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What Employers Mean by Equivalent Experience

By Alison Doyle, Job Searching Expert

When an employer mentions equivalent experience in a job posting it can mean either experience in lieu of some educational requirements or non-paid experience, like an internship or volunteer work, in place of paid work experience. If you have the required experience, you will be considered for employment without a Bachelor's degree, other college degree, or certification.

For example, a job listing may state a required certification or a college degree and/or experience in the field.

Examples of Job Listings With Experience in Lieu of a Degree

In lieu of degree, additional work experience and/or trade school is acceptable.

  • Six (6) months of experience as a unit secretary, ward clerk, medical office assistant, or nursing assistant will be accepted in lieu of the required course work.
  • BA required, MA preferred. In lieu of degree, 10+ years of relevant experience.
  • BA/BS degree preferred, although long tenure as an Executive Assistant at a top firm can offset this.


In Lieu Of Work Experience

In addition, experience other than on-the-job experience may suffice for work requirements. For example, an employer may state that they will consider leadership experience in clubs, volunteer work, internships, or community service in place of formal work experience. Here's an example:

  • A minimum of 6 months work experience in sales, customer service or management, or equivalent experience.

How to Mention Equivalent Experience When You Apply

When you apply for jobs, it's important to clearly state in your applications, cover letters and interviews what constitutes your equivalent experience. Emphasize the components of your equivalent experience which are most related to the job and prove that you have the core competencies to excel in the position.

If you are interested in the job, always give yourself the benefit of the doubt as you assess whether or not you possess the equivalent experience. Don't screen yourself out, leave that decision to the employer after you have made the best case for your candidacy.