Every once in a while, I’ll hear a lament from one of our students who is interested in landing an in-house or agency job. They’ll say, “I really want to apply for these, but they all require at least two years of experience! I haven’t got that yet!”
And I get it: For someone who’s been studying and working diligently to practice and hone the craft, as well as build a great portfolio, that can seem discouraging.
But, in actuality, these companies requiring experience is actually a good thing—and might even mean you have a better chance of landing the work.
So, let’s take a step back and talk about what’s in a hiring manager’s head when they’re putting together the job description. They’ve written up what they need, they’ve written up the benefits of the position, and now it’s on to the requirements of the position; specifically, the experience.
What are their options? For a junior—or even junior-to-mid-level—position, they want someone who knows how to write copy. They don’t mind getting them up to speed on the brand or brands, but they don’t want to have to teach someone to write copy.
This means that they have to choose between “no experience” and something like “two years of experience.”
If they opt for “no experience” that’s exactly what they’re going to get: People who have no experience and have no ability to write copy. And that’s not what they’re looking for.
So their other option is picking a time amount that seems reasonable: Say, “two years”. If someone has two years of experience, they’ve learned some skills, done some writing, and maybe even improved on their skills a bit.
Here’s the thing: The hiring manager doesn’t LITERALLY need two years of experience. “Years of experience” are somewhat arbitrary and they don’t factor in the fact that someone could have two years of really great experience and come out a copy genius, or two years of really cruddy experience and emerged as someone who can barely string sentences together.
No one is actually going through and throwing away the resumes with experience that stops at 23 months. What matters to the hiring manager is that the applicants have SOME experience and have learned copywriting and worked to practice and improve their skills.
It’s quality of experience that matters, not quantity.
Companies ask for years of experience as a kind of “ballpark guess” for how much knowledge and ability they want applicants to have. As someone who has written job descriptions as well as hired people for both other people’s companies and my own, I can tell you that choosing that number is a little bit like picking a number out of a hat.
You want to work for companies that are asking for some experience because you want to work for people who are looking for quality, skilled writers. Students in the CCA study, practice, and refine their skills and often (depending on their personal schedules) do that at a much faster rate than even some working copywriters.
When you see that a company requires experience, you shouldn’t be discouraged—you should be excited. It means that this company is discerning and wants to work with people who are skilled. When you see that, get to work putting together a cover letter that clearly conveys YOUR benefit to consumer and begin demonstrating to them just how skilled you are.
Your turn! What other “requirements” might be more negotiable than they seem? (Hint: There are lots 🙂 ) Let me know what you think in the comments below!