Handling the In-Person Technology Interview

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Your Application Development Career and Leveraging Opportunities

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Consulting

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Networking Like a Pro

Posted on Posted in Consulting, Technology

by Theresa Zandi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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