Original question from Quora:

What languages should I learn if I want to work for Google?

I am currently learning Java and Python. Which one will help me get a chance in google? Once I get the language, should I focus on algorithms or data structure?

My Answer:

The most important language you should learn and master if you want to work for Google is…


This might sound like a flippant, non-technical answer, but I assure you that it isn’t. In fact, learning C++, python, or Java well is not nearly as important to your career at Google or anywhere else as your proficiency in the language English.

Now, to make this answer even more bewildering, I need you to understand that I mean more than just your ability to speak fluently and write well. Those are important skills, but that is not what I mean.

What I mean when I say proficiency with English is nothing to do with writing papers or reading classic literature or even grammar.

Nope. I mean…

Using English to communicate effectively with other people.

Specifically, you will be using English to apply for a job, to make friends, to convince people to do what you need or want them to do, to impress your boss, to ask for a raise, to do a presentation.

95% of what you do at work is communication and 5% is code.

The primary means we have to communicate with each other is language, and at a US based company like Google, that is English.

More importantly, there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands of jobs at Google in customer support, advertising sales, management, accounting, operations, and so on that never touch a line of code, and yet 100% of all Googlers are likely expected to speak and use English well.

So, instead of focusing all your energy on getting 10% better at C++ or data structures in a highly technical way…

Spend your energy to get 50–100% better at explaining your code to your coworkers, or marketing your technical skill, or giving a presentation to a crowd of people.

Those skills will get you further in your career than Python, C++, or Java will.


P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius.