The Importance of Your Application Development Career and Leveraging Opportunities

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

Where do you see yourself in ten years? What is your career plan? How will you get there? When looking for application developer job opportunities, it’s important to have a defined plan. Most people don’t create a roadmap for the professional growth. Many technology consultants think that if they do good work, opportunities will be presented to them. However, you don’t want to keep yourself in “wait and see” mode.

I like to think of each person’s career like surfing. You are on a great wave of technology (a specific technology) and you are enjoying the ride. However, keep in mind that if you wait to learn more and develop your career further, the wave will crash and you will find yourself paddling back out for the next wave long after it has taken off. Instead, become a skill surfer. Be seen as an achiever and constantly strive to learn emerging technologies so you can catch the next cutting-edge wave. Plan and be prepared – your career is important and furthering it by leveraging opportunities gets you where you want to be.
Here are some strategies to take into consideration:

Become an expert in your area
When it comes to advancing your application developer career, you want to become an expert in specific technologies. Everything in the IT world is very specific and companies are always looking for dedicated experts. If you have learned particular frameworks like Angular or React, it is a good time to educate yourself in others like Node or Flux. Adding to your skillsets increases your application development opportunities across a wider area. Present yourself as an expert in your field, and then translate that into other skills.

Be approachable and put yourself out there
We see that being a good team player as well as a mentor in the workplace is the secret sauce that employers are wanting. Work well with others and use your skills to assist your team. In general, a good trait to have as a human is to be approachable and to ask for help as well. No one knows everything, and the people that think they do are not as approachable. Get advice from others and you’ll both be honing your skills together.

Putting yourself out there is the ticket. It’s a risk for some people, but it can also be extremely rewarding, if you are willing. For example, get published. From blog articles to trade publications and more, there are many opportunities for being published. As soon as you start getting your name out there, you can gain a reputation that betters your career.

Putting yourself out there also means reaching out to others. If you are developing a plan for your career and you know someone that can help, then you should be reaching out to them. You never know where it can get you and how they can help. Be sure to give something to the relationship to make it valuable to them, so it’s not a “take only” connection.

Take on side projects
Another thing you can do to leverage opportunities is to take on some side projects. Do things that are beneficial to your application developer career but that you are also passionate about. Remember when you do something, do it well.

Take initiative
Most people are not taking the bull by the horns when it comes to their application development career. In my experience, about 5% of people make a plan for their technology career vs. the 95% of people that wait and see. You want to create a plan and grow from it.

IT is like Talladega Nights – as Ricky Bobby says, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” Realistically, if you are not growing in this business, you are actually digressing, and it will affect your career. In IT, it’s all about learning the latest and greatest.

Growing your career is important. Create a plan for yourself and put yourself in a position that will help you gain new opportunities.

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

How to Retain the Best Employees

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Blaine Smith

We believe that people are our greatest asset and in taking care of the people that take care of you. This typically leads to their success personally, financially, and professionally. These beliefs achieve an equal success for both the company and employee. Retention is a difficult issue for many companies because they recognize the value of keeping their team together, but don’t always know what to do to make it happen. Here are a few ideas on how to retain the best employees:

Raising success
It’s well-known that retaining employees is less costly than turning people over, but let’s look at the deeper meaning of retention. Helping to raise the success in an employee’s career is a priority. Retaining the best employees is getting to the root of how they are successful in your firm.

On the topic of turnover, a recent Wall Street Journal article explains that a high employee turnover rate costs twice an employee’s salary when finding and training a new person. Along with the financial impacts, high turnover rates decrease overall performance and morale in employees. To avoid all of this, retaining the best employees is your best option. And, when retaining employees, ensuring their success ensures success across the board.

Focus on the individual
The first requirement of retention is understanding the employee. Understanding who the individual is and how they operate identifies what is important to them within retention. Employment is a two-way street, the employer has to focus on the individual to see what makes them the most successful in their career and the employee needs to get value from their career. We need to be always focusing our retention ideas on what is truly valuable to the employee, not what we think they will perceive as valuable.

