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

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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

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

Best Tips for Your Senior Level Resume

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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

Centurion Spotlight: Ted Meehan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Centurion Spotlight: Jeff VanVoorhis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Your Technology Personal Brand Part 2

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Your Technology Personal Brand Part 1

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