People come to My Perfect Gig to look for their perfect engineering gig and in this economy you expect people to to be relentless.   Some folks are unemployed and looking and other have a gig but are keeping their eyes open because many employers are making difficult choices and cutting to the bone (see WSJ article on severance pay).  Despite all of the craziness and stress, we saw people pull away a little this week on the pursuit of career perfection.

We had St. Patricks Day and the kickoff of March Madness this week and that led to a slight drop in how many folks visited to the site.  This is great.  This is normal.  Folks should be taking a deep breath to drink some green beer and watch NCAA March Madness.  The last few months have been a wild ride.  In fact, hasn’t there been so much drama since the Presidential election really heated up last summer.  Everybody needed the slice of normalcy brought to us by St. Patty’s Day and NCAA hoops.  This week’s events along with the start of baseball, gardens perking up and a dash of warm air will provoke people to take a deep breadth as they think about their next career move.   Their next perfect gig.

When the engineers are ready, we know there are a lot of opportunities out their for people trying to find their perfect gig.  We have great clients like CACI, Raytheon, Phase Forward and others looking for great engineering talent.   By the way, it is worth noting that I am 15-1 after the first day of March Madness.

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Everyone piles into a room, grabs a chair, and opens their notebook. You’re in a meeting. If you’ve never worked in an environment where meetings were a regular thing, it can be somewhat of a culture shock. My reaction the first few times was that I would rather be working in my cube productively than getting sucked into a meeting for a few hours. There’s still the occasional meeting that warrants a groan, but I’ve learned it’s often important to be there in person. Topics will undoubtedly come up that, if left in solace, you would be oblivious to. You would not be able to contribute or be able to provide critical feedback on items of discussion. You’re part of a team now and meetings can really help build a strong team over time (or help you become part of an existing one).

The hardest part of meetings is not taking things too personally. Most engineers have some level of personal investment in their projects. Everybody else has personal investments too and it can be all too easy to go on the defensive because someone else has a differing opinion. The more passionate the team is the more often this comes up. I find a great deal of value in those differing opinions, personalities, and goals. Each person on the team has strengths which come to play for the benefit of everyone, your project, and your organization. If you’re receptive, you might even pick up a new perspective from someone who disagrees with you.

Another factor in these meetings is your own contribution. You’ve been hired not just because of your skills but also because someone saw something unique in you that they wanted to bring into their team. Maybe you balance out other perspectives or bring energy to the room that wasn’t there before. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to contribute what you think when it bears relevance to the discussion.

Nathan Levesque is one of the key engineers at My Perfect Gig who makes stuff happen.  Nathan graduated from college in May 2008 and shares his thoughts and insight into the real world of working as an engineer through his blog “My First Gig”.

My final semester at college, although light on the academia, was a bit heavy on the anxiety and stress.  I had not  found a solid job to move on to after graduation. Come February of 2008, most of my evenings were spent scouring the web for opportunities. I took to the usual avenues of rewriting my resume weekly, perusing job boards long into the night, and waking up at 4 am to get to a 9 am interview in Boston at a staffing firm. My searching became increasingly frantic as graduation date loomed nearer and my efforts bordered an obsession. It consumed too much of my social life and my spare time was fraught with worry that wasn’t doing me any good.

As the weeks wore on and my frustrations mounted, my image of the ideal first job out of college became broader. I had become less concerned with finding the perfect job and decided I would be happy finding one that would simply pay the bills. That wasn’t a good place to be; it meant I’d devalued myself by thinking that I was –  in someone’s eye – unqualified for all these jobs. It’s hard when searching for a job not to take these things personally.

The last few weeks of my job search were like a storm. Emails and resumes were flying everywhere and I was getting phone calls at all hours of the day. Then, out of nowhere, I got an email for a job at a company named My Perfect Gig buried among a dozen other job leads. It wasn’t another staffing firm soliciting me; it felt like there was an actual human being on the other end. They were a start-up so there wasn’t much information about them. I arrived at the interview with cautious optimism, but was quickly impressed with the quality of the people and the sophistication of the technology they were working with. I’ll be honest; it was downright exciting that this company wanted to hire me right out of college. Up until this point, I had all the doubts in the world about whether I was going to find the right fit.

