Tech skill

C Skills

All about C

What is C?

C is a general-purpose, procedural programming language developed in the early 1970s by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs. It is a low-level language with features that map closely to the machine instructions of typical CPUs. Having C skills provides direct control over hardware resources and memory management.

C is highly portable and can be compiled and run on a wide range of platforms, including Unix, Linux, Windows, macOS, and embedded systems. This makes it suitable for developing cross-platform applications and system software. C also has a rich ecosystem of libraries and tools, including the C Standard Library, POSIX APIs, and third-party libraries. This enables developers to access a range of functionality and resources for building complex software systems.

What to use C for

  • System Programming: C is commonly used for system programming tasks such as developing operating systems, device drivers, kernels, and system utilities, thanks to its low-level features, direct access to hardware resources, and ability to interface with system APIs and libraries.
  • Embedded Development: C is widely used for embedded development, including firmware development for microcontrollers, IoT devices, and embedded systems, thanks to its efficiency, low overhead, and ability to interact directly with hardware peripherals and sensors.
  • Application Development: C can also be used for application development, particularly for performance-critical applications such as graphics rendering engines, game engines, scientific simulations, and high-performance computing (HPC) applications, where efficiency and speed are paramount.
  • Cross-Platform Development: C is suitable for cross-platform development, enabling developers to write code that can be compiled and run on multiple platforms with minimal modifications, thanks to C’s portability and standardized language features.
  • Legacy Codebases: C is often used for maintaining and extending legacy codebases written in C or interfacing with legacy systems and libraries, thanks to its compatibility with older code and its ability to integrate seamlessly with other languages and technologies.

Get more insights in Hired’s Software Engineer Trends series, including Trends in Software Engineer Tech Skills: 2024 Report.

What is a C developer?

Here’s what it means to be a C developer:

  • Systems Programmer: A C developer is a systems programmer who specializes in using C programming language for developing system software, embedded systems, and performance-critical applications.
  • Proficient in C: A C developer is proficient in C programming language, including its syntax, data types, control structures, pointers, memory management, and standard library functions, enabling them to write efficient, reliable, and maintainable code for a wide range of applications.
  • Understanding of Computer Architecture: A C developer has a solid understanding of computer architecture, including CPU, memory, storage, and I/O subsystems, and familiarity with assembly language and low-level programming concepts, enabling them to optimize code for performance and resource usage.
  • Experience with System APIs: A C developer has experience with system APIs and libraries, such as POSIX APIs, system calls, device drivers, and system utilities, enabling them to interact with hardware resources, file systems, network interfaces, and other system components in their applications.
  • Debugging and Optimization Skills: A C developer has strong debugging and optimization skills for diagnosing and fixing bugs, optimizing code for performance, memory usage, and scalability, and profiling code to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in their applications.
  • Continuous Learner: A C developer is a lifelong learner who stays updated with the latest advancements in C programming language, system programming techniques, embedded development tools, and best practices, and actively seeks opportunities for learning and professional development to enhance their skills and stay competitive in the field.

Most important C developer skills in 2024

  • C Programming: Mastery of C programming language and its core features, including pointers, memory management, data structures, control structures, and standard library functions, enabling developers to write efficient, reliable, and portable code for various applications and platforms.
  • Embedded Systems Development: Proficiency in embedded systems development with C, including firmware development, hardware interfacing, real-time programming, and low-level optimizations, for developing applications for microcontrollers, IoT devices, and embedded systems with stringent resource constraints.
  • Systems Programming: Experience in systems programming with C, including operating systems development, device driver development, kernel programming, and system utilities development, for building system software and system-level applications that interact directly with hardware resources and system APIs.
  • Debugging and Optimization: Strong debugging and optimization skills for diagnosing and fixing bugs, profiling code, optimizing performance, memory usage, and resource utilization, and identifying and resolving bottlenecks and inefficiencies in C applications.
  • Cross-Platform Development: Familiarity with cross-platform development techniques and tools for writing portable and platform-independent code in C, including platform abstractions, conditional compilation, and build systems, for targeting multiple platforms with a single codebase.

Why should you hire C developers?

  • Efficiency and Performance: C developers enable you to build efficient and high-performance applications, thanks to C’s low-level features, direct access to hardware resources, and optimization capabilities, making it suitable for developing performance-critical software in domains such as system programming, embedded development, and high-performance computing.
  • Portability and Compatibility: C developers provide portability and compatibility for your applications, thanks to C’s cross-platform support, standardized language features, and compatibility with legacy code and systems, enabling you to target multiple platforms and integrate seamlessly with existing software and infrastructure.
  • Expertise in Systems Programming: C developers bring expertise in systems programming, including operating systems development, device driver development, and system utilities development, enabling you to build robust and reliable system software and system-level applications that interact directly with hardware resources and system APIs.
  • Investment in Legacy Codebases: C developers help you maintain and extend legacy codebases written in C or interfacing with legacy systems and libraries, ensuring the continued operation and compatibility of your software systems and enabling you to modernize and optimize your codebase for future needs.

Assess tech candidates for C skills

Looking for candidates skilled in C? Technical assessments are a multi-pronged solution. They allow you to streamline the hiring process and reduce bias with tech skill-focused benchmarks. 

Hired Assessments offers a library of hundreds of questions and customizable coding challenge campaigns tailored to technical preferences. Centralize and standardize your evaluation process as you surface top talent with specific, hard-to-find skills.

See how Mastercard and Axon used Hired Assessments to vet top candidates. See more examples of Customer Success Stories.

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C resources

Check out our resources to continue sharpening your C skills.

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