How to Hack Work Experience When Job Hunting

How to Hack Work Experience When Job Hunting

Ever since my very first internship in 2nd year University, I have been very interested in how hiring and recruitment works in the Tech Industry. I spent a lot of time in varsity making sure I graduate with the best possible chance of landing a good job given my unfortunate circumstances as an economic migrant. Unsurprisingly, work experience is one the biggest barriers for graduates looking for jobs… So I needed to find a way to “hack the system”.

I soon realised that work experience is simply a (flawed) measurement of how much you know something. We all know it not a good measure which is precisely why we hate it so much; just like how a degree is not a good measure of how smart you are. Thinking back now, it sounds so obvious but it took me a while to wrap my head around it.

The Standard Bank building in Cape Town CBD
The Standard Bank building in Cape Town CBD

So why is work experience so important? It’s simple really. The longer you do something, the better you become at it and the more you know about that thing. It therefore it makes sense to hire people who have more years of experience. If you build backend applications using Django for 5 years, you are going to have a better understanding of the limitations and strengths of that technology than someone who has been doing it for a year… Well, in an ideal world that is.

Thing is, humans are complicated. We learn things in very different ways and some pick up things instantly while it takes longer for some. With this in mind, you can start looking at work experience requirements as an average with a certain standard deviation and most importantly, there’s outliers too 😎… And companies love outliers 😍 (the right outliers of course 👀)

The Caste of Good Hope, Cape Town
The Caste of Good Hope, Cape Town

So how do you get around the whole work experience thing? If you are applying for a job that requires 5 years of work experience, just make sure you are as good as someone they expect to have 5 years of experience. The only way you will ever be able to do this is through a lot of hard work and grind. You MUST BE outstanding among your peers and people at your level. You MUST BE competitive with people several levels above you. Take those extra certifications, take on the extra side project or client, do as much as you can to put yourself ahead of the game and you will soon find those work experience requirements far less intimidating.

Another Standard Bank Building in Cape Town CDB
Another Standard Bank Building in Cape Town CDB

As you are doing all that exceptional work, it helps to make it easily accessible by building an online presence and a pretty CV to go with it. Feel free to check out my posts on those topics too.

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Vongani Lan
Vongani Lan
2 years ago

Mhoro Tino, I came across your content a few days ago and I love and appreciate what you are putting out there. I always get a warm and proud feeling when I see someone enjoy this country as much as I do. I myself have been in Cape Town for 3 years now, and as much as it’s far more expensive than being up North, it’s worth it to stay in such beautiful landscapes. Totally unrelated, I too, find the Shona culture fascinating. I’m currently in a relationship and hoping to marry my Shona girlfriend. As a result, I have… Read more »

4 years ago

[…] A computer science is usually a basic requirement for a lot of these roles out there but it does not at all prepare you for pretty much any of them. I.T. Is a very practical field. The only way to prepare for these roles is to study specific certifications and courses that can prepare you for such roles and/or to start building/designing applications for those platforms. Have a look at a previous article I wrote on how to hack work experience. […]

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