What Technology Project Success Looks Like

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

We are consistently asked the question, “How would you define technology project success and what does it look like?” We all know that on time, on budget and on scope are the effective elements of a good project, but what if you meet all three criteria and the end result does not satisfy the need. Start at the beginning. When we look at a project, the most important element is defining the scope. According to the Project Management Institute, the basic definition of project management revolves around three parameters: time, budget, and scope. The more information we gather, the more issues and challenges are resolved. What is the end goal of the project? How will the project be utilized by the business? We strive to understand the project in its greatest detail in order to build a quality scope. Defining the budget is generally easier because most firms begin with a basic understanding of the project budget that they are willing to spend. And, on time is a critical function of project management holding all team members to deadlines and flexing where possible. Let’s look into the elements of project success deeper.

Success from a Project Management Perspective
Beyond the standard schedule, budget, and scope is quality. The quality of the project is typically assessed in a post-project review, which determines if the project was an overall success based on whether the project was completed on time, if it was within the set budget, and that it conforms with predetermined performance specifications. If each of these elements was achieved within the specifications of the client, then the project is considered a success. Keep in mind that the project itself, the project manager, the project team, and the project governance stakeholders are all taken into consideration when determining if a project is successful.

The main value in project management is to offer a direct measure of performance of the project and the management expertise that was applied to complete the project within the design parameters. Although this is true, the value has limitations. For instance, it only focuses on the means of the investment rather than if the deliverable did its job. Due to this limitation, two additional criteria are suggested when measuring success, including measures of project deliverable or the product success/business success.
technology project success
Success from a Product Perspective
The truth is, completing a project within scope does not necessarily mean it is a sufficient measure of project success. In order for it to truly be a success, the client must accept and use the project as it is and be beneficial to their business. You can do everything right, complete the project on time, within budget, and within scope, but the possibility of failing is still evident if you lack user acceptance.

Technology project success is split into two parts: 1) success of creating the project, and 2) satisfaction of the product and its effectiveness in benefitting the users. As important as it is to follow all of the steps in creating a project, product success post-project is just as important. If the product fails, then so does the project.

Success from a Process Perspective
Process success is the criteria that considers technical and managerial processes involving project management. This is considered to be a lower level criterion, but it provides a basis of critique and improvement of project processes. For example, in IT, the processes in development and deployment are reviewed post-project and it is determined if project management was a success. These post-project reviews typically consider if the correct processes were selected and applied appropriately and if they achieved the objectives of the project. This criterion gives a detailed examination of the project performance, which leads to learning and improving further processes.

Success from a Business Perspective
The measure of business success is also determined by schedule, time, cost, and quality; however, it is also measured by the degree to which objectives are met and how the company benefits financially. In other words, the objectives of the project relate to the goals of the project plan, and business objectives directly relate to the goals of the business plan. Both of these plans need to positively reflect each other in order to have a successful project. If the project doesn’t deliver the proper solutions that it was intended to carry out for the business, then the project is viewed as a failure.

Business success does take into consideration that project management practices or project deliverable could be inadequate, yet the project is still considered a success if the business objectives are met. There are many factors that determine technology project success. You could have failures throughout, but if the outcome is positive for your business, then it is considered successful.

Successful Strategies
Finally, the strategic success criteria represents the highest level of benefit achieved by a project. This is recognized by investors, peers, competitors, or even the general public, if applicable. Strategic success grants benefits that favor the company for future opportunities. This is considered the highest level of benefit, even if there are mistakes against lower level criteria. The fact is, it is the confirmation that a project delivered an outstanding end result.

There are many factors that determine what project success looks like. The truth is, success is much more than being on time, within budget, and on scope. Even with these key elements, there is still room for error. If you have any project-oriented questions, feel free to reach out. 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

Technology Resume Improvement

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

As a technology consulting firm, we are constantly being asked what the ideal technology resume should look like. There are many factors that go into a technology resume to make it stand out to employers. In this article, you will receive the necessary advice to greatly improve your resume so that you get interviews for your dream job.

