Summertime Sadness: The Vicious Cycle of the Experience Gap- Perception, Reality, and Practice


Leaders must embrace being human, and cultivate a HumanR experience in their talent strategy.

Recent graduates typically feel the pain and suffering of the chicken and the egg conundrum when attempting to land their first job (often full time). Still reeling from the high of “Oh, the places you’ll go!” from graduation in May, they commit to the recruitment process. Mid-summer though, fatigue can sit in, as the nagging thought of no employment for the Fall looms.

HR professionals are usually well-balanced in hiring recent graduates. After all, these candidates are usually eager, trained with the top trending skills of the market, and without any of the bad habits picked up from previous employment.

However, hiring managers and leaders, in particular, get hung up on experience. Entry level positions stating they are ideal for recent graduates often have 2-3 years of experience in the industry listed as a requirement for consideration.

For our recent graduates, they lack the “experience” with any employer, but qualify as a recent graduate. Now, it would be great if recent graduates understood that this would only be a one-time barrier, and after their first job they would not experience it for the next one.

Except, this is a recurring theme for mid-level, managerial, and leadership experience as well. Recently, job descriptions have attempted to be broader through adoption of inclusive language sometimes stating “any combination of skills, education, and experience”. This gives candidates more flexibility in applying and being considered for opportunities. Although it presents one way to address the conundrum, it is only a temporary band-aid and cannot function as a holistic approach towards resolution.

Leaning into inclusivity, why are barriers being created that do not even correlate to effectiveness in doing a job? Performance is tied to effective productivity. If we value quality performance over quantitative performance, I wonder what builds the attraction to the rigidness of experience. Our job descriptions do not say “effective experience”, although every once in a while there is the proven experience.

How can “effective experience” get qualified? As an HR leader, I have led organizational change, and various cross-functional project management teams. A real time example may highlight what it will take at all levels in an organization for shifting the mindset on talent experience. A key is curiosity in the person’s potential to serve in your organization.

Recently I reached out to a Board of Directors to be considered as an Executive Director. Rather than commenting on my skills, experience, or qualifications, the Board Member simply responded “We are looking for someone with experience leading a nonprofit.” My entire career has been built on leading nonprofits, a transferable skill, that is qualifying. Some recruiters may even describe it as a natural progression to being the acting executive of a nonprofit. Even at a higher career level for well-established industry professionals, they face the disparity of perceived relevant experience and the distorted reality for “time served” which is actually holding organizations back from creativity and innovation.

Board Members’ limited beliefs and expressions like this are how CuraHuman LLC was born. CuraHuman addresses the experience gap that plagues our talent regardless of the level of experience. The sad reality is that this particular Board Member probably serves on a Board without HR representation, nor does he have any training on recruitment or potential for transferable experience to be advantageous in a new role. Now this is not a disparaging remark on the service of the Board Member but a fact accounting for the lack of diversity within most Boards. It is why mid-level professionals often find themselves in the same conundrum as a recent graduate. How can you demand experience when the employer refuses to give the opportunity to gain that experience officially? This gap in perception, reality, and practice for evaluating talent can be addressed with a holistic organizational talent strategy.

Leaders must embrace being human, and cultivate a HumanR experience in their talent strategy. As Chief Human I partner with clients who are ready to integrate human care for themselves and others through 1:1 leadership coaching. The opportunity for Curahuman and organizations is to create more alignment among Board, Leadership, and staff together. This Board Member’s signature quotes Raymond Williams “To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” I wonder if the Board Member will ever recognize how he had the chance to be truly radical, to make hope possible for a candidate, through remaining curious about the potential in that candidate. Curahuman is about raising awareness to do better and be better wherever you serve, it cultivates the human experience. The employee experience (EX) for employers is at the heart of the experience gap in the talent market.

For those feeling the summertime sadness, there are employers, HR professionals, and leaders alike that are ending this vicious cycle of experience gap creating alignment of perception, reality, and practice. They are truly radical in shifting mindset, perspective, and seeing the potential of your growth. Opportunity finds those who continue to seek out the best for themselves. It’s a positive sum game, with the proper players. Hope and choice provides the ability for us to radically alter the Summertime Sadness for professionals. Let’s build a better workplace for all and see the potential of every individual! If you are ready for the next stage of your leadership development contact me at [email protected]



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CuraHuman was created for underserved communities including small business owners, nonprofit professionals, human resources professionals, managers, directors, and leaders. The goal is to offer Human Resources support as an earlier intervention of workplace productivity and engagement. 

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