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Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. | Reply
Joel Spolsky recommends to mention your topcoder participation in cover letter as indication of being an enthusiastic programmer.

Would anyone except for Joel himself ever notice it?
Can it deliver the message to the employer (if they did notice)?
What's the minimum rating/percentile that is worth mentioning?
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by muxecoid) | Reply
I cannot see any potential negative to the inclusion of this information.

If I'm reading a customized cover letter and a candidate mentioned being a member/user/afflilate/founder/whatever of something in a manner that implied relevance - and I was unfamiliar with it - I'd certainly google it. Would everyone? No, but if even some do, it certainly seems worth inclusion.

If it were to somehow come up during the interview (I'd say it's worth bringing up if the interviewer doesn't) it would demonstrate passion and an interest in self-development - two characteristics of successful people in general. It certainly could set you apart from other candidates.

Interestingly, just from a recruiting standpoint for some non-technical roles, I've reached out to people and heard "I know who you guys are" more than I'd expected. I imagine the odds of someone likely to hire a TC member knowing of us has to be higher than in that particular candidate pool.

As to actually listing the rating itself, I'm not so sure I see much value to that but I'm interested in what others think.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by jdellaripa) | Reply
I don't mention TopCoder on my CV because:

a) Very few people have heard of it in the UK.
b) I feel my less than stellar rating does not create a good impression.

I will relate the following story however:

I work for a well known financial services company.

Last year I was offered an interview at a well known US bank (not one of the ones that has subsequenctly disappeard/merged).

After passing a couple of phone interviews I was called in for a face to face at their offices. The first thing that happened was I was given an exam paper and told I had one hour to answer as much as possible.

Virtually all the questions were algorithm related and suprisingly language agnostic and I sailed through it.

I did well enough to be called back for a second interview. About the eighth guy I was interviewed by said he wanted to ask me about data structures and algorithms. I mentioned that I had a keen interest in these subject which had been triggered by a poor performance in the TC Google code jam I had stumbled upon a few years earlier. This made me realise that although I was working as a professional programmer I was really just implementing business logic.

This prompted me to spend my commuting time studying the various topics in Cormen et al and trying to solve problems from TopCoder and USACO.

The interviewer seemed impressed and this gave me the opportunity to talk about things I understood and was interested in (answering questions along the way).

Unfortunately I was not offered the job (despite being convinced I was going to get an offer). Naturally I blame global financial forces beyond my control for this! If TC hadn't stimulated my interest in algorithms I wouldn't have even got an interview in the first place.

Believe it or not there are a lot of programmers out there that don't have much of a grounding in computer science.

Stumbling across TC inspired me to develop my skills in this area and has made me a much better programmer. Employers realise that people that have an interest in a subject are likely to push themselves harder to succeed.

Cheers.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by Stroker_Ace) | Reply
I have mentioned it sometimes... however on the design/dev/architecture side you can have a poor rating and still talk about how you won several contests, earning $thousands.

Most people haven't heard of TC but anyone who is obviously genuinely interested in programming will get interviewers interested.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by muxecoid) | Reply
I didn't mention TC by name on my CV, but I certainly put contest programming in the section on my interests. I didn't put my rating, but IIRC I did put my percentile ("ranked in the top x%" or something like that). I would have mentioned TC explicitly had they asked about how I could make such a claim.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by muxecoid) | Reply
I don't see any harm there. It always helps.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by muxecoid) | Reply
I did mention TopCoder in my CV, in 'Computer Skills' part, 'Algorithmics' - I wanted to stress the fact that I have some knowledge in the are, despite the fact I don't really have a CS education.

I have an interview next monday, so I will tell you if this was interpreted as an advantage, or rather neglected.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by Mloody2000) | Reply
So how was your interview, Mloody2000 ?
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by madcong) | Reply
I got the internship :D.

They asked me about TC, but they never heard about before.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by muxecoid) | Reply
Is it a good idea to mention TC Bug Fixes in CV as a skill? ;D
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by mistr305) | Reply
"Bug race" doesn't mean much. You could say "Worked with TopCoder Software to fix bugs in several Java/J2EE/Hibernate applications" - it looks more like something normal companies would understand.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by mistr305) | Reply
In your case, it helps show you are good at fixing other people's bugs, so that seems like a good thing to mention.
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