Centurion Spotlight: Sida Ju

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This week’s Centurion Spotlight features Senior DevOps Engineer, Sida Ju. We had the fantastic opportunity to sit down with Sida and discuss his interests in his DevOps Engineering career, technology, his favorite projects, and why he chooses to work with Centurion Consulting Group.

devops engineering career

What got you into technology?
My interests in technology began in my childhood. I remember getting our first PC and immediately being interested in computers. As a child, I was always playing around with the computer. It started out as just playing video games like every child my age, but that eventually led to digging deeper into the system and thinking to myself, “What else can I do with this?” This was the start of my interest in technology, and that interest continued to grow into my technology career. I went on to study computer engineering in college. Once I graduated, I had to consider the fact that computer engineering goes two ways: hardware and software. I gravitated toward the software side of computer engineering, and that is the field I got my first technology job in.

I currently have a DevOps Engineering career and am a member of the infrastructure team on a federal project. I am responsible for building out all systems in AWS with a heavy emphasis on scalability.

What was your favorite project you have worked on?
My favorite project was at a startup healthcare company. This particular company provided hospitals with programs for patients to watch and become more knowledgeable about the conditions they have. The code they already had written for the program was about ten years old and was very difficult to maintain. One of the things the company wanted to do was to refactor it and deploy it as microservices, but they didn’t have the capabilities or the knowledge to complete this task. When introduced to the project, I was tasked with creating the infrastructure to support the microservice architecture and build it out. This project was very enjoyable because, at the time, I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the subject; therefore, this task required a lot of research and testing. In the end, we were able to accomplish the task successfully and roll out the new services with new technologies. Overall, this project was very exciting because it was something new that I had not experienced. It was a learning process that was delivered on time and successfully. To my current knowledge, the company is still running the program I worked on, which is also very exciting.

Another favorite project of mine is my current project. Prior to this current federal project, my career as a DevOps Engineer had not exposed me to the cloud. One of the biggest reasons for joining this project was because I wanted to learn more about the cloud and gain more experience with the technology. The learning experience is what I enjoy the most in any project. This project involved a public online form. The data goes directly into one of our subsystems that I worked on and deploys the server that runs the code allowing you to see the website you are on. I worked on and managed a great deal of the back-end features in this project. We had to make the process as efficient and automated as possible. The overall outcome of this project was successful, and I am very excited for it.
devops engineering career

Why do you choose to work with Centurion?
One of the biggest reasons I choose to work with Centurion Consulting Group is because of the current project I am working on. I had interviewed with other places for contracting positions, and I found that these companies couldn’t tell me anything about the first project I would be working on, whereas, in this position, I was informed of exactly what the project was and my contribution to it. I appreciate the knowledge that Centurion brings to its consultants. Centurion really helped me in that respect.

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 Networking

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By Blaine Smith

Networking, especially in the technology industry, is very important for your career. It gives you many opportunities to create relationships, gain knowledge, and offer your experience to others in furthering your professional aspirations. In this article, you will discover the importance of networking in the technology industry and how it positively affects your technology profession.

The purpose of networking
The purpose of networking is to expand your professional connections, enhance your view of the technology industry and to practice continuous learning in your specific field. When creating relationships with people in your technical field, you have the opportunity to build upon your own skillset through the conversations that take place. Networking not only allows you to expand your learning, but also gives you the ability to offer your knowledge for others professional gain through servant leadership. Another way to utilize networking is to promote your organizations capabilities and create potential future business partnerships.

It’s important to remember that networking is not going to an event and collecting a stack of business cards. In these situations, you may build only one or two true, vital, and trusted relationships, but that is more than okay. It’s not about the number of people you talk to, but the quality of the discussions you hold with those you authentically engage with. These real relationships that you form help you expand your personal and organizational brand, and it gives you the ability to be served or to serve others. Relationships are made to benefit both parties. The individual you are networking with could have something great to offer you, and in return you may have some great advice for them. The purpose of networking is not only to help you in your career, but to help others in their career as well.

