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

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Centurion Spotlight: Mark Villee

Posted on Posted in Technology

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

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: Jeff VanVoorhis

Posted on Posted in Technology

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

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