Levels of Seniority

Graduate Corner

Written by: Libby Taylor.
Photo by: The Balance Careers.

Looking for a new job can be a stressful and confusing time. Whenever you’re scrolling through your job alerts or other vacancy websites, the most frustrating thing is finding the perfect role for you – but you don’t have enough experience in it. Or, the seniority level is too high for a new worker. 

What do these seniority levels mean? Are they important? 

In the workplace, seniority levels refer to a person’s level of responsibility, and the rank that they hold in their job. These different levels of seniority are usually determined by how long a person has been working in their field. 

Employers tend to use seniority levels to categorize their employees by knowledge, skill and experience so they can manage an organized, well-rounded team. 

Workers with a higher seniority role can enjoy many benefits that they’re junior counterparts don’t yet have access to. This includes, a higher salary; some preference in shifts they work; a few extra days of paid holiday, and opportunities for promotion. 

The main issue people have with seniority roles is that they tend to be awarded based on the length of time a person has worked, rather than their performance. This leaves newer workers who could perform amazingly in their fields, less access to additional benefits. 

Though some people have complained that this system of deciding who will be awarded senior roles is outdated, most accept it as they believe that once they become ‘old-workers’ they can enjoy these higher roles. 

The levels of seniority were created to ensure that workers would not be competing with each other in order to win over their manager’s favour. It is also put in place to stop worker’s suffering from lack of opportunities due to favouritism. 

How do levels of seniority affect the recruitment process?

When looking for a job, especially as a recent graduate, you want to earn as much as you can, as quickly as you can. 

With the seniority levels, a new worker will earn, in some cases, considerably less income than another employee with the same job as them just because they are newer to the role. This causes individuals to look elsewhere for a job that will pay more, and in their eyes, fairly. 

However, with that being said in the new age of equality, more ‘forward-thinking’ workplaces are beginning to hire employees based on their experience and skill set, and award them job roles and opportunities based on how they work, not how long. 

With the arguably outdated seniority level system, when recruiting a new employee, a contradiction can come into play. If a person needs five years of experience of working in a similar role for example, why would they start at the bottom and work alongside people with a more senior role who have had less experience?

According to the Indeed website, to stop this kind of thing happening, there are three levels a new employee can apply through in order to get a job that suits their skills. 

The first level is entry-level which is the lowest form of seniority. Entry-level is for people just starting out in the field and looking to find work that will give them more experience and expertise. They will also learn how the company operates from a more senior level of staff. 

The second level is mid-level which is the level of seniority a person will be in once they have gained more experience in their work. This also involves managing lower-level employees whilst still reporting to a higher-level member of staff. 

The final level is senior-level which is the highest form of seniority. It involves a high level of knowledge on how the company works and a lot of experience, knowledge, and responsibilities. 

When applying for jobs it is important to look out for the roles that suit your experience and your skillset if you can. If you have the right experience, try and look out for mid-level entry jobs that will award you accordingly to your experience. 

Don’t be disheartened by the seniority levels if you think you wont earn as much for being a new worker – more and more companies want to pay their employees based on their skills, not the length of time they have worked. 

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