The Permission Paradox

What do you do when you need experience for a job but don’t have enough experience for that job? It’s time to break the paradox!

The Paradox

The permission paradox describes a difficult state. It sometimes applies to job hunting. You are looking for a job. That job requires experience, but you don’t have enough. In order to get the needed experience, you need the job. What’s a body to do?

Gatekeeper Guidelines

Most job postings will have a litany of requirements and nice-to-haves that are likely never realized at any one time inside a single person. Even so, there are minimum requirements to even qualify for consideration. These are usually well-meaning prerequisites for companies and individuals in order to promote good match making.

If you’re starting a new career or changing careers, this can be especially challenging. You don’t start a new thing with the experience needed to jump the gap and make the transition. This can be frustrating. It’s hard to fight against inertia. You want someone to take a chance on you. You need an in.

Junior Programmers

The paradox is particularly poignant for the junior programmer. Almost by definition, he is under-qualified. Many companies are unready to invest in junior programmers. And as a junior, you really need a lot of investment. You can find a company that is ready and practiced. You can find a place with a legit training program. When you find this, it’s a huge boon.

Or you can take the burden of experience upon yourself. The buck always stops there, right? It’s sometimes painful, sometimes empowering. If you get a reply from an engineering recruiter, “Sorry, we’re looking for someone with more experience”, that can be a cue to make some more experiences for yourself.

Software Self Learning

The permission paradox is generally true. You need to make a future for yourself. You break the paradox by providing the experience you need independent of the job.

Some industries make this easier than others. This is one of the awesome attributes of the software industry. There are many, any resources available for self learning. In the age of the Internet, if you have ambition, you can change your skills and change your life.

That I get to focus on making this more true for more people is one of the great pleasures I have of working at Pluralsight.

Have you felt this permission paradox in your life? How did you get around it?