They made the offer – YES! I gave myself a few days to be sure, but my mind was already made up; I would accept the job. At that point, I realized I had been persevering through weeks of stress and frustration for a job where I could work with people who were passionate about their job. That passion is infectious.

A few weeks later I attended graduation with a swagger, itching to start my new gig.  I had found My Perfect Gig.

Nathan Levesque is one of the key engineers at My Perfect Gig who makes stuff happen.

Despite the massive layoffs across the board in technology from Big Blue to small-fry tech companies, there appears to be a streak of confidence among the masses. People in technology – engineers, software developers, IT, sales and marketing – seem to be a bit stronger through this crisis than in the past. Some of this may have to do with the bubble bursting on many of us in the dot com era. Or, it may have to do with the hope a new administration promises. More likely, much of it has to do with the stronger backbone which runs through the technology community and the better tools available. There are companies who are growing despite the numbers you see in the headlines.

For every punch a particular technology segment takes, there seems to be a counter punch of growth.
Sprint Nextel cuts while Starent Networks grows
Razorfish reduces staff and we see SolutionSet is hiring
EA does a layoff but iRacing expands

No doubt, these are examples of smaller companies but it shows you a path to hope. In addition, the on- demand tools and infrastructure available to new companies, creates a certain ease of entrepreneurship. This ease and surety to access massive, scalable infrastructure empowers more people to build winning businesses. In addition, the community interacts in a way which has also changed the game. Social networks now hang together in such a way which makes it is easier to connect with old colleagues, network new ones and find new opportunities. You can see this happening in small doses at this stage but it will grow. The speed at which people connect across social networks means that the right skills will find the right Gigs faster than ever. An InMail, a Tweet or a friend request all make the connections a little smoother when assembling a great team. Faster connections mean everybody in the technology space gets back into the game a little quicker, fueling the recovery a little faster. We all become a little tougher and worldly, ready for the next challenge.

What is a perfect gig? How does each of us define our perfect job? How do we navigate through our perfect career?

Working for a company in a job that creatively challenges our skills is the best way for any of us to advance our careers and knowledge, to advance the success of our company, and to enhance the quality of life for ourselves and our families.

For those of us in the technology space, we hope we can find a job that enables us to learn new skills in hot technologies areas. Finding a job that is perfectly matched to your skills, however, is often–and at best–an inefficient and frustrating experience.

The recruitment industry, in fact (except for very highly paid, low-volume recruiters)–makes matching employees and employers virtually impossible. Hiring managers and recruiters don’t usually have the data or tools to work together to ensure that employees and employers are perfectly suited to each other.

What’s missing is a common language that interprets and matches the words, candidates use to describe their skills with the words companies use to describe their job requirements. You have to do the work of breaking down job specifications and resumes into the key requirements. But it must go further; you must get to the bottom of what the “must have” requirements are before you can match candidates to jobs and companies to candidates.

It’s particularly hard in the computer, electronics and semiconductor industries. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this. In fact, my team and I at “My Perfect Gig” have started a company to address this very question.

So, from time to time, I’ll be blogging right here about issues relating to finding your perfect gig. I’ll talk about what skills are most in demand, what tech areas are hot, what regions of the country are booming or busting, as well as anything else you might be interested in. Please use the “Comments” below to tell me what career issues we should discuss here.

In the end, I hope to provide my thoughts on the best practices for you to follow to advance your career and succeed in our high-technology industry.
Working in a job, for a company, perfectly suited to challenge our skills is the best way for any of us to advance our careers and knowledge, to advance the success of our companies, to advance the progress of our world. Blair Heavey, CEO of My Perfect Gig, blogs on the best practices for companies to find the right candidate and for the candidates to find their Perfect Gig. Join us a MyPerfectGig.com.