What’s wrong with resumes?
There are many factors that make a resume good or bad. If you have a bad resume, it greatly affects your chances of getting a job. The truth is, even the smallest errors that are made in resumes are considered to be huge. These “little mistakes” include incorrect spelling, grammatical errors, and use of pronouns. These mistakes are considered small, but they are inexcusable and should not occur in your technology resume. Other larger mistakes include centering your resume on what your team has accomplished or your overall project rather than what you as an individual achieved, being overly verbose, lacking a qualification summary, and the list goes on.

When it comes to your resume, you want to home in on what’s really important and keep it concise. Your technology resume should not exceed four pages (five pages is the absolute max). Your ideal target should be around three or four pages. It also needs to be in reverse chronological order, having your most recent or current position at the top. Everything, except for the current position, needs to be written in past tense rather than present tense. This is a common mistake that throws off the entire resume. When listing your experience, you should also take out any position that was completed over 15 (or, at most, 20) years ago.

Another section that needs careful consideration is Education. If you went to a very prestigious school or have an advanced degree, it’s acceptable to put your education in the qualification summary. Otherwise, this section should be placed at the end of your technology resume. Most people in the technology industry have college degrees, so unless you have a very advanced degree, it should be placed at the end. If education is an important quality in the position you are applying for, then it is necessary to make it a bullet in your qualifications section. There are many factors that affect the placement of this, and it really depends on the role you are applying for.

The ideal resume
As a technology consulting firm, we have seen our fair share of resumes. The ideal resume begins with your name and contact information at the top. This may seem self-explanatory, but it’s very important and should not be overlooked. You’d be surprised how many resumes we’ve received where the contact information was incorrect or non-existent. You should include the city and state you live in, your cell phone number, and your email address.

Following your contact information, I want to see a four to five bullet qualification summary. It should state exactly who you are in a limited amount of space. I’m not talking about five-line bullets. Each point should be condensed to two to three lines stating who you are and what you do. This section is very important because it sums up your experience and really sells you as a technology candidate.

As mentioned earlier, education should follow this section depending on it’s importance and relevance to the role you are applying for. To save space, your education can be placed as a bullet in your qualification summary. Following this, IT consultants should have a technical skills category. This section should summarize what you have done and what technologies you are an expert in. However, this category should not exceed a half page.

Next on the ideal technology resume is your professional experience. This section should begin at the bottom of the first page. I don’t want to see experience starting on the second page. When your write your professional experience, it must be concise and action-oriented. Start each bullet with an action word such as led, participated, coordinated, developed, etc. It’s also highly recommended to use bullets because it is much easier to read than paragraphs. Utilize these bullets to explain exactly what you did, not what the team did, what the project was, or what the company does. This is strictly about you and your personal accomplishments. You are going to be evaluated on your experience, not anyone else’s.

One of the most important things you need to remember when writing your technology resume is that it needs to coincide with the role you are selling yourself for. If you have a slew of bullets that are not relevant to the Java Developer position you are applying for, they should be removed. There is no use in selling yourself for something you don’t want, not to mention it takes up space in your resume. This also applies to the qualification section, as it should reflect the job you are applying for. For example, if you have been in IT for 15 years, but the last seven of those years were concentrated in Java and Angular 4, you should lead with that as your first bullet. You want to clarify what you specialize in but also touch on your overall experience.

