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Category Archives: Competitive Edge

“Mike – how do I keep my edge? How do I stay on top of my game?”

Over the last few months I have had numerous conversations with people who all asked this question. And this comes from people who are currently employed with companies that are performing well, not just the many who find themselves unexpectedly out of a job.

As any professionaly in technology will admit, just because you are employed today, doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. It’s a competitive, dog-eat-dog industry filled with intelligent and talented people looking to keep their competitive edge. And in these tougher economic times, it is more important than ever to understand how to do this.

So are you ready for the “secret sauce?” Before I tell you, make sure your office door is closed. This is too enlightening to leak to those competitors!

Your competitive edge …

… is YOU!

I have been fortunate to recruit for some of the brightest minds in our industry, including one of the founders of Oracle, the founder of eFax, the founder of Coremetrics, members of Sun Microsystem’s OAK group, which was the original Java team, and many, many more. What do they all have in common?

Yes, they are smart, well-educated, driven people. But the most surprising character trait? They are comfortable in their own skin. You will not find them spewing “corporate-speak.” You won’t find them burying their competition with speeches about the next best widget they discovered during their sleep. You also won’t find them leveraging their career on work ethic alone.

What I have learned about these people is that they understand their strengths and limitations better than most people. They do not work to inflate their strengths. They do not work to hide their weaknesses. And in addition to all of this, they are down-to-earth people who are confident, yet understated.

Earlier this week I spoke with a marketing professional who, in a thin job market, has been fortunate enough to find 3 or 4 VERY viable opportunities and has gone through multiple interviews with each company. One of the companies he interviewed with is known for having a high standard, and a specific idea of the people they want to hire. We talked for a while about how he has been so fortunate.

His secret? Honesty, clarity and sincere dialogue. He doesn’t work too hard to impress people, rather he listens really well. He asks the questions that come to mind, even if some of them may be difficult to answer or run the risk of being “off limits.” In short, he is just being himself.

While it may be difficult to do this, what I can tell you is that this IS the roadmap for the careers of some of our industry’s brightest leaders. Whether you are job searching, or trying to maintain a competitive edge in your current company, I encourage you to try this. Relax a bit, ask questions that are the product of sincere curiosity. And above all, be your true self.