Centurion Spotlight: Ted Meehan

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This week, our spotlight is shining down on Centurion employee, Ted Meehan, an Agile Scrum Master within the government sector. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Ted and, in this interview, we discovered how his technology career began, his favorite project he has contributed to, and why he is proud to be a Centurion.

What got you into technology?
In the beginning of my career, I thought I wanted to be a high school teacher. I taught for a year and realized that, because I was so young, I didn’t have a lot of life experience to offer to the students. During this time, a big .com tech boom was occurring, and I had a small amount of tech experience from working in a computer lab in college. agile scrum masterAt that moment, I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore, so I started applying for tech jobs. I began my technology career developing my skillset and learning about the latest and greatest technologies at the time. From there, I built a background in development, testing, and customer support.

Technology had always seemed like a good fit for me. I love technology and growing my skillset within it. Along with this, I’ve also always had great people skills, which went a long way for me in my technology career. I’ve always found myself being the lead of every project I was on because of my communication with all of the team members. I’m not the cliché, stereotype of the introverted software engineer. Not only did being tech savvy help me in the growth of my technology career, but also my communication skills and wanting to talk and work with everyone involved in projects.

In my career, I found that I really loved working with the software development teams. In specific instances, I worked closely with Agile coaches that trained our teams. As I oversaw this, I was also getting the certifications with those coaches. Every step I’ve taken has greatly contributed to my technology career.

What was your favorite project you have worked on?
In a previous position, the development teams I worked with would build new code and only test it within that application. It was never able to be tested throughout the entire ecosystem, and there were about 15 different applications within that ecosystem. We never had an environment to test data from beginning to end. I have always had a passion for automated testing, so I maintained and built a lot of these testing environments. Another colleague and I decided we needed an integration environment. We needed a mini ecosystem to verify any code changes so that it didn’t affect the entire ecosystem. The current system proved to be very inefficient, so over two years, I took all 15 applications and built a mini integration environment. With this, we were able to simulate production in an integration environment and we were able to see the data go through the entire system prior to going to production.

This particular project was important because the advertising system we were working on generated a lot of money. Any hiccup in this application would be detrimental. I was very passionate about this project and I saw the value in it. Once the project was implemented, it saved a lot of time, money, and rework of software. I was very proud of the outcome, and the environment is still being used to this day.

Why do you choose to work with Centurion Consulting Group?agile scrum master
Working with Centurion has a lot to do with the people that work there and their great personalities. When I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do to further my technology career, I sat down with the team at Centurion and was assured of many options. I’ve worked with IT Consulting firms before, but Centurion was different because of their passion and their want for clients and candidates to succeed. This was the big reason I wanted to become a Centurion and want to stay a Centurion.

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

Centurion Spotlight: Jeff VanVoorhis

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We are very excited to introduce the first of many Centurion Spotlights, which do exactly what you think: they put a spotlight on one of our great employees! We had the opportunity of sitting down with Jeff VanVoorhis, who is currently rewriting applications with a framework migration from Struts 1 to Struts 2. In this interview, Jeff discusses how he started his technology career, his favorite projects he has worked on, and why he chooses to work for Centurion Consulting Group.

What got you into technology?
My career started with a six-year stint in the Navy. After I was discharged, I worked in sales for 13 years. At the end of my sales career, I decided I wanted a change and to go into a career that was more substantial. At that time, I noticed that computer programming was in high demand and growing with a high compensation potential. I took that opportunity to get a degree in Computer Science while interning full-time in my desired technology field. As it turned out, I ended up loving the work in technology.

What kicked off my interest in technology was taking a Microsoft Office class when getting my degree. At the time, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into. However, I have been programming for about 22 years now, and I love what I’m doing and glad I made that step into technology. Prior to this career change, I had worked in construction and sales, and working in the position I am now makes me appreciate it much more. I work in a very comfortable environment with professional people and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. I feel I have so much more growing to do in my technology career, and that is very exciting to me.