Tips and tricks
One of my biggest recommendations for improving your technology resume is to have someone review your resume before you apply to jobs. It’s always a good idea to have a second pair of eyes look over your resume and make sure it says exactly what you want it to say as well as making sure it pops to the reader. Your resume should remain concise and be very clear on what you are looking for. Your resume is your ticket to selling yourself to employers. Each section in your resume should target the role you want.
technology resume
It’s important to keep in mind that employers disregard resumes if they lack quality. If you submit a ten-page resume that is filled with errors, it shows that you didn’t take the time to review it and cut it down. If you didn’t take the time to do that, why should an employer? Your technology resume needs to speak for you – it is what gets you an interview (aka the opportunity to speak for yourself verbally), so make sure it’s perfect before submitting. If you have any questions regarding your resume, feel free to reach out. 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

Defining Jr, Mid, and Sr Level in Your Java Developer Career

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

Defining Jr, Mid, and Sr level in your Java Development career is based on a number of things. The truth is, it’s not based on just years of experience. When it comes to technology, and more specifically Java Development, the level you reach in your career is acquired through a culmination of experience, degrees, years working, titles, and more. What is the true level of your ability? In this article, you will discover how your Java Developer career level is defined and how to continue climbing to the top.

Defining each level
From a technology standpoint, defining your career level is much more than how many years you have worked. You have to consider the level of complexity when it comes to technologies and projects, how many additional or peripheral technologies the candidate is using, and how they are using Java in particular. Do they have front-end or back-end experience or are they full stack? Are they integrating with other technologies? It’s also important to consider that some people pick up skills faster than others.

If the complexity of the technology is not considered and the level is strictly defined by years of experience, then typically Jr level is 0-2 years, Mid-level is 3-6 years, and Sr level is 7+ years. But, as I previously mentioned, the level of your career is defined by much more than years of experience. If it’s based off of your skillset, Jr level candidates have basic and limited knowledge, Mid-level candidates have intermediate knowledge, and Sr level candidates have expert knowledge. As you gain more technology skills, the world is your oyster.

In the commercial world, the level of your career is heavily related to your experience. When considering what level you are, the order of importance goes as followed: experience, where you have worked, what technologies you have used, your degree, and title. In the government world, degree is very important when determining what level you are because you are placed in a labor category. In this sector, the order of importance when defining the level in your career are as followed: degree, years of experience, actual experience, and other technologies you’ve been exposed to. In each sector, there are different priorities when determining your career level. Government does not have the flexibility to move around different titles or levels, whereas it’s easier to do so in commercial work.

For example, we had a consultant that was very strong in Java, Spring, Boot, and Angular, but didn’t meet the requirement for years of experience. Because these particular skills are harder to find, an exception was made. The point is, that even though the consultant had a bachelor’s degree and six years of experience and the labor category was having a bachelor’s degree and seven years of experience, we were able to place him at a higher rating because of their highly qualified technology skills. This goes to show that the level in your career is not always defined by the amount of years you have worked but by the technology skills you possess.

Moving to the next level
A lot of this is determined by you. You have the ability to take the initiative and learn more technologies on your own. For example, you can take the time to learn an open source tool that goes along with Java and bring that to your manager’s attention, pointing out that you can use it to improve the project. This is something that earns you additional kudos and the opportunity to quickly move up a level. Using your knowledge, initiative, and continuous learning to develop your own skillsets is important in both the commercial and government sectors. No matter what, to move up in your career, your skills need to be at a certain level.
tech services
What you gain from each level
Ultimately, you receive similar gains from each level in your career. As you are moving up the ladder, you gain exposure to new technologies, higher compensation, and level of respect. You also become more recognized within your team, company, and even the outside community. You gain that recognition and ultimately validation.

With the experience and expertise you gain throughout your career, you should be putting yourself out there more. Whether you gain more knowledge on your own, present yourself as an expert on online platforms, or mentor others, you are doing more for your career. Overall, defining the level of your Java Developer career is based on many things, and there is always room for improving your skillsets and gaining more knowledge in technology.

