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In Cooling Job Market, Some Tech Sectors Are Still Hot

Of course, there's always the delicate issue of having to pass a security check yourself. Consider yourself forewarned: In that context, questions routinely arise about U.S. citizenship, prior arrests, drug use and even past international travel.

While information security poses a somewhat new demand, good old-fashioned software developers with experience will continue to command high salaries. People with Java, C++ and Visual Basic prowess are especially hot, according to RHI's 2001 salary survey (www.rhic.com). Jobs at biotech companies and optical-networking firms also will remain plentiful, especially compared with the carnage some dot-coms have experienced over the past several months.

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Finally, don't forget to take a broad view of technology. If you've sworn off those dot-coms, remember that there are other companies out there in which to ply your trade.

"The actual recruits are still in high need, but it's coming from different areas," says Paul Stefunek, who does Internet placements for the Stratford Group.

Among the industries needing more techies this year are insurance and financial services. Those paper-intensive sectors are shifting more of their resources toward the electronic exchange of information, in part because of electronic-signature legislation that Congress passed last year, say experts.

"Insurers are realizing they must add an e-commerce component to their businesses," says John Savercool of the American Insurance Association. "It's important not only to do business online through online sales but also to communicate online with customers."

Leonard Stevens, a New Jersey recruiter for the insurance sector, said his clients get most excited over job candidates with sales and marketing experience in the e-commerce arena, "not necessarily super techies."

"They're willing to take some chances on people with experience and with a strong understanding of sales and a financial services background," says Stevens, of Stevens, Valentine & McKeever.

Beta Test

Relax, worried University of Virginia alums: A career counselor may be coming your way soon.

Job experts at the Charlottesville school will journey upstate for a few weeks, from tomorrow to Feb. 28, to offer free guidance to grads who have fallen victim to layoffs, are confused about the future or are just plain stuck in a rut.

Emily Bardeen, director of the alumni career services center, says the initiative is a test run to see whether there's enough interest to establish a permanent office in the Washington area. The numbers are here, she says.

"There are around 27,000 alums in Northern Virginia alone, not including D.C. or Maryland," says Bardeen.

The one-hour appointments for local alumni are virtually booked -- as much a reflection of the uncertainty among workers in the region as an acknowledgment that job seekers are becoming more proactive.

Instant Reply

Here's a postscript, passed along by a reader, to a column last month urging newbies to listen to industry veterans.

Arlington County and private land developers last month recognized a legendary techie by naming a park for her. Grace Murray Hopper Park sits in front of the River House Apartments on South Joyce Street. Hopper was a petite Navy admiral who helped invent the Cobol language and program early computers. Hopper, who lived in Arlington near the park, won the National Medal of Technology from President George Bush in 1991. She died in 1992.

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

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