Tips to Successfully Evaluate Application Developer Candidate Skills

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

Here’s a scenario to illustrate the evaluation process of a candidate. It starts like this: I just received five candidates for an Application Developer position. What’s next?

Ready to see some step-by-step tips on how to properly evaluate Application Development candidate skills?

In-depth resume review
When looking at the five Application Developer candidates mentioned in the scenario, start with an in-depth resume review. Specifically, I am looking at how much overall experience the candidates have, if they have a degree and if so in what and from where, and particular technology skills. Has the candidate worked in a government or commercial environment? What is the average tenure for each position? Are they job hopping? If I see shorter-term contracts from someone in a hands-on technology role, such as Angular Development, Java Software Engineer or DevOps, then there’s possibly other factors preventing them from reaching tenure. All of these are things to keep in mind.

You should be spending a short time reviewing the resume when you are using the steps above as your guide. From there, you decide if it’s a yes, no, or maybe to move forward. The yes and no candidates are easy to either select for interview or disposition. You are going to want to speak with those in the “maybe” pile, but there are likely concerns based on the red flags you discovered in your initial resume review. The “maybe” candidates could well be diamonds in the rough and may just need some polishing. Did the candidate simply not include the right information in their resume or are they on the verge of being a “yes” candidate and merely need an opportunity to hone their skills. The “maybe” candidates are ones where you find great candidates that work within your budget and that others are not interviewing because of the initial resume review. The bottom line is, if I find something that is remotely interesting, I’m going to talk with the candidate. I spend that time ensuring a candidate is a solid “yes” and not just a “maybe” based on their resume writing skills. With a “maybe”, it’s possible to see a specific skill that has not been expanded upon in the resume. At that point, it is worth talking to them to see what they know.

The most important thing to look at when evaluating an Application Developer candidate’s resume is their spelled-out expertise in a particular skill. Whether it’s Java or Angular, it is important to see and evaluate the specifics. Proven experience in the body of the resume is also very important in the assessment process. Clients need to also keep an open mind when it comes to evaluation and consider if specific skills are easily trainable or if learning with on-the-job-training is possible. In other words, how can you evaluate a “maybe” in order to decide if you should invest to get that ROI? Overall, the candidate needs to be the right fit for the role and the organization – personally, technically and culturally.
Tech Careers
Lastly, when you are looking at the Application Developer candidate’s resume, look at their career progression. If a candidate is not advancing and has stayed in the same position for 15 years, you should probably move on to someone that has grown into more of a leadership role or a more senior role.

Follow up in the phone screen/interview
There is usually an initial phone screen where technical evaluation takes place. Here, it’s determined if the Application Developer candidate is eligible to move forward with a face-to-face interview. Some personality shows through a phone screen, but you are really going to see it and know if you have a true cultural fit when interviewing in person.

In the in-person interview, you also get into a deeper technical conversation where maybe the candidate is asked to white board something. A white board session during the interview is beneficial depending on the role; however, it should be mentioned in the phone screen before the candidate comes in for the in-person interview. Always let the candidate know what to expect so they are prepared.

General advice
When it comes to evaluating the skills of an Application Developer candidate, you want to keep an open mind. The idea of the Goldilocks candidate happens so infrequently – this candidate is too *this* and this candidate is too *that,* but this candidate is *juuuuuuuuuust right!* There is a lot of give and take. As the interviewer, you need to decide what concessions you are able to make for each position.

When evaluating a candidate, remember that you are not the only game in town. Today’s technology candidates have many options, so take the opportunity to close them when you decide they are a solid fit for your role. If you are interested in the candidate, ask them if they would accept the position if it was offered to them based on what they heard in the interview. Pre-close the candidate, find out if they are interested, and address any obstacles.

If you come across an Application Developer candidate that has most of what you want, but lacks a couple of areas, ask yourself if it is trainable and if there is someone to support them in the ramp-up. Look at the fact that the perfect candidate is likely a needle in a haystack, so what are your options? As an interviewer, if you are 75% sure that they are the right candidate, you should close them. If you see an opportunity, don’t hesitate to take it. Good luck in your interviews.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients – from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms – in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com

Java Developers, have you developed your candidate elevator pitch

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Blaine W. Smith

Picture this scenario: You’re a Java Developer. You are at a networking event and you are approached by someone who turns out to be the CEO of a large tech organization. The CEO strikes up a conversation and asks, “who you are and what do you do?” How do you respond? Additionally, you are in an interview and are asked, “tell me about you?”

This is the type of situation where you want an elevator pitch. A candidate elevator pitch is a professional summary of who you are and what you do in a nutshell. It’s listing your values, experiences, skills, and career goals in about 60-90 seconds. Even though this is short pitch, it should be compelling enough to grab someone’s attention and interest. Having an elevator pitch is a great way to give a quick introduction of yourself to hiring managers. This article gives key points on how to construct your candidate elevator pitch and use it successfully.

