As Seen in The Richmond Times Dispatch November 20, 2008
By Carol Hazard

Karen Lucas sent out her résumé a week ago, the same day she was let go from Circuit City Stores Inc. She and about 700 others. Yesterday, Lucas was at a job fair led by Capital TechSearch Inc., a Richmond-based placement firm for Internet technology workers.
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“I’m looking for contacts and help with making my résumé better,” said Lucas, a single mother of a senior at University of Virginia. About 30 people attended the job fair in Innsbrook in western Henrico County. “I never thought my daughter and I would be in the job market together,” said Lucas, who had worked in IT for the Henrico-based electronics retailer for seven years. It’s a good thing her daughter has her sights on the Peace Corps and not IT, so they won’t be competing, Lucas said.

“It’s a tough time,” said David Ingram, president and chief executive officer of Capital TechSearch. The company hires tech people and places them in contract jobs. Ingram said he hoped the job fair would help people in their job searches and résumé writing.

Tips to remember include:

  • More than one résumé is good.
  • More than one page is good. You need to highlight your skills.
  • Don’t forget to send a hand-written thank-you note after the interview. It will distinguish you.

“We view ourselves as part of the solution — helping ease the transition, providing advice,” Ingram said. Other Richmond-area employers that have laid off workers recently include Qimonda, which is cutting 1,200 jobs as the memory chip maker shuts down part of its Henrico plant, and LandAmerica Financial Inc., which this month laid off 120 workers, mostly in IT. Walter Courtney of Hanover County said he came to the job fair looking for full-time work. He has done contract work since he was laid off from SunTrust Banks Inc. in 2004. He had worked at Crestar, the predecessor bank, for 30 years in computer operations and product management.

“A lot of people are applying for the same job,” he said. “I’ve heard there are 500 applications for every open position.” Pat Woods said he could see the layoffs coming at Circuit City, considering the condition of the company. He worked there for 15 years and received his notice in the most recent cutback. His wife works part-time. They have two children, 10 and 16. “I had already started looking and setting up interviews,” he said. Tens of thousands of people in the Richmond area work in technology jobs, said Chip Farmer, executive director of the Greater Richmond Technology Council. This downturn is nothing like the dot-com burst in 2001, which was focused solely on technology, he said. “Now, it’s nondiscriminatory, across the board,” Farmer said. “Technology is just a piece of it.”