Remember what really matters
When it comes to retention ideas, we have seen all kinds of games and perks that create a fun work environment. However, is a fun work environment what employees deem valuable? Is that what matters to them? Things like commute, benefits, and a work-life balance tend to be more important. Offer a career of significance. Figure out what drives your employees, and focus on that to ensure retention.

Start with good and genuine conversations
One of the best practices when retaining an employee is to have a great conversation about what matters most to them. Building trust and creating honest and authentic conversations, allows for transparent communication and the ability to commit to each other. We use job boards, social media, and marketing to attract talent to a conversation with us to understand their motivation and what is important to them. We keep this conversation going throughout their employment to ensure we are doing the right things for retention.

The greatest asset for a firm is the people that work there. Ensuring success for those people in their careers allows for the retention of the best employees.

Take care of others and they will take care of you.

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

Advice for Growing Your Application Development Career – Are You A Rock Star

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

Are you looking to see your Java / Application Development career go from point A to point Z? That should be an easy…yes. But, how do you get from A to Z and who gives you the advice to get there? When I speak with Application Developers and most recently Java consultants, we talk about the variety of ways to get there. I hope this is helpful to you in your career.

Create A Plan
I seem to always begin here, but just saying that you want to grow your career and creating a plan to get there are very different. We all want to make advancement in our technology careers, but it requires you to take a step-by-step approach. When you build your plan, I begin with where do I think I want to go? If I am a Java developer that currently works with Angular and want to expand into different frameworks like React, then that is one step. If I am wanting to climb into management, that is a different step. Regardless of the end game, you do need to set goals in your plan if you want to grow your career.

Take the Initiative
The biggest drawback for most people growing their Application Development career is actually taking the initiative. When you are working, do you ask for additional responsibilities? Do you raise your hand for the tough projects? Are you being a great team player and mentoring others? If you want to grow your career, then the best piece of advice is to take the initiative to step out of your comfort zone.

Side Projects
Using the example from above, if you are a Java Developer that already knows Angular, then seek out projects that allow you to expand into different frameworks. There are so many companies and friends of yours that wish they had access to a Java developer of your stature. Let them have access to you through a side project. Charge them or don’t charge them, but be sure to make it clear that you are expanding your skills and want to work in areas that you do not typically work in. Take on additional projects at your job by conveying your interest to leadership. Be sure to be clear that you are wanting to learn something new. Side projects are a great way to expand your technical scope and grow your career.

Getting Published
You are a rock star. You know more about Application Development, Java, Angular, React, Node, etc. than most of the people on the planet. Why are you not sharing some of what you know through writing? Start a blog. Write articles on topics that you find interesting or that you have a wealth of knowledge about. You will be surprised how easily it comes, but the effect is that when you are interviewing, managers are going to Google you and now they see, firsthand, that you know what you are talking about. Take some of your articles and send them to trade publications. Share your articles across social media. Contribute to open source forums. Getting published positions you as an expert and when you take the next steps in your career, it will be noticed.

Communication / Soft Skills
In our society today, communication and soft skills are at the top of the list of what employers are looking to see from candidates. If you are a Java developer looking for your next position, employers are going to want to see how you think, how you write, and how you speak. They want to see your problem-solving skills and how you work and play well with others. We all need to work on our communication and soft skills, but if you are trying to grow your career, then it is a must. We have seen a number of technical candidates not receive offers because they are unable to convey their technical expertise, communicate effectively and efficiently, and/or play nicely in the sandbox. Interpersonal relationships are very important, so please don’t overlook them.

Improving yourself may seem difficult, but the fact is, you are not alone. We are all a work in progress and if you are trying to grow your career then start at the beginning.
Do you have other ideas on how to grow your career? We would love to hear them. Feel free to write us or simply add your comments. Let’s all help each other.

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

Networking Like a Pro

Posted on Posted in Consulting, Technology

by Theresa Zandi

I speak with technology candidates every day and hear a variety of questions. One of the most recent interesting questions from a tech candidate was, “How can I do a better job of networking?” Everyone spends, or should spend some amount of time networking, but what do we mean by networking and what are some best practices?

