How to Gain More Useful Experience if You are Rejected

Hello nerds! I hope you are fine. Now I am actively looking for a job, trying myself in different IT areas, looking for myself, so to speak, and I came up with the idea to write an article about where to find the very experience that every employer requires, where to get work experience if you just graduated from the university and worked only as a waiter in a local cafe. For a developer job, I'm afraid that such experience will not be enough.

In this post, you will not learn how to deceive an employer or what are the tricks that would help you avoid the question of work experience. I do not want anyone to lie in an interview, I think that this is wrong and in any case, lying will end badly for you. I just want to tell you about what equates to work experience. Some of your failed things you didn’t even think of as work experience. About everything in order. Let's go!

Test tasks

Agree that before you are called for an interview, in 99% of cases you will have to complete a test task. Otherwise, 1% of the test task is given after the interview (strange people who do not respect other people's work, I think). Test tasks are different and depend on the vacancy you are applying for, but they are always closely related to the real tasks that you potentially have to perform in this position.

For example, for some time I worked as a project manager, and it was important for the employer to show that I am eloquent, able to present my idea, prove my case and demonstrate charm and openness to people. The interview was like an audition for an acting troupe, where I was preparing a presentation about something. Then I was refused a new job, but I never get rid of my test tasks, but keep them in a folder on Google Drive. And I advise you to do the same.

The fact is that, as I have already said, a test task is a solution to a specific task, the real task of the company. So why not attribute the solution to this problem to relevant work experience. Even if you weren't accepted, you should never get rid of your website design for a non-profit organization. This is another project for your portfolio and another project where you showcase your knowledge and skills. So why shouldn't this project be a work experience.

I strongly advise you not to get rid of test tasks ever. I should have mentioned this in an article about my 100 interviews and what they taught me (by the way, if you haven’t read it, I strongly advise you to read the post at the link).

Personal Project

Everyone has their own personal project. You may not even have thought about its existence, but it definitely exists. It could be a site that you develop in your spare time while drinking beer while watching a series. The site can do anything from instructions for caring for kittens to a web application where you can play the drums. Anything.

The difficulty for many is that they are embarrassed by their personal projects, their personal work and skills. For me, it has always been a surprise. If I wrote a web application where I could play the virtual guitar with the keyboard, I would share everything with it, I would insert it into every portfolio and resume, and this was the first thing I would talk about at the interview.

The project can be something less public and simple - for example, social research. About six months ago, I wrote a small analysis of the finished dataset on Kaggle, where I tried to analyze and visualize on the chart which words are most often used in fake news. And this may well come in handy as work experience, because experience implies that you have used the skills and knowledge that are expected of you in this job.

Whatever the personal project is in terms of topic and scale, being shy and deliberately forgetting about it is a bad idea, because someone with a more frivolous project, but not so shy, will end up higher on the list of candidates than you.


I believe sandboxes will someday replace resumes. Who cares what your education is and where you studied, in my opinion it is much more interesting what place you take on Kaggle or Hacker Rank. For those who do not understand what I mean - sandboxes are something like thematic platforms where users show their skills, receive internal rewards and thus occupy a certain position in the top among all participants.

In my opinion, sandboxes are quite an objective indicator of a candidate's skill. There are a huge number of sandboxes now, and I am sure that you can pick up something for yourself. If it is important for your future career to show SQL skills, welcome to Hacker Rank or SQL Academy, if it is important for you to show Python skills, welcome to Hack The Box, if you work with data, then obviously your choice will most likely fall on Kaggle. I used these sandboxes very actively, so I'm talking about them.

For a while I worked as a junior information security specialist in a startup, and I was interviewed by one guy who had just graduated from university and had no work experience. So, he was hired for the position of junior penetration tester because he has 7th place on Hack The Box nationwide. Then I was not surprised, because I was already familiar with Kaggle, where competitions are organized according to the same principle. I think this is great practice, and I hope that sandboxes and user achievements will soon replace resumes.

Posts and Articles

At this point, I'm not talking about posts on Instagram where you sunbathe and drink tequila, but posts that are more or less related to your professional activities. Here, for example, our website or our Reddit. Here, anyone can publish their article, their efforts and works. For some, this is just self-expression, but for someone it can become a line in the resume with a link to the publication.

What is important here is not the article itself, but the analysis that you carried out when writing it, what sources you used, how you expressed your thoughts and how the material was presented (accessible, with visual examples, and so on). I would not advise you to attach links to all your articles in your portfolio or resume, but it is worth mentioning only the most difficult for you, those that you are proud of.

In my experience, if you mention your article or publication in your resume, then you will be asked at most why you decided to write an article about this particular topic, what prompted you to write an article on this particular topic. No one will argue with you, but this is not necessary. The main purpose of this article is to show you as a versatile, hardworking and person who understands what he is talking about. The article is also a great item to tell about yourself.


Work experience is now a huge problem for young professionals in any country in the world. I have worked in IT in 3 countries and believe me, I know what I'm talking about. Experience accumulates over the years, but the essence of it is that it is not just a number to get an achievement, like in a game, but it is an indicator that you are competent. This competence can be shown in different ways, including the ways I wrote about above.


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