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

Finding Your Jerry Maguire

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

Have you seen the movie Jerry Maguire? If not, here’s a quick overview: Tom Cruise plays a sports agent that works with some of largest names in sports for a company that handles all of the major athletes; however, he is dissatisfied with the lack of personal attention and service they provide to the careers and lives of the people they represent. Personally, this is one of my favorite movies and it happens to be very relevant to staffing. Jerry Maguire is a big-time sports agent and athletes need to heavily evaluate what is being offered to them before they sign on. In relation to technology staffing, candidates need to evaluate staffing firms before they decide to work with them. But, what higher level of service should you expect from the company? What should you expect from your Jerry? As a technology candidate, you should be picky when it comes to the consulting firm you choose to work with. Here are some things to look for in an IT professional services firm:

Caring
First, you should look for a staffing firm that has a reputation for caring about their employees. The staffing firm should not hold values that are strictly commoditized. Some people are all about the dollar, but most people are interested in having someone learn about them and making sure they are following their career path. A good technology consulting firm should provide you with someone who actually listens to you as a candidate, not one that just hears what they want to hear and slams you into a position because it’s good for them. The conversation should start something like, “Tell me about you. Where have you been? What do you want to do? How can I help you get there?” Investing time to review a profile and resume, learning about the candidate and their interests, and finding them the perfect match is how the process should go.

Some technology staffing firms are very numbers-driven, so they don’t have any interest in learning about the candidate and directing them in the right direction for their career. Their process is, “Do you fit my need? If not, I’m moving on to the next person.” When looking for the right firm, make sure they have a reputation for genuinely caring for their employees.

Benefits
When looking at a technology consulting firm, always consider if they have a comprehensive benefits package. It’s important to know how much the firm is willing to invest in you. Benefits include insurances, PTO/holidays/sick leave, company-paid options, 401(k), tuition reimbursement, etc. This is very important in a career, and it should be considered when finding your Jerry Maguire.

Career Path Guidance
How is the technology services firm going to help you expand your skills? You want someone who helps you set your career path and steer you in the right direction when getting you an interview. As mentioned earlier, some staffing firms are numbers-driven and don’t consider the career path of candidates. As a technology candidate, it’s important to go into a job knowing that it will help you in your career by expanding your skillset. A good technology consulting firm listens to your interests and guides you down your desired career path.

Community involvement
Another thing I think is very important, and is something that Centurion values, is community involvement as a company. What do people do to give back? Consulting firms that participate in community functions or charities are promoting a family-like atmosphere. Some people want to belong to a cause and be part of something, and some firms provide that.

Reputation
A famous line in Jerry Maguire is “help me help you.” The firm that you work for needs to have a great reputation and be built on integrity. This all starts with the leadership team and employees and how they conduct their business. If you are looking for your Jerry Maguire, super-agent, they need to be able to help you.

Jerry McGuire is Centurion. Like the movie, our internal leaders and “agents” used to work for very big firms in our industry, and now we have branched out on our own. The character of Jerry Maguire was on the same path of going from a large firm to being on his own, taking only one client with him. Similarly, Centurion started with just a handful of clients. Since Jerry Maguire had only one client, that client was his entire life and he did everything he could to get him the best results. This is what your technology consulting firm should be doing for you. They should take individual notes of you, your accomplishments, where you want to go, and what you want to make. They should gather all of the information that is important to you as a technology candidate, and work to get it all for you.
tech services
Working with people at a leadership or company level that are very well connected will benefit you. They offer you more opportunities. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be a big firm, but they need to be someone who listens to your needs and wants. It needs to be an individualized approach and using all the resources at your disposal.

When finding your technology consulting firm, consider the values of Jerry Maguire. In order for you to expand your career, you need a firm that works with you to help you accomplish your goals. If you want to find your Jerry, give us a call. Remember, “You had me at hello.” We are happy to help you in your career and look forward to working with 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

Best Tips for Your Senior Level Resume

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

As a technology consulting firm, we understand what we need to look for in a resume and most clients do as well. When reviewing a candidate resume, we look at it for about 30 seconds before moving on to the next. With that in mind, is your resume saying everything you’re trying to convey about your experience? Is it getting through to your audience well? Within that initial 30-second scan, we are looking for things that really stand out. In this article, you will discover what elements make a resume “pop,” so as a senior-level applicant, you land that perfect job for you.

