Hundreds of job seekers and job givers networked at the Job Hunters Boot Camp hosted by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) on Tuesday afternoon at T.C. Williams High School.
“Northern Virginia is doing better than virtually anywhere else in the country; our unemployment rate remains less than half the national average," Moran told the audience. "A large part of this success stems from our partnership with the federal government. Last year, total federal spending in Virginia topped $155 billion. The 8th District received $44.4 billion, over a third of the total spent in our state. Northern Virginia has weathered the recession better than most, but statistics like these are small solace if you do not have a job."
The school cafeteria was full of attendees looking spiffy in business suits chatting with human resources representatives and others who explained their companies and goals.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Keith White, who was laid off from his job as a concierge at an Washington, D.C., law firm in September.
“Rep. Moran is great, and he really cares about us,” he said, adding he was excited to have access to so many job possibilities.
“I’m really looking for anything right now. My former job was great but the firm was downsizing because of the economy,” he said.
Moran said the purpose of the day's event was to help the approximately 1,000 attendees who are “looking for a job and those looking to find a job more suited to their interests assemble the most attractive package to present potential employers."
In addition to mingling at the company booths in the cafeteria, many job seekers attended workshops held throughout the morning focusing on issues such as resume writing, networking, interviewing and how to get a job for older workers.
There were also employer panel discussions broken out by industry, including defense and technology, consulting, financial services, health care and travel and hospitality. Companies represented included Cardinal Bank, GeoEye, Hilton, Hyatt, Inova, Northrop Grumman, Sunrise Senior Living and Virginia Commerce Bank.
White spoke with Michelle Wertz, a recruiter staffing the booth for CACI. Wertz said the company has more than 400 positions open ranging from administrative assistants and information technology specialists to engineers.
Attendee Fulvia Garcia said she has been unemployed on and off since 2009 due to companies making cut-backs during the recession.
“It’s really hurting my wallet. I’m really looking for anything at this point,” she said.
Garcia struck up a conversation with Iantress Bennett, a project staff manager for SAIC, which had a booth at the event.
Garcia told Bennett she had been working in the health care industry and had an associate degree in information technology and an undergraduate degree in health science.
Bennett told Patch that the recession and other issues have really changed the way firms are reviewing resumes.
“Maybe 10 years ago, longevity was important on a resume,” she said. “Now you’ll be lucky to find candidates who have been in a position for a year or more” because companies have made so many layoffs.
Garcia said the Washington area has more jobs than many areas but sometimes “it’s intimidating because I only have two degrees” when there’s so many people who are unemployed who have more and speak several languages.
“What I really need is luck,” she said, adding “and maybe this job fair.”