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Settlement Shows How Hard Life Is for Minorities at Tech Firms, Critics Say

While layoff victims interviewed last week doubted they'd actually find work by attending a pink-slip bash, some hoped to make valuable connections that could lead them to good jobs.

"I'm hoping to meet some people who might know somebody that might know somebody," explained Bill Sheridan, a Web page designer and database guru with more than 10 years' experience. Sheridan and his wife bought a house in southern Maryland just a few months before she was let go from NASD Inc. and his consulting work dried up.

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Barbara Amani, an account manager for the recruiting firm Acsys Inc. in Bethesda, said employers remain cautious. "The customers are hiring more temp-to-permanent," she said. "That way they get a chance to see what skills the employees have. Now you have to do more homework to find out where the need is."

For some foreign-born workers, there's an added sense of urgency. Vinita Negil, who departed Sapient Corp. earlier this month in a round of cuts, needs to find a job right away so she can remain in this country. Negil, a project manager who already has gone on interviews and met with recruiters, is cautiously optimistic about her chances.

"There are a lot of jobs out there," she said. "People have to be flexible on salary and where they want to work."

And the local tech scene is still better than what's happening in the San Francisco area, according to Dave Sprague, who recently moved to Arlington from Silicon Valley.

"The pink-slip parties out there are just huge," reported Sprague, a business development executive. "If you walked in there with a green [name] tag [denoting you are hiring workers], you'd be mauled."

Send tips, gripes and your impressions on punching the virtual time clock to Carrie Johnson at johnsonca@washpost.com.

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