The essential elements
The main job of your resume is to sell yourself on paper. I have long said that the resume is your opportunity to “talk” to a potential employer before you are asked for an interview and get the opportunity to physically speak for yourself. Let’s discuss the elements of a winning resume to get you that interview.

First, and most obvious, your resume should start with your name, phone number, and email address. Those are the three required elements. Following this section should be your summary. This summary should be a four to five bullet overview of your qualifications. Think of this section as the only part that is being read in the initial review process. In this case, you really want it to sell yourself to potential employers. If you are in IT, it should list your technical skills. This shouldn’t be a list of everything under the sun, instead only the things you want to be considered for in your career. The summary of your resume should also be tailored to the position that you are applying for with the company.

As a senior applicant, you have the opportunity to list a major achievements category. If this isn’t an option, your notable accomplishments can also be placed within your qualification summary. After this is all said and done, you should dive right into your work experience. Your technology experience should be listed in reverse chronological order. The details of each job description should be focused toward the position you are going after. If you are a senior person and you were involved in several different projects in your career, it is important to cut some of that fat out when listing your experience. Your resume should only be two to four pages in length, so only describe what is relevant to the desired position you applied for. As a technology consulting firm that is constantly reviewing IT resumes, we don’t mind seeing resumes that are five pages long, however, that should be the limit when it comes to length.

Following your work experience should be your education. As a senior-level technology candidate, you should be highlighting about 15 years of experience, and no more than 20 years. Anything older than that should be removed from your resume. This also applies to your education section. If you have a degree that is more than 20 years old, you should leave off the date in which you received it. Whether you have a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree, you should list where it is from and what the degree is, but leave out your GPA and the year you graduated.

Along with these sections, your senior-level resume should list any technical certifications you have. Make sure they are also relevant to the position you applied for. For instance, if you are applying for a Project Management position and you are a PMP or Agile Scrum Master, you should list it in your resume. In fact, certifications like this should be placed under your name or as a bullet in your initial qualification summary. Using this example, it should look something like this:

“PMP-certified Project Manager and Agile Scrum Master with over 15 years’ experience in IT specializing in…”

Make your resume stand out
To make your resume stand out, it should, as mentioned earlier, be tweaked to the position you are applying for. If it’s focused on a particular skill or set of skills, make sure you have several bullets about them throughout your resume and not just in your summary. These skills should be backed up by what is in the job description body of the work experience. Remember, if the person reading your resume only read your qualification summary, they should know whether they want to interview you for the job or not.

When writing your resume, be concise and choose your words well. Use action-oriented words and avoid using pronouns such as I, he/she/we, Mr./Mrs., etc. You should start off your summary with an action word and end with a period. Grammar and punctuation are very important when writing your resume and should remain consistent throughout.

A recruiter in a technology consulting firm is looking for a well-written resume that answers their questions before they ask them. Your summary should say exactly what you do in as few words as possible. They are also looking for your skills in the body of the resume. You should not be listing what your team did or what you were involved in, but what you did specifically. If the skills the recruiter is looking for pops out to them immediately in the body of the resume, it will spark their interest. To catch someone’s eye right away, have a short, sweet, and concise summary that draws them in to look further.

What NOT to do
Read over your resume carefully and make sure everything is perfect. You do NOT want your resume to check of any of these bullets:

  • Terrible grammar and punctuation
  • Over five pages
  • Highlighting all of your technical skills and not the ones relevant to the job description
  • Incomplete thoughts
  • Over bolding skills

IT talent acquisition
It’s always a good idea to have someone read over your resume before you submit it. Make sure this person has great written and verbal communication skills, so you know all grammar errors and long-winded sections are caught and revised properly. Overall, you want someone to double-check that you are conveying exactly what is needed.