Importance of networking in your tech career
For anyone in the business of technology, expanding your network is so important. Networking expands your personal connections with a range of individuals that touch multiple areas of the corporate spectrum. This includes future colleagues from a vast array of organizational departments, potential new customers, and/or business associates.

As a technology consultant, through conversations with others in similar technical fields, and sharing non-confidential experiences, you open up new ideas for technical application, and potentially learning new skills. You can also build a group of trusted advisors or mentors. These individuals can share best practices, thoughts, and innovation with you. Everyone is someone, you might even be speaking to a future colleague or new employee hire for your company.

Networking recommendations
Some of the best networking practices I recommend is to become involved in in-person events. This include trade associations, specific technical group associations, university associations or alumni groups, etc. Joining these groups allows you to meet several people with the same technology skillsets or professional interests as you, and this can really be used to your advantage when it comes to advancing your technology career. Networking online is also a great tactic. LinkedIn is a professional platform that is perfect for online networking. LinkedIn has several groups to join that are specific to your technological interests or capabilities. By joining these groups, you are able to engage in online discussions and discover new opportunities from other individuals in the group. This platform is also a great way to keep in touch with people you have networked with in-person. For instance, if you create a great relationship with someone, invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. This is just another form of communication to use to keep in touch with the people you meet while networking.

The key to networking is how you handle the conversation. In the initial conversation, you need to learn a little about the other person and allow them to learn a little about you. Have an elevator pitch ready. For tips on how to create or improve your elevator pitch, check out this article. You want to find some common ground with the person you are networking with. If there is common ground or a common interest, further the conversation with a follow up by connecting with them on LinkedIn or through email. Depending upon the level of that connection, staying in touch is vital.
tech services
Some of the best technology leaders, business development and capture leaders, and program leaders make time to attend trade associations and other networking engagements and events as part of their professional schedule. They commit to spending time to either give back to the technology community or to gain even more insights from others through the creation of new relationships. It’s important to remember that networking isn’t supposed to be a sales effort. It’s supposed to be genuine. Those who are best at networking pursue building honest relationships to learn more or help others learn. When these approaches are utilized, you will get the best results. Good luck with your future networking efforts.

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: Burak Tasel

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Meet our next Centurion Spotlight featuring our consultant, Burak Tasel! We had the great opportunity to sit down with Burak and discuss how he started working in technology, his favorite projects, and why he chooses to work with Centurion.

What got you into technology?
During my undergraduate study, I interned for a public accounting firm. At the time, this firm was going through a major accounting system upgrade. As part of my internship, I had the opportunity to assist them with their system and infrastructure setup as well as helping them migrate their data from the old system to the new system. This experience drew me deeper into technology. I really wanted to learn more about system design and programming languages, and that interest lead me to enroll in a Computer Science graduate program. About three (3) semesters into the program, I was offered a full-time software engineering position by one of the companies I had interned with. This was where my technology journey kicked off.

In my current role as an IT Consultant, I help our client succeed in implementing DevSecOps and modern software development practices. I work with many projects that involve automation, API development, and system integration. I have a particular interest in cloud computing, with a primary focus on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other distributed open source technologies. These are the main technologies I work with and I would consider them my greatest strengths.

What was your favorite project you have worked on?
In my favorite project, I held the role of the solution architect in support of the Marketplace System Integrator (MSI) contract for the Affordable Care Act. My team and I were responsible for providing architectural oversight and ensuring that development of the systems adhered to the Government-approved standards and technical reference architecture. This was a dynamic project involving many contracting teams that worked on different parts of this system. The biggest effort evolved around migrating major Marketplace components to the cloud in order to enhance the scalability, functionality, and durability of the system. As a result of this project, I gained a great amount of exposure to different technologies and got the opportunity to work closely with engineers from well-established companies.

