Professional competitions or challenges can be a great way to test your skills, build your portfolio and get your work in front of other professionals in your field. It's another way to boost your credentials without taking classes or seeking out freelance gigs.
Picture: Andrew Eland/Flickr
We've mentioned in the past that photographers can make use of competitions to test their skills and get criticism on their work, but the same principle applies to just about any field, whether it's creative or not. An obvious example for developers is hackathons.
Over at the Glassdoor blog, Heather Hulman explains competitions also allow you to meet new people and show off your abilities:
Entering a competition is a great way to get involved with something you're passionate about and to truly challenge yourself. It's easy to get caught up in your job search and forget about what you love about your field. By entering a competition, you'll give yourself the opportunity to work on something you want to, and even have the chance to be recognised for your success. Competitions give you the opportunity to have your creative work judged, become recognised by professionals, and of course, add another accomplishment to your resume. This type of involvement will show employers you take initiative, which is a trait many desire.
Now, in the event you lose the competition, don't think it all goes to waste. You're going to have the opportunity to work on a project you love and have a finished project to add to your portfolio. Your efforts will show employers you are actively seeking opportunities in your field and want to showcase what you can do outside of the workplace.
It's true -- you shouldn't enter a competition on the expectation that winning will get you somewhere in your job search. In this case, it really is more important to participate, and "how you play the game" really does matter more than whether you win or lose. Use the opportunity to show off your skills, try your hardest, and network with professionals you can learn from. Then do it again and see if your skills have improved.
4 Ways to Boost Your Career Credentials Without Going Back to School [Glassdoor Blog]