What was your favorite project you have worked on?
I have been involved with some great projects that I really enjoyed working on. However, the one that stands out the most to me is my first project as a Tech Lead. This project was to create an application that allowed new account set-up for our customers. It was designed to build a customer-facing application that allowed customers to easily create an account online. As a team working on this project, we needed to make it possible for customers to link their bank accounts and make deposits through this application. At the time, there was not an application within the company that could perform this function. This factor made this particular project very exciting.

This project was my first Tech Lead position, and it had a very positive outcome. As well as leading the project, my role was being a developer. I set up the basic framework for the project and made decisions regarding those frameworks, the scheme of how the application worked and how it accessed the database, as well as working with all of the technology (including Java) involved. Essentially, I had the shell of the application created when the other developers were brought in. From there, the rest of the team was informed what needed to be accomplished. As we continued, I worked side-by-side with the other developers. The overall project was very challenging, but it was fun seeing everything come together.
IT jobs
Why do you choose to work for Centurion Consulting Group?
I spent most of my career working in the private sector. Just a few years ago, I decided to venture out for more challenging work. I decided that government contracting would provide me with the opportunities I was looking for. I was happy at my previous job, which was my first government contracting position. However, it was the dynamic personality of a Centurion recruiter that lured me into working for the company. I have not regretted it for a second.

In the past, I worked with mostly large companies. What I love about Centurion is that it’s smaller and much more intimate. Centurion is made up of great people that genuinely care about 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

Creating Your Technology Personal Brand Part 2

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By Theresa Zandi

Welcome to Part two of “Creating Your Technology Personal Brand”! Last week, we discussed the definition and the foundation of what makes your professional personal brand. This week, our goal is to provide advice on how to apply that prior knowledge to your complete technology personal brand, specifically online. Building your professional reputation and personal brand is very important in your technology career. By having the foundation of your technology personal brand, it’s time to set the building blocks of your professional reputation online.

Assess your personal brand
Knowing who you are is one thing, and knowing what you project is another. Have you ever Googled yourself? Take a moment to put your full name in a search engine and see what results come up. Your technology personal brand tells people what you are known as and what you are known for. Find out what is out there about you. Is it boring? Is it interesting for the right reasons? After sifting through the results, start building your brand.

Your online presence
Your personal brand is a combination of your interactions with people in-person, and your online persona. What you are known as comes with your one-to-one or one-to-many interactions. This is not documented online anywhere, it is simply how people feel about you. When it comes to your online personal brand, you have opportunities to change it so that it relates to your professional persona. For example, are you published anywhere? Have you authored your own articles? Getting published is a great way to get your name out there in professional manner. This is done by starting your own blog or podcast.

With starting a blog, for example, you can share your thoughts about where the Java development profession is going or what projects you are working on. Also, interview your peers, bosses, or other companies and write a blog article about it. Doing this not only improves your personal technology brand but also their personal brand. Not a big fan of writing? Start a podcast! Podcasting has become increasingly popular and you can utilize it to improve your personal brand as it has the same effect as a written blog. Examples of discussions to feature in your podcast include, where is DevOps taking us? Include your own thoughts as well as interviews with other professionals to create a great technological conversation. Getting yourself published through written blogs and/or podcasts greatly improves technology personal brands online.

Are you active on platforms such as LinkedIn and Github? These are professional platforms that drive personal SEO in the right direction. Contribute articles to your LinkedIn groups or other online publications. Github is a platform that provides hosting for software development. This website creates a community of developers to discover, share and build software. Like LinkedIn, using this platform to share articles, coding and thoughts is beneficial to online branding. Being active on these professional sites shows your interests and passions in your career, thus adding to your professional personal brand.
Technology Career
Have you engaged in speaking opportunities? Have you reached out to different Meetup groups or networking groups? If you are a senior Java Software Engineer and you get the opportunity to speak at a Java meetup, take advantage of what that does for your personal brand. With the professional speaking opportunity, write a press release. Once this press release is published, it becomes associated with your name and improves your technology personal brand.

