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 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

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