The “5 year curse”

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What is so magic about that 5 year mark? It seems as though there is a stigma in the business world that 5 years experience is a standard before a candidate will be considered for hire. So how do you get the experience if all employers are wearing the 5 year blinders?

I think most business professionals would agree that “entry level” is considered less than three years’ experience. The perception that five years’ experience is magic seems arbitrary at best. Agreed, some roles simply require a seasoned professional that can “hit the ground running”. However, if there is any flexibility in the requirements of the position to be filled, and it is not a senior position, adhering to 5 years is rigid and cuts off potentially good candidates.

Many good candidates can be overlooked with a requirement like this. A candidate with only 3 years experience, but experience closely aligned with the role, and in the same industry might be overlooked due to this stigma. For all companies that use an online application process and filter out resumes based on search criteria, years of experience can be the determining factor of whether that resume even makes it to the printer. I, for one, have had the feeling of instant defeat, sitting at the computer finishing a long online application and selecting the drop down window for the required field of “Years of Experience”.

It’s funny how a college student can find a summer internship with ease, or an apprentice level 1 or 2 can get picked up quickly but the college graduate and apprentice levels 3 and 4 are left out in the cold. The labor market needs these people to be developed to fill future demand, but they won’t have any part in developing them. It’s a double edge sword for all of those young professionals and trades people stuck in the middle.
So what is your organization doing about it? Are you developing your future or nabbing the already seasoned people? This comes down to a matter of ethics, and social responsibility; if we want our workforce trained and educated we must enable that to happen. Using the education and training system to your advantage is not the answer and as a young professional I can tell you one thing “I will stay loyal to those that have invested in me, given me a chance, and gave me the ticket out of the “5 year curse”.

Stay tuned for my next blog highlighting what employers and candidates can do to remedy the 5 year curse.


About the Author:

Coralee is the “rookie” of the office, but she doesn’t let that slow her down! Armed with a Bachelors degree in Human Resource Management, experience working with her family’s private business, and a forward thinking nature she is ready to take on anything that is thrown her way. Coralee has a talent for achieving forward motion. Her fresh perspective and ability to “think outside the box” adds a crisp quality to her contribution in projects. Determined to develop her career in Human Resources, she has landed in just the right spot, rubbing shoulders with a variety of dynamic seasoned professionals. Coralee graduated from Dickinson State University where she competed on the Varsity Athletics Rodeo Team for the Blue Hawks. Coralee is an accomplished cowgirl having competed at various levels of rodeo throughout the United States and Canada. Her love for animals doesn’t stop at horses she is the proud owner of a 90 pound Staffordshire terrier named “Chauncey”.


  1. Leanne  September 4, 2012

    Love this post, Coralee! I think so many people can relate to this. For those of us under the 5 year mark, it’s so important to know your strengths and how you can add value. Having a solid knowledge base, transferable skills, a good attitude, and willingness to learn have beat the 5 year curse for me, and I know I’ll always be grateful for those people who have given me a chance. I’m really looking forward to your next post!


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