank you Joe :) – James P. Mar 16 at 1:58
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Job postings are a wishlist. They describe the perfect candidate, which often does not exist.

If you think you would be a good fit for a job but you don't meet the experience requirement, then apply anyway. If you get an interview, be confident and explain that what you lack in experience you make up for in other ways. A good company will know that an employee is a long-term investment and that good employees possess certain qualities that can't always be taught. Experience can be gained on the job, so if you possess these qualities, then you will be an asset to them, regardless of your current level of experience.

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