Currently, I am working on a project involving modern software development and support. My team and I have the responsibility of spearheading the adoption of new technologies. In this process, we are helping other teams migrate into new technologies using modern development platforms and tools. These tools include a highly customized continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. We also support various products throughout this project including tools to improve code quality and security posture of applications. All of these efforts are done with the hope that we can catch issues before the application is deployed to production. Overall, we help teams streamline their development process to produce high quality, secure, and maintainable software.

When the teams migrate their applications to the Modern Development Environment (MDE), they benefit from these best practices and tools. This all reflects on the metrics that we collect and share with the teams. For example, we can see the technical depth related to an application whether it is an increase or decrease over time. Seeing the teams utilize the metrics we collect is the most rewarding part of this project.
IT technology
Why do you choose to work with Centurion Consulting Group?
I became aware of Centurion’s role in the Agency’s ongoing effort to modernize their enterprise systems and move their critical applications to the cloud. I knew that I wanted to be a part of this effort and bring in some of my expertise and experience on the subject. I had also learned about Centurion and their mission, leadership, and successful engagement with various federal agencies. From there, I knew that I wanted to be part of the Centurion team.

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: Mark Villee

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This week, our Centurion Spotlight is focused on Mark Villee. Mark is a Recruiting Specialist with Centurion Consulting Group. We had the opportunity to sit down with Mark and discuss his interests in technology, his favorite project he has worked on, and why he chooses to make his career with Centurion.

What got you into technology and recruiting?
After college, I was recruiting on the engineering side of a manufacturing company. It came to a point where there was a lot of changes happening in the manufacturing industry and I wanted to make a shift in my career and learn more about IT. I already had some prior knowledge from setting up my own network and databases. I wanted to understand more about IT technology within agencies and eventually transition into Corporate Talent Acquisition. The biggest draw for me in IT was that it is something that is being utilized every day and by everyone. Whether it’s our smartphones or other every day devices, the ease of getting work done via computer has revolutionized things. I saw this as my next step in my technology recruiting career.
IT technology
My favorite thing about working in technology is that I’m always meeting new people. With IT, you meet a lot of people with different personalities and quirks and it’s very interesting seeing all of these people come together to make technology work. I primarily work with applicant tracking systems and HR software systems. When it comes to individuals, I work with candidates with skillsets in Java and Python, which are very hard to find. These are skillsets that I’m looking for every day.

What was your favorite project you have worked on?
My favorite project is a monthly recruiting event that we host. These events bring all of the hiring managers and candidates together. As a recruiter, I work to orchestrate getting the candidates and hiring managers lined up and making sure their meetings happen. I also evaluate the candidates and get the hiring managers feedback. Everything in this situation is like a dance where I’m courting the candidates and managers, getting them together and selling them the positives and the hurdles that may need to be overcome. My overall goal in this situation is matchmaking and having a successful outcome for everyone involved.

I had one particular candidate that had difficulty scheduling an in-person interview. We found a date that worked for him, and that happened to be one of our recruiting events. We brought the candidate in to the event, where they were able to meet with five (5) different teams and received an offer at the end of the day. It was that satisfaction that assured me that I’m doing the right thing. You always need to be persistent and keep after things. As with fully cleared software developers, once you find one that is interested, you want to make sure that you’re engaging them to get everyone where they need to be. You need to capture their interests and maintain those interests through the whole process.

The overall mission of my job is very rewarding. I enjoy finding people the right jobs so that they are happy and they can be the nation’s front line of defense in technology.
IT technology
Why do you choose to work with Centurion Consulting Group?
I had developed a relationship with one of the owners of Centurion where we had a lot of the same ideals and values. I felt a connection and wanted to find out more about Centurion. They are very well-respected in the community and they really support our mission and our client. Finding this company with similar values made it a great fit for me.

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: 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

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

Partner vs. Vendor

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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

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

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