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

THERESA ZANDI TO PRESENT IN PANEL DISCUSSION WITH S.J.HEMLEY MARKETING AT 2019 TECHSERVE ALLIANCE CONFERENCE

Posted on Posted in Technology

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 29, 2019 – Centurion Consulting Group, a Woman-Owned Small Business national IT services consulting firm, will be represented by Theresa Zandi, Principal Owner, in a panel discussion presented by S.J.Hemley Marketing at the 2019 TechServe Alliance Conference in Huntington Beach, CA. The panel will be held on November 7th at 1:30pm-2:45pm Pacific.

The panel discussion, titled Driving Sales and Recruiting Through Effective Marketing, will feature panelist Theresa Zandi, Principal Owner, Centurion Consulting Group, Michael Paradise, CEO, Sysazzle, and Matt Eckert, EVP Sales, Genuent and be led by Larry Hemley, President of S.J.Hemley Marketing.

In this panel, the audience will hear how the panelists have successfully employed marketing to boost sales revenue growth and increase the effectiveness of their recruiting efforts.

“I am proud to represent Centurion Consulting Group in the panel discussion, Driving Sales and Recruiting Through Effective Marketing, at the 2019 TechServe Alliance Conference,” said Theresa Zandi, Principal Owner, Centurion Consulting Group. “This is a great opportunity to share our marketing efforts as well as how it has impacted our sales and recruiting success.”

“We are excited to have someone with Theresa’s background and knowledge of the staffing industry included on the panel,” said Larry Hemley, President, S.J.Hemley Marketing. “This panel will provide great insight for staffing firms of all sizes and allow them to learn how to drive success in their marketing / sales / recruiting efforts.”

The TechServe Alliance 2019 Conference and Tradeshow will be held at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa in Huntington Beach, CA, November 5th-7th.

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

About S.J.Hemley Marketing
S.J.Hemley Marketing is a marketing and sales consulting firm focused on driving tangible results for professional services firms. Brand matters, but not without ROI. With over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within staffing and recruiting, we have helped to drive successful branding, sales training, lead generation activities as well as defining marketing strategy for top organizations. www.sjhemleymarketing.com

About TechServe Alliance
TechServe Alliance is the premier IT & engineering staffing association dedicated to advancing excellence and ethics within the IT & engineering staffing and solutions industry. www.techservealliance.org

###

Building Out Your LinkedIn Profile for Technology Career Success

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Blaine W. Smith

We speak with technology candidates every single day and most of them ask a simple question, “How can I improve what I am doing to drive success in my career?” One of the first things we do is sit down and review their LinkedIn because it has so many possibilities. Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Do you know how to build it to provide advantage in your technology career? LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that can really help you. Here are some tips on how to build your profile for career success whether you are an application developer or project manager or business analyst and etc.:

Make your professional passions and interests known
First and foremost, LinkedIn is a professional forum. Along with your work experience, employers want to see your professional interests and the things that matter to you. I like to look at the groups that people have joined because it illustrates their professional passions in their career ecosystem. Be sure to include your volunteer and philanthropic involvement and where you donate your time. Employers want to see what you do and care about beyond financial and corporate ladder gain.

Resemble your resume
Although there are many different thoughts on this subject, I believe your LinkedIn profile should resemble your resume, but does not need to be identical, as it is not your professional resume, but instead your branding site and there are areas where the two will differ for good reason. One thing that should be consistent is the dates of your employment. Highlight information you might already have on your resume like your education and previous employers. When listing your past employer, remember to be confidential and respectful with data, clients, numbers, etc.
Technology Services
When it comes to listing your experience, more often than not, people don’t allow the company to autofill in their experience. For example, if someone does not allow Centurion Consulting Group to autofill when they type in the company, it won’t make the tie to Centurion and you won’t be viewed as part of that organization. It’s an easy oversight as LinkedIn users think they can just type it in, but you need to allow it to accept, auto populate, and then select, in order to be linked to the company. If done correctly, the company’s logo should show up in your employment section, and you will be added to the total number of employees for that firm.

Adjust your privacy settings
Depending on the position that you are in and what you are trying to receive from LinkedIn, it’s important to either allow yourself to be viewed or not allow yourself to be viewed. If your connections are viewable, you can open up your information to the world. This can be positive or negative depending on your vocation. A recruiter or someone in HR Talent Requisition typically wants to have everything viewed as would a technologist who would want to be viewed in building their professional brand and network.

Personalize your profile
The first step to personalization is changing your URL so that it is easier for you to publicize your profile. You can get rid of the long list of numbers at the end of the URL and replace it with your name and/or something relevant to your career. You should also put your professional headshot as your profile picture. You want this photo to reflect the industry you are in and to be appropriate and professional. You can also create a headline for yourself in the “about” section. This headline should showcase your specialty, value, and go into specifics about yourself that can set you apart from other candidates. Think of this as your personal – yet professional – tagline. The other areas under this profile section are explained in my next point.

