Aside: Experience: Too Much / Not Enough

If you apply for a job today, it seems like you practically need a masters degree for an entry level position. This is true even for menial work like office administration.

During the draft in WW2 and Vietnam, and even in the military today, it’s possible to take an 18 year old and turn him into a tank operator or a pilot or a marksman within a couple years. At the very least he can be a passable soldier and a comeptant office administrator within a month or so.

It seems unheard of to hire someone with no skills to do a corporate job, yet the military shows that it’s obviously possible to train an inexperienced person to do complex tasks. So why the discrepancy? Why the overemphasis on formal education? I’ve heard it said that it’s a symptom of rampant over-education. A sort of “more college is always better” mode of thinking. The soccer mom-ificaton of society, trying to over prepare everyone for everything.

But the answer is much simpler and less ominous. It ignores that there is probability at play: military recruiting and corporate recruiting are fundamentally different because the military takes thousands of new recruits on at a time, while businesses only hire one person for the job.

The military is making small bets on a thousand horses. If one private can’t make the cut, it’s no big deal. Next, please.

Businesses don’t have that option. They’re betting big, so they want to see some security in the form of excessive degrees and experience. They need to do this to mitigate risk, to cover their asses.