Roanoke Career Fair Report

January 1, 2009

Brian Alexander and I manned the booth for Vision Point Systems at yesterday’s 2008 Roanoke Holiday Career and Lifestyle Fair put together by the City of Roanoke and Stuart Mease. My takeaways from the event really boil down to the following:

  • The industry we are in – Software and Business Consulting – is definitely not a good representation of the general population
  • There is very little trained talent out there for software related work that don’t already have good jobs.
  • Yes, there are a lot of people who are jobless, but a large percentage of those people are nowhere near suited for anything resembling a professional career.

In all of the business association and groups I participate in, it’s always a common topic that recruiting for tech jobs is near impossible, especially in the Roanoke and New River Areas. Yesterday’s event did nothing to dispell this thought. The only attendees that had specific experience or training in computer related fields consisted of some computer/electrical engineers with specific experience on a narrow field, and at least one college student studying technical writing. The vast majority of people were noticeably intimidated and quickly ran away any time I mentioned “design specification”.

I don’t know how unique VPS’s position really is, but we’re getting ready to hire multiple people going into 2009. I know many other local tech companies are looking for similar recruits, as evidenced by the NCTC Job board. I think this again shows that there is a dearth of talent stateside, especially in this region. I hope that one of the result of the pending “correction” in the economy is to get our youth into programs in the universities that would be helpful to the NewVa Corridor Tech community.

My other point about the preparedness of population for work really centers around professionalism and, frankly, laziness. I know the lifestyle is different in the white-collar, shake-hands, business community I’m a part of, but even if I was interviewing to be part-time dishwasher at a famous fast food franchise, I still don’t think I’d meet with the hiring manager wearing a Nascar jacket and cut-off shorts. I’m embellishing a bit, but not much. I don’t know how things got this way, but you’ll never see the local news channels comment on the people who apparently seemed to show up to the fair expecting jobs to be handed to them.

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4 Responses to “Roanoke Career Fair Report”

  1. Joe the Project Manager Says:

    Tell it like it is. Maybe it’s time for a visit to the schools. “Class, this is Mr. Schweitzer, a local business man, and he’s going to talk to you about Job Interviews.”

  2. stu measee Says:

    a lot of what you are saying is absolutely correct…job seekers need to take ownership of their searches and acquire the skills in demand…we have created 4 strategies to address this is in the short term – http://www.roanokeva.gov/jobhelp

    thanks for blogging about it…


  3. Is there any chance VPS could sponsor local tech training programs? NRCC has a Lab Tech program for biotech. Might VPS sponsor a class or a program to educate the kind of personnel it needs? I’ve worked some with the local unskilled labor force. Eager to take on new challenges, but need training.

    I appreciate your posts. Clearly written and thought-provoking. Thank you.


  4. […] spring. First up is the Spring Lifestyle and Career Fair in Roanoke this Wednesday March 4. We know how the last one went. Now that my expectations are set, I think I’ll be prepared to handle it better. I think the […]


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