Utilize recommendations, endorsements, and posting
Make sure you offer recommendations and endorsements as well as receive them. Endorsements, recommendations, published articles, and shared posts all give a view of who you really are by showcasing what matters to you in your professional passions. Recommendations coming from third parties give a genuine insight into the colleague, manager, and/or professional you have built your career on. You are allowing a human component to be added that reaches a different point in someone’s mindset when reviewing your LinkedIn profile. It makes you more personable. However, it’s important to remember that it’s a professional forum, and the intent is to publish and like information that is relevant to what you are passionate and interested in, therefore growing your brand for professional and career growth. Avoid the pitfalls of doing anything that can diminish that viewpoint.

Stand out to employers
What stands out the most for me in a LinkedIn profile is tenure. Whether you’re relatively new or established in your career, a history of tenured success is the number one representation of future success. Nothing spells future success like past success. It shows loyalty, levelheadedness, and it gives the employer confidence. Modesty and humility are always the correct approach, however, in this social media forum, if you don’t toot your own horn, no one will toot it for you.

Building your LinkedIn profile professionally can improve the chances of success in your technology career. Be articulate, personable, and accurate and you’re on the road to success. 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

Handling the In-Person Technology Interview

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

So, you’ve applied for multiple jobs, you’ve spoken to several recruiters, you had a phone screen, and you’ve just been asked in for a face-to-face interview. Now is not the time to let your guard down – being prepared for that interview is your top priority. For any position, whether it be Java development or DevOps or other technology careers, here are some tips on how to handle an in-person interview:

1. Research the company and your interviewer(s)
Being prepared encompasses the whole interview process. Preparedness includes knowing some amount of details about the manager you are interviewing with and the company. Do your homework to learn what the company does; where they are located, the route you’ll take to get there and plan for traffic delays; what you can tell is important about the position; where the manager went to school and previous companies they worked for to see if you have any common bonds; and more. If you have the answers to those, then you are on your way to a successful interview.

2. Dress to impress / soft skills IT Business Solutions
The next stop when handling an interview successfully is to dress professionally. Always look the part and don’t get yourself disqualified for the position before you’ve even uttered a word. Walking into your DevOps interview looking disheveled won’t get you far, so make sure you look at least as good as the person interviewing you. Also, be sure not to gas them out with excessive perfume/cologne to leave your interviewer with a migraine and you without a job offer.

Along with your attire, you want to carry the essential supplies with you: pen, paper, copies of your resume, and prepared questions written down. Consider these to be part of your interview outfit.

When you walk into the building with your power suit on, be prepared to greet people with a firm handshake, strong eye contact and positive body language. If you are in an interview with multiple people, be sure to do this with all of them. Make sure you have good eye contact with the person asking the question as well as the other people in the interview and your body language reflects your interest in the position. You want to sell yourself to each person so that every individual knows you can do the job.

3. Know your resume
Many of us don’t take the time to review our own resume before an interview, but it is very important. There are areas on all of our resumes that were written quite a while ago and you need to be able to concisely speak to them. Be sure you know how to sum up your technology experiences and be conscious of what is on your resume. You should be able to reference it and know your skills in a nutshell.

4. Have questions written down
The interviewers are not the only ones asking questions. If they ask you if you have any questions, don’t respond with a “no, I’m good” or “you have answered all my questions.” That’s not a good look for you – it’s quite possible your interviewer will take this as you’re disinterested or arrogant.

Examples of questions you can prepare yourself to ask include: What would a day in the life be like in the role of this person? Where do you see this position evolving over time? Where does this fit into the overall project or goal of the company? How can I advance from this position? What kind of technology do you think you’ll be getting into that I might be responsible for?

Even though they are screening you for the position, understand that you are also interviewing them. Your main goal is to walk out of the interview knowing whether or not you want the job if they select you, so ask questions beneficial to you. If you’ve determined this is a great position for you, as the interview closes and they ask if you have any further questions, simply say this, “Yes, when can I start? I’d really love to come to work here.” Whether it be DevOps, application development or any other technical skill and you definitely want the job, don’t be afraid to ask for the opportunity.

5. Follow up
After the interview, you always want to send a thank you note within the first 24 hours. Always send it as an email, but if you choose to go old school and send an actual card, feel free to do so as long as it’ll get there in a timely manner (within two days max). This is always a nice touch but cover your bases and always send an email as well just to be safe. Any thank you note should always be tailored to the interviewer, the company, and the questions they asked you. In case you flubbed something during the interview, address it in your email to be sure they know you can do the job. If you interviewed with multiple people, be sure to make the thank you note specific to things that you discussed with each as managers do compare them.

At the end of the day, you either have the skills or you don’t to be hired. But, how you present them is a whole different ball game. If you fall a little bit short but have the ability to learn and you wow them with your fabulous personality, they just may pick you. Good luck winning your next interview!

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

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 Tech Consulting
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.

Tech Consulting

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 individualTechnology Talent Acquisition
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 Application Development
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 NetworkingTechnology Management Consulting
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