Your senior-level technology resume should contain these essential elements for it to stand out from all of the other applicants. Your resume is your first selling point, so make sure it’s clean and to the point. If you have any questions on resume building, feel free to reach out. Good luck marketing yourself!

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 Build Your Career Path

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

As a technology consulting firm, almost every single conversation we have with candidates involves planning. Planning and creating your career path is something that technology candidates should be doing. Your end goal in your career is not just a distant dream. With proper planning and steps, it becomes a reality.

What is your plan? How will you get there? What do you need to retire? All of these questions are answered when mapping out your career path. If you want to eventually become a system architect, you need to figure out what being an architect means to you and how you want to get there. From there, you plan out the steps to get to your desired position.

Where to start
The process of creating your career path begins with the introspection of seeing where you are now, what’s in your skillset, and noting your experience. It all stems from what you currently have that you can build on. In this process, you need to be a realist because it’s not always going to be pie in the sky and perfect. You need to lay out your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Once you have figured this out internally, you should ask the same questions externally. Internally, you are building the foundation of where you are currently and externally, you are asking peers, bosses, and/or mentors their opinions on your skills and goals. Most leaders want you to be looking ahead and asking for help. However, your approach is important, and you need to let them know that you’re not necessarily looking to go outside of the organization, rather you’re wanting to build yourself within the organization. Approaching your leaders provides you with the information of what they believe you excel at and what you should work on.

You will gain valuable insights by asking outside opinions, including those of a technology consulting firm, regarding your technology career path. For instance, let’s say you are in tech support. From there, you need to get into an escalation path where you become a manager. Next, you go into network administration and then network engineering. Another example is that you have an operations background and you become a developer. Once you gained that technology exposure, you decide you want to move into a DevOps role. Your next step is becoming a DevOps engineer or a higher-level manager.

Technology is a constantly evolving field. When working in IT, you need to consider that technology changes on a dime. For instance, I know someone that has a very specific technology skill and has become an expert in it. The only problem in this case is that no one uses the particular technology anymore. The moral of the story is that it is very important to develop skills in multiple technologies because it is always changing and you never know when what is hot today will not be used tomorrow.

Your approach
First and foremost, you need to figure out your endgame. What is it that you’re going after? As a technology consulting firm, we are here to help you answer that question. You want to define your timeline. Figure out when you are going to retire and what position and salary you want to ultimately end up with. Once you have identified this, you need to evaluate where you currently are and create the path from A to Z. The next step is to set your goals. It’s very important to break down the steps of getting to your end goal. It’s an incremental process of establishing time periods in your career path. In a specific case, you need five years to become a network engineer, and so on. Plan your work and work your plan. Keep in mind that when establishing your technology career path, you should consider detours due to the fact that technology is always evolving. There is also the component of continuing your education. You always need to be learning new things and adding skills to your repertoire, otherwise you could become a dinosaur in a particular technology and not have anything to fall back on if it becomes obsolete.

Ideally, you should begin considering your career path right after graduating college. However, it’s never too late to map out your technology career. Bottom line, it has to be done at some point in time, otherwise you are moving blindly through your career. If you are creating your path upon your college graduation, you should be considering your five and ten year plan.

Validation
Ultimately, if you are achieving the goals that you have set for yourself, you can be proud that you are on the right track. However, you always have to keep your finger on the pulse when in the technology industry, so you don’t miss emerging technologies as they come out. In IT, you need a plan based on the knowledge that you have. Keep reconnecting with that knowledge, but also continue learning new technology that comes your way. With this in mind, you are able to tweak your plan according to the next best technology in the market as opposed to having to change your entire career path based on technology becoming outdated. It’s very important to validate that the path you are setting is sound.
technology consulting firm
As a technology consulting firm, we are here to assist you with your career path. As leaders and mentors, we are partners in your career and want to be sure you are taking the proper steps to get you to your end goal. If you need your technology career path validated, feel free to reach out. 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

Posted on Posted in Technology

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

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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