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Category Archives: Job Search

“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.

I attended an event a couple of days ago celebrating the launch of a tasty startup – http://www.bacn.com. Yes, that’s right, bacon without an “o.” The company started as a Twitter Tweet gone berzerk by a bacon-loving software engineer.

If you love bacon, you need to visit this site. You’ll find great recipes, fun t-shirts and, believe it or not … a hot little company focused on how technology changes real lives of real people.

What started out as a fun idea built around his passion is actually growing into a business. Scott Kveton took his love for bacon, searched and found that there were actually a few business needs that he could fill by taking a fresh approach on a much-loved food.

So what does a little startup like this have to do with your life, and how you search for ways to keep a positive attitude through the murk of doom and gloom in the technology industry?

There’s a ton of work to do, but the great news for all of you out there is that innovation is still alive. There are lots of smart people in this country and in our industry. In general, wherever smart money is you’ll also find smart people, and vice versa.

It is clear to me that now is the perfect time to build a new company … whether you are a bacon-lover or someone with experience and vision for the future of cloud computing. Things haven’t been worse in a long, long time. And if we’re not at the bottom yet, we’re not far off.

But even newly formed, innovative startups are only part of the answer. Ask yourself what is behind each killer startup? People. Smart people.

From my well-positioned seat on the sidelines, one message I have not heard anyone broadcasting is this: we’re all in this together, people! We pass each other in the coffee shop, at schools while dropping off our kids, and countless other places. WHEN we pull out of this dive, it will be because a majority of us decided to work together.

That is, after all, what every hotbed of technology has started with: smart people, working together as ambitious individuals. True, many competed with each other, but no one was afraid to step out of the shadows and take a risk, even if it meant failure. I’m starting to see people throw caution to the wind, even if it’s for no other reason than pure desparation and a lack of other options.

As you strive to keep “above the fray” of negativity, realize that you are not alone. Others are fighting this same battle every day. If you are employed, go about your day with a sense of vigor and opportunity. After all, if you’re still employed, it’s probably for a good reason and with a company that has resources to join the other companies with resources to pull out of this funk.

If you are searching for the right job and/or have been let go by your company, take hope in the people you see every day. Connect with people, put some energy into that idea that has been rattling around in your head. And pause for a moment to look into the eyes of the people you pass at your child’s school.

We’re all in this together, friends. In rough times and in good times this has always been our reality.

It’s a crazy time in Silicon Valley and the technology world in general! In this blog, I’ll fill you in on ways to thrive when the rest of the world is struggling to survive.

When you’re looking for a job, two things you’ll always hear from me: Be Yourself (even if you REALLY want that job, or to hire that top talent), and Know YOUR Priorities. Most people go through a job search without really knowing what’s most important to them. Don’t allow that to happen!

I’ve been through these crazy times and finding a new job with a hot startup in the Silicon Valley or the San Francisco area in general is too great a move to make not to do it right.

As I always say … HOW you do something is as important as WHAT you eventually do.

Stay tuned …

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