There's a lot of job listings that want 3 or more years of experience. I currently have about a year's worth of job experience. I'd like to apply to jobs that require 3 or more years of experience and have a decent chance of landing them. I do know that someone who does have 3 or more years of experience will more likely get the job, but I'm just trying to do the best with what I've got.

Here are the ideas that popped into my head about how to make up for the lack of work experience when applying to a job that requires more seniority:

  • side projects that I built and deployed myself
  • GitHub repositories of code I wrote

Does anyone have any other ideas? I'm located in Europe, if that's relevant, but am thinking of applying to both remote European and remote United States jobs. I have read this answer, which is amazing and is in line with what I'm suggesting here, but was wondering if there's any additional things I could do to demonstrate my experience. I'm asking in the domain of machine learning engineering.

  • Did you work on your side projects alone, or did they involve team work?
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


X number of years experience is a rough guidline, usually. If you have 2.5 years experience you won't (shouldn't) be rejected for it on that alone. 3 years is a fairly small amount of time so the position is probably fairly entry-level. Applying never hurts, but DO NOT LIE about what it is that you have done.

If you've only got 1-year of experience, state it. Then, in your cover letter, state that you are aware that you have less than what they are looking for but you feel that you are still likely able to perform the tasks and duties that are listed, and that you are eager and willing to learn. Attitude and drive go a LONG way!

You might not get it, but at least you have tried.

Recruiters and HR-pros are people and sometimes make mistakes when posting jobs too. I have seen "entry-level jobs" that require a minimum of 10 years of experience, and I have also seen requirements for 5 years of experience with software that was released earlier that year.

X number of years in an industry doesn't really mean anything concrete, especially at the lower end number. I interpret years experience on a scale somewhat like this 10-20 years experience, they're looking for someone that has seen just about everything. 5 years, they're looking for someone who can handle themselves and don't hand-holding. 3-5 years, they're new, probably pretty decent but won't know all the best practices yet. <3 years, the person probably doesn't know much of anything, driven (hopefully) but will likely have a lot of questions about some of the basic things.

My first job out of grad-school wanted 5 years of experience while I had zero. I talked with the department lead, and we hit it off on a personal basis, and even though I didn't have the right number of years, the skills that they were looking for I had sufficient background from other non-professional projects and I got the job

  • Exactly. Go ahead and apply. The 3 years requirement will reduce your likelihood, but if you can get your resume in the hands of a human, you have about as good a shot. Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 17:58

You do not. Point. if a job requires experience in profession, then it requires experience in profession. Sounds stupid? No - you have to see how stupid projects are run and how i.e. office politics plays in in order to evaluate this properly. This comes with experience and that comes with time in job. You are simply not qualified for that - unless you are a SERIOUSLY experienced unusual person (i.e. Mozart) and do not need any training and experience.

Get a beginner job, learn the job and see the reality that is not technical.

Side projects, Github - will not count. They simply do not prepare you i.e. for managers, stupid regulations, incompetent hires under you that all are the standard in the professional job and - well - that is a large part of a more senior position.

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