From a recruiting standpoint, if I Google the name of a candidate and see everything that I have previously listed as the results, I become thoroughly impressed with their personal brand and what they have accomplished to make that brand possible. Your online persona is just as important as how you are perceived in person. As a technology candidate, every aspect of your personal brand, online and in-person, is evaluated.

With the foundation and the building blocks of your professional brand secured, it’s time to take action. Your in-person personal brand includes personality, collaboration, networking, integrity, taking on challenges, and how you dress professionally. However, personal brand also includes how you are perceived online. Engaging online professionally contributes greatly to your personal brand. Your professional reputation is a combination of everything. With that, assess your brand with a simple Google search and use those results to build your technology personal brand. 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

Creating Your Technology Personal Brand Part 1

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By Theresa Zandi

We have been asked a number of times what goes into a personal brand? The reality is, it has many components from defining who you are in the workplace, to sharing that with your team and coworkers, to your online presence, and more.

What is the definition of personal brand? Personal branding is the practice of marketing people and their careers. It’s an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group, or organization. Whereas some self-help practices focus on self-improvement, personal branding defines success as a form of self-packaging. Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.

Your personal brand starts on day one. I always tell candidates that their reputation is everything. When you walk through the doors of any organization, it doesn’t matter what you are wearing or what you are carrying with you, you always have your reputation. Your brand not only affects you personally, but your coworkers and others around you as well.

Personality is a key piece of your personal brand. You must be approachable, communicate effectively, and use emotional intelligence. When talking with others, you need to be able to read the subject, so you know how to get your message across successfully. You want to communicate with the right amount of verbiage. My partner has a saying where he emphasizes that you should always say what you mean and mean what you say, and he likes to add… and not to be mean when you say it. You can be an expert in a specific technology, but if you have a reputation of a complete jerk, no one will listen to you. You should also be conscious of body language, because it can say a lot about a person’s personality. Perception is reality. Always be aware of how people perceive you, because it’s the baseline of your personal brand.

Collaboration is another aspect that plays heavily into your technology personal brand. Always share your knowledge with others, but don’t oversell yourself. You don’t want to be perceived as a know-it-all. If you communicate in a way that builds people up, you have found the secret to being a leader. The more knowledgeable and confident the people are around you, the better you look as a leader. Try to team solve to develop other people and be quick to help others.
IT Careers
Communication with others is essential to your personal brand, and networking is the way to do that. Networking takes place both online and in-person. It’s consistently reaching out to others to gain knowledge in your particular technology field and promoting content and thought leadership that builds awareness and respect in a specific community, whether it be DevOps or Angular. You have to focus on networking internally, meaning within your organization, as well. Don’t be afraid to go outside of your primary team and connect with other people in different areas. Generally, just be a nice person. People want to work with people that they like and trust.

Another huge part of your personal brand is integrity. If you don’t know something, don’t pretend that you do. Instead, seek out the help of others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Another tip, especially for recruiters, is, if you say you are going to do something, do it. Always be conscious of not only “what’s in in for me?” but also, “what’s in it for them?” Ultimately, always follow up and follow through. It’s very important to step up to the plate and open yourself up to challenges. Accepting challenges, and meeting them successfully, is how you create opportunities for growth and promotion.

Something I always stress to technology candidates is the way you dress. Look the part. If you look professional and engaged, you will be taken seriously. No one ever says, “that person is overdressed.” Looking professional in your career enhances your personal brand.

Now, you have the definition and the foundation of what makes your professional personal brand. Are you ready to see how to apply this to your complete technology personal brand? Tune in next week! Our next blog will discuss the building of your professional reputation / personal brand in your technology career.

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

Tips to Successfully Evaluate Application Developer Candidate Skills

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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

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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

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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