The Difference Between Networking Online vs In-Person
The difference between in-person and online may be obvious, but it is simply the anonymity of online vs being physically in front of someone. While online allows you to reach out to many people, it doesn’t translate into relationships unless you take action. Whereas, in-person networking events offer less people, but you get face time with them. Both areas of networking have their pros and cons – it’s how you take advantage of them is the strongest point.

I am of the opinion that it is important to wear a suit to networking events, but not everyone today agrees with that, so simply dress professionally. Further in this article, I go into ways to set yourself apart and make networking work for you. With that said, I want to take a minute to talk about using LinkedIn for your networking. Keep in mind that connecting with people is not simply hitting the connect button. We all need to spend some time getting to know our connections and turning them into relationships. 2000 connections doesn’t equal 2000 people ready to help you.

Things to Keep in Mind When Networking
Networking requires a plan. What types of people do you want to connect with? What are your goals? Do you know people attending? I go into networking with a plan and that plan changes based on the type of event. At meetups or user group sessions, I keep in mind that there is an entire room of people to meet. I also remember that there may be people I already know that I need to reconnect with. Am I there to meet new technology candidates for a particular position or am I trying to meet more people within specific technologies? The answer to both is “yes”. You could end up talking to someone that you form a relationship with that won’t do anything for you. Some of the events I attend are to simply meet fellow women business owners so that we can assist each other and even share war stories. Be sure to have a plan.

Seek out those you want to know as opposed to sitting back and waiting for people to approach you. Let them feel that you value the contact. If you are going to a meet-up group, be knowledgeable about the topic. Some Business Analyst candidates attend Project Management networking events because they are looking to move into project management. Be sure that you are able to hold a strong conversation with those around you.

A key point is to always have an elevator pitch. For a technology candidate, this focuses on one simple question, “Who am I in a nutshell?” Approximately 5% of technology candidates have prepared elevator pitches, thus lessening their value proposition. For more on preparing your elevator pitch, click here. While speaking with people, be conscious of both yours and their time. Some conversations are not the right fit. It is okay to move on to other people by simply excusing yourself. Another common issue for technology candidates is having a business card or shareable contact information on your phone. While meeting with your new contact, don’t be afraid to ask to exchange information through texting right there on the spot.

One thing people forget is the importance of following up and it should occur within 24 hours. Following up is not just about sending over a resume, it is confirming that you appreciated their time and that you are glad to get to know them. Sincerity is key in your follow up and remember that it is alright to get to know someone before you ask them to do something for you. Many people jump right to the “Ask” before establishing rapport.

Tips for Networking Like A Pro
Networking pros standout because they perform nearly all of the tasks below.

  • They come with a plan
  • They work the room
  • They have their elevator pitch down
  • They dress the part
  • They have great eye contact and exude positive body language (SMILE!)
  • They listen twice as much as they talk (you have 2 ears and 1 mouth – use them accordingly)
  • They use their time wisely
  • They step out of their comfort zone
  • They always follow up afterward
  • They are prepared to share contact information

I hope this provides a good foundation for all of you networkers. Be prepared to put yourself out there because you never know what you will get in return.

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

What is this blog and what does Centurion Consulting Group stand for?

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Blaine W. Smith

We wanted to take a moment to open the doors and introduce all of you to the mindset behind Centurion Consulting Group. Our firm is all about developing careers and relationships with people. True business partnerships begin simply with a handshake. Over time and through a commitment to do the right thing, (even when it’s the hard thing) we have gratefully built a loyal and expansive referral and consultant network, known as Centurions. With our ever-growing Centurion family, we endeavor to serve and effectively engage with our clients.

With the Centurion blog, we hope you receive thought provoking, insightful information relevant to your career and professional development. Additionally, we want this to be a place that provides enhancement to your business acumen.

Theresa and I started the firm with the belief that service, true genuine service, is not an outdated concept and that you can build an IT Services firm on the premise, “To take care of the people, who take care of you.” The Golden Rule should come to mind…

What does that mean?