Elements you should include
In your candidate elevator pitch, you want to get the main point across about who you are in your career. You don’t want to list your entire resume and long-term career goals, but a very shortened version of that. Think about being in an elevator; you have a very limited amount of time before you reach the next floor and the hiring manager your talking to steps out. As a Java Developer, your pitch should include a quick overview of your technology skills and qualifications, notable companies and roles you were/are involved in, tenure (if it applies), significant accomplishments, and your next career move. You don’t need to go too in depth, but give enough information to make your point. You never know where a 60 second conversation leads you.

Constructing your candidate elevator pitch
When constructing your elevator pitch as a Java Developer, you should begin by writing it out. Don’t try to do it in your head, because you are never going to get it the same every time. Writing it out gives you a clear path of what to say and allows for easy memorization. As a technology candidate, you want to go into interviews or networking events able to highlight the successes you’ve had that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for. Once you have your pitch written down, practice saying it out loud. I recommend you practice it in front of a mirror. You want to practice it so it sounds like it comes naturally. Doing this makes it much easier to deliver during a phone screen, job interview, or networking event.

When and where to use your pitch
As mentioned previously, your elevator pitch is useful in various professional settings. First and foremost, use your pitch in the beginning of an interview. If the statement “tell me about yourself” comes up, your elevator pitch serves as a highlight reel of your skills, experience, and goals. Networking events and job fairs are other settings where a quick and prepared speech comes in handy.
Tech Recruiting
Aside from physical locations, posting your elevator pitch online is a useful tactic. Your pitch is a great professional summary of yourself as a Java Developer and should be used to your advantage by posting it on your LinkedIn profile in the “about” section. Your pitch also serves as a great summary on your resume. An elevator pitch doesn’t just have to be spoken, it serves just as well as a written summary.

Examples of a candidate elevator pitch
1. “I’m a senior Software Engineer that has been focused over the last ten years in working with Java and the emerging technology surrounding full stack development. I’ve been servicing multiple federal agencies in the civilian market as it relates to updating their current program systems and how they interact with the agency’s applications. Are you looking to hire a senior level Software Engineer?”

2. “I’m a senior Java Developer with 15 years of experience working in financial services. I have been a part of building the mobile banking infrastructure that everyone has come to know and love as well as working with online trading. I’m looking to expand my career and I’m very interested in your company.”

These examples offer a quick overview of your professional experience as well as highlighting your technology skills and accomplishments. The pitch then concludes with what your career goal is as a Java Developer and Software Engineer candidate.

Creating your candidate elevator pitch is essential to your personal brand when asked the simple question, “who are you and what do you do?” Construct and write out your elevator pitch, practice your monologue, and apply it in your next interview. Remember, a short statement about yourself gets you far. Good luck out there.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients – from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms – in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com

Top Tips for Making a Successful First Day on Assignment

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

So you are starting a new position as an Application Developer and your start date is approaching. When preparing for a first day, people generally approach it in two parts. The first being what you do before you leave for the job, and the second being what happens once you get there. In order to have a successful first day on assignment, you need to be prepared. Here are some top tips on how to set yourself up for success:

Preparing for the day
When getting ready for your first day on assignment, your first thought should be, “What am I going to wear?” Do yourself a favor and pick out your outfit the night before. There’s no need to be fumbling through your closet in the morning and accidentally making yourself late by second guessing your choice. Let’s say you interviewed for the job and you wore a suit, sport coat, pantsuit or blazer, but, you noticed when you got there that people were dressed a little more casually. So now, you need to dress more the part on your first day. Remember, you don’t want to overdress or underdress. Try to blend in with your colleagues since you’re now one of them, but maybe even just a tick above that when first starting out.

Before you head out of the house, gather your supplies. As an Application Developer, you likely know the materials you need to have with you, but here are a few items to always remember. You’re going to want to bring the standards like a pad of paper, pens, your ID and a water bottle. Put these all together the night before and if you really don’t want to forget, put it in the car right then or place it by the door ready to grab on your way out.

Prior to your first day on assignment, you need to plan out your commute. Check out the weather, the traffic, and know what you are getting yourself into, so you are not late. Make sure you take everything into account in order to arrive 15-20 minutes early. This will give you enough time to deal with obstacles in your commute, and if you’re even earlier than planned, hang out in your car until about 15 minutes before go time. You don’t want to look like too much of an eager beaver on your first day!

Make sure that you’ve fueled up prior to entering the office. Eat a good breakfast or grab something to eat in the car on the way. No one wants to be sitting in orientation and hearing your stomach growl. Along with breakfast, pack a lunch, but make sure it’s something that could hold over until the next day. Most likely, your manager or the team is taking you out for lunch on your first day (and if they offer, go), but if for one reason or another this isn’t the case, you should be prepared. Obviously, don’t bring tuna fish or any other food that has a strong smell, but something that lasts if it’s left for a day like an apple and a PB&J.

