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At Work

Laid-Off Tech Workers Find New Homes in Government Offices

By Carrie Johnson
Sunday, June 17, 2001; Page L01

Denise Hart has never been comfortable with uncertainty.

In February, however, change arrived whether Hart welcomed it or not. She found herself out of work after her longtime employer, a Virginia consulting firm, dismissed hundreds of workers in a cost-cutting move.

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"I was pretty much in complete shock for two days," Hart says.

Then she kicked her job search into full gear without a sense of where it might lead. And she found what she was looking for in an unexpected place.

For eight long weeks, Hart sent out résumés and made seemingly pointless phone calls. She met with two overloaded recruiters who had little advice. She talked with friends and former colleagues, looking for clues. She surfed the Web. Nothing seemed to click.

The search was a bit more complicated for Hart, 35, than it is for some -- in part because her expertise lay in technology consulting, but she couldn't maintain an exhaustive travel schedule like most in the business because she has two children under age 6.

"It took me four weeks to get the first interview and an additional four weeks to get the first offer," says Hart, who estimates she sent out more than 50 résumés. "Patience is key here."

Eventually she accepted a job with Amtrak, but within days another opportunity arose with the chief information officer's shop in Arlington County. Having spent her entire career in the private sector, Hart didn't necessarily think of herself as a government type, but "clearly the state of the economy demanded I leave no stone unturned," she explains.

Hart begins work tomorrow as a program management officer, working with companies and agencies that are interested in helping Arlington residents get access to government services online.

"I can walk to work," says Hart almost gleefully. "It's really a gem of a role and nothing I would necessarily expect to find."

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