It means that we start by offering our employees:

  • Challenging careers with significance
  • Competitive salaries
  • Excellent benefits
  • Attractive perks and ancillary benefits
  • Matching 401(k)

 

Next, we walk the walk by demonstrating a philanthropic mantra, committed to giving back to our community, and serving our fellow Centurions. This is accomplished through organizational fellowship and events to foster and encourage a purpose centered firm, led by individual technology and business leaders – made stronger by their collective and collaborative spirit. We genuinely believe that true business relationships can incorporate #kindnessmatters. While being professionally motivated and driven, we can still strive for personal connection and care for your fellow coworkers. We strive for authenticity in all of our relationships in building careers and a life of significance.

Even as a small IT Consulting business, we are committed to providing our consultants and staff an environment for them to thrive. What makes us relatively unique in our industry, is that these are the areas that have been removed or forgotten over the last 20 years. Collectively, people first are our greatest asset.

We sincerely hope that our blog is a source that you come to rely on and value.

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

WGTS Difference Makers

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

The Centurion Team and friends had the opportunity to participate, support, and serve the first-ever WGTS Difference Makers Golf Tournament at The Club at PB Dye, one of the areas premiere golf clubs featuring spectacular views.  Although it was a rain shortened day, the festivities, golf, food, service, and efforts of the fantastic staff of PB Dye made for a memorable event in support of a very worthy cause.

Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Golf Classic

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

Staff of Centurion, family, and friends, were honored to support and participate in 2019’s Golf Classic at Bulle Rock, Havre de Grace, MD, this Spring in support of a worthy organization dedicated to cutting edge research and success in support of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.

For more information and support: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns-hopkins-childrens-center/what-we-treat/specialties/allergy-immunology/index.html

Hope Lodge Baltimore – American Cancer Society

Posted on Posted in Charity, HealthCare, life, nonprofit

Centurion staff had the opportunity to prepare and serve dinner while engaging in fellowship with several residents of ACS' Baltimore Hope Lodge this Spring.  Grateful to serve such a worthy and meaningful organization and wonderfully courageous people.

The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge program provides a free home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers. More than just a roof over their heads, it's a nurturing community that helps patients access the care they need. Each Hope Lodge community offers a supportive, homelike environment where guests can share a meal, join in the evening's activities, or unwind in their own private room. Patients staying at a Hope Lodge must be in active cancer treatment, and permanently reside more than 40 miles or one hour away from their cancer treatment center. Each patient must be accompanied by a caregiver.

Wreaths Across America

Posted on Posted in Charity, life, nonprofit, Uncategorized

Very grateful for the volunteerism in time and financial offered by our fellow Centurion’s in support of Wreaths Across America for Arlington National Cemetery, Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, MD, and participating veteran cemeteries around the country.  Centurion Consulting Group was honored to have the opportunity of joining the effort as a One Star Sponsor in 2018 for such a great and worthy cause.  Employees and friends of Centurion, were among the volunteers that participated in the laying of wreaths in honor, remembrance, and a commitment to teach our youth of the great sacrifice offered by those who served our country in defense of our freedom.  Although a wet day on the east coast – an inspirational day of support, remembrance, and learning.

Warrior Music Foundation Rock-n-Roll Patriot Bash

Posted on Posted in news, nonprofit, Uncategorized

Playing for the Warrior Music Foundation

Centurion Consulting Group is proud to team in support of the Warrior Music Foundation and their efforts to serve those who serve us. We welcome all to consider this wonderful non-profit dedicated to our War Fighters and we are excited about the opportunities that will unfold through the Rock-n-Roll Patriot Bash on September 7th, 2018 at Martin's East in Baltimore...the inaugural Fundraising Dinner and event.

Offering Group Lessons, Individual Lessons, and Musical Therapy, the Warrior Music Foundation is dedicated to helping limit the impact of PTSD and reduce the number of suicides across the active duty, reserve and veteran population by maximizing the healing power of music in a facilitated environment.

Warrior Music Foundation - Helping Those who Serve

Our mission is to serve our active duty military, veterans and their families as they deal with the complexities of PTSD by providing a venue for learning, healing and camaraderie using music lessons in both individual and group settings - all influenced by music therapy. We will be starting the Foundation in the DC, MD, VA area.

Please find more information here:

https://www.warriormusicfoundation.org/
https://www.warriormusicfoundation.org/bash