Once you’re at the office
First things first, be approachable, professional, and definitely smile. Look the part and engage them. You want people to work with you and even though you may speak Java, Angular or other application development languages, they will likely stay away if they see a scowl on your face or your head is buried in your cell phone when no one’s around. When you meet your new coworkers, greet them with a strong, confident handshake. Also, take the initiative to seek them out if you’ve been left with nothing to do for a while.

Because you’re the new person around, a lot of people might ask, “Who are you and what do you do?” Be prepared and have a quick elevator pitch at the ready. It only needs to be a 20-30 second overview of you and your background that you deliver when someone meets you.

A good practice all the time, particularly on your first day, is to make sure you are listening more than talking. You don’t want to look like a) you have all the answers or b) you are interrupting people. It’s your first day, they’ve been there awhile, so listen to what they have to say, take notes when necessary and ask questions when appropriate.
IT Consulting
While at work, be patient. A lot of people are eager to get started, but your new employer might not have everything quite set up for you. You may not have a cube or desk yet or even a phone. Remember, it’s your first day, so relax. It will work out and you just need to be patient.

Finally, exercise common courtesy. When someone has taken time with you, thank them. It doesn’t have to be anything major, just a simple “thanks for showing me around” or something similarly appropriate. They took time out of their day and letting them know you appreciate it and are thankful makes a good impression.

Things to keep in mind

  • Arrive early – never late.
  • Don’t wear an excessive amount of cologne or perfume.
  • Keep positive. Always stay in a good mood – fake it until you make it if you have to. Even if you had the worst day, put on a smile and off you go.
  • Don’t act like a know-it-all. That never goes over well.
  • Put your phone away. You want to look approachable and having your head down looking at your phone has the opposite effect.

Having a successful first day on assignment requires a lot of preparation prior to showing up at the office. Prepare the night before and set your plan in place for the morning of your first day. Remain positive and professional. With that, have a successful first day and good luck in your application development role. By the way, we are using application developer to keep in context, but this applies to Java developers as much as Project Managers, Business Analysts and all IT and other roles.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients – from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms – in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com

Partner vs. Vendor

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Blaine W. Smith

We all struggle with the types of people and companies that we want to work with. Do you prefer to work with partners or vendors? You might be asking “What type of question is that?” Well, I want to work with firms that want to build business relationships, that have an invested interest in my success as well as their own firm’s success, and that have mutual goals.

Partners and vendors have very different outlooks on obtaining business. The most common questions I hear about this are:

  1. What is the difference between a vendor and a partner?
  2. Where is the disconnect between the two?

Whether you need project solutions or simply technology staff, the difference between a partner and a vendor will potentially cost you time, money and excessive effort. Do you want to sift through the unqualified to get to the qualified or do you want a firm that understands your business and the marketplace well enough to provide you right solution, right away?

What is a vendor?
First and foremost, a vendor provides a commoditized product with no additional value. They are mostly interested in making the next sale. A vendor is typically going to be very price-centric, generic in their offerings, commoditized in it’s services, and not as authentic in their business relationships. They’re looking to move from one business to the next, not giving much opportunity or want for further relationships. This type of relationship causes customers to put their guard up because they know that they are simply a transaction. Unfortunately, this diminishes any chance of a relationship being built or it makes it more difficult to achieve.

What is a partner?
Partner vs. VendorFirst, a partner will want to understand your business. They are going to understand everything from the economics of your business to the goals and targets for your business. A partner will research what influences success and non-success. They will try to figure out how and what goes on in their customer’s business.

A true business partner does not push their product or business if they know it will not provide value. If they can’t provide the product or service you need, they will tell you upfront and help you find the right partner to achieve what is necessary. Their overall goal is to properly align the services and products they have to achieve mutual success for themselves and their business partners and customers.

Partners want to understand the business or the projects their customers are working on and how it impacts their business. They want to use their time wisely and efficiently. A vendor shows up to a first-time sales meeting or presentation and goes through all of their 50 slides in the presentation deck. A business partner talks about the three that fit with the client’s needs and skips over the other 47 slides. They did the research and asked the questions, and then tailored the information they thought was appropriate and applicable. They then get right to the point of how they can solve their customers issues. This is done in every conversation. If it is a genuine business partner, then every interaction, conversation, email, etc. is qualifying the information that will serve the client properly so that time is not wasted and only what is of value is implemented.

The disconnect between vendor and partner
Simply, the disconnect comes from poor leadership and management. Leadership that drives their company by the bottom dollar and doesn’t build trusted relationships ultimately separates vendors and partners. Centurion Consulting Group’s whole point of existence is trusted service delivery. We want to build valued relationships in order to be trusted by our clients and fellow business partners. We offer our services and products to deliver the needed outcome for our customers. Don’t get me wrong, profit is important, and we need to make a living. However, a profit-centric mindset is led by bad leadership, which leads to bad habits, and bad habits create vendor-like behaviors.

A partner brings a handshake that says, “I’m committed to your best interest and my best interest, and we need to mutually succeed together”. A partner revolves around customer care; whereas, a vendor is solely interested in making the next sale.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients – from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms – in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com