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What recession? How to land great new tech sector gig — today.

[ok, from CNN/Money, a little upbeat news today for those of you/us who are demoralized about the jobless economy.]

By Christopher Lochhead, strategy advisor and former chief marketing officer, Mercury Interactive

Do you love your work? Are you at a winning company? Are you part of an ass-kicking team?

Does your company have a real technology competitive advantage? Are you making the money you want? Is your company handling the economic downturn well? If the answer to these questions is no, it’s time to quit.

Most people think that an economic crisis is a time for keeping their heads down and hoping they won’t be in the the next round of lay-offs.

Wrong.

Legendary people have legendary jobs at legendary companies. Most of us spend more time working than we do with the people we love. So, if you’re going to invest so much of your life working, shouldn’t i be great?

Now, if you’re out of work and need to put food on the table you may be forced to grab the first decent offer that comes along. And there’s no question that in this recession jobs are scarce. But don’t sell yourself short, or deny your talents. You deserve a great job.

The key is to find companies that are using the recession to upgrade their teams. Adds Paul Daversa, CEO of executive recruiters Daversa Partners: “While it may take longer – and be harder – in this environnment, there are still good jobs for good people in this economy.”

From my perch in the Sierra Mountains above Silicon Valley, I’m seeing signs of recovery and new business creation, which should translate into new career opportunities.

In the last six to nine months, for example, I’ve been surprised by the uptick in promising new software and hardware categories. I get the impression that corporations, hungry for ways to cut costs or stay ahead of their competitors, are exploring breakthrough technologies more aggressively today than they were two years ago.

They’re willing to take chances on a new software, service or device developed by relatively small players. These small fry, in turn, need seasoned talent to help lead them.

Regardless of the type of new ship you jump to, taking smart risks now can pay-off in big ways, especially when everyone else is playing safe. Now may be the perfect time for a bold personal move.

If you do make the leap, here are 10 things to look for in a new job, in no particular order.

A company in a growing market, with a strong brand and leading position
A company with products/services that customers view as aspirin (read: essential), not a vitamin (in other words, a supplement). In bad economies, nobody takes their vitamins
A strong balance sheet, with lots of cash
A legendary executive team (legendary people build companies that are, well, you get the idea)
A company that is investing in the future (new products, new technology, and new sales & marketing campaigns).
A relationship with someone inside who can be a solid reference for you (the best jobs come through relationships)
A great role (something that really turns you on)
A great boss you can learn from
A winning team of people you really like to work with
An opportunity to make great money
Many people make the mistake of choosing the compensation package and title first. While those things matter, what matters most is the market opportunity, the company, the exec team, your role, and your direct boss. If you get those right, you’ll have fun, learn a lot, and make good money.

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