Want To Stand Out Amongst Software Engineers? Try Competitive Programming

Want To Stand Out Amongst Software Engineers? Try Competitive Programming

In a world full of established talent and up-and-coming self-trained coders, it can be hard to stand out as a senior software engineer. However, if you’re looking to differentiate yourself from peers or seeking an edge against the competition in job interviews, you should consider competitive programming.

Participating in competitive events offers a range of benefits that will make your resume more attractive to employers, increase your skill set, heighten your visibility, and give you a unique wellspring of experiences to draw from in your job interview and later in your career.

Here are some powerful ways competitive programming will help your career take off.

Competitions will make you faster and more focused

Maxim Buzdalov, international coding champion and Associate professor of computer technologies, notes that the fast-paced problem-solving during a competition teaches you “how to be more focused on the task and not only complete it quickly, but accurately,” because otherwise, of course, you will lose.

This training and practice garnered from quick, accurate problem-solving is a real asset in the workplace. Wins in competitive events will provide tangible evidence to future employers of your skills, precision, and success.

Competitions will increase your ability to work in teams through exposure to other coders

As Forbes suggests, often coders work in very small groups and only see the code of a few other peers. This isolation can lead to both overconfidence and laziness. It is important to recognize when others have something to teach you and allow yourself to face challenges.

When you compete in international trials, you are exposed to an elite cadre of coders from around the world. This provides you with a unique opportunity to learn from them as you work with and against them.

Competitions are often composed of teams. This provides a special opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from the best of the best in your field from around the world. It is an invaluable experience that many other candidates probably don’t have.

Competitions will prepare you to solve interview questions

Top programmer Nitin Gangahar credits his participation in competitive programming for adding a wide range of benefits to his career. One of these, he notes, is the preparation to respond confidently to interview questions.

Gangahar notes that “your skill set rises, for sure, when you are solving problems on such a regular basis, and hence, it helps you to solve interview questions as well,” adding that this is a huge advantage for jobseekers. Many interview coaches recommend getting practice with potential interview problems.

Competitive programming will make you a more desirable employee

The kinds of problems you will need to solve and the kinds of debugging solutions you will generate reflect the work that major corporations need to do.

Big companies like Google and Amazon know your success in a competition is a credential attesting to your ability to work quickly and accurately as part of a team. The lines on your CV listing your accomplishments and wins in competitive programming will not go unnoticed by interviewers and decision-makers.

Related: Code Your Career: Staying Competitive in the Developer Job Market (VIDEO)

You will receive invaluable exposure to top employers

As Buzdalov makes clear, employers such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and IBM attend and watch the major competitive programming competitions. These major companies also often sponsor competitions for the unique access they provide to both established and rising talent. Big tech companies understand how valuable these competitions are to finding new talent.

Buzdalov still participates in competitions as part of his training and mentoring of his students. While he’s happy in academia, he knows firsthand how much companies recruit from contests. “At this point in my career, I am tutoring learners, but I still receive job offers. Even though I am not looking to join the corporate world, once a year, Google checks in to see if I am interested in working with them!”

So wherever you are in your career path just starting out or an experienced coder it’s a good idea to research programming competitions and give them a try.

Doing so will increase your visibility, marketability, and value to your current and future employers.

Participate in upcoming coding challenges to showcase your skills!

Originally published May 2018. Updated by Hired Content Team August 2023.