Job hunting on Capitol Hill can be a frustrating as well as grueling endeavor. But for residents of the 10th congressional district, Rep. Joseph Fisher (D-Va.) provides help.
Besieged with more than 2,000 resumes when first elected to the House in 1974, and constantly being approached by constituents for job leads, Fisher has initiated his own referral service.
For the past two years, Fisher staff aide Celina Hutchison has compiled a list of local job seekers with a brief synopsis of the applicants' background and job experience. The list is circulated to all representatives, senators and committees.
According to Hutchison, at least one or two persons on each list is hired for a job on Capitol Hill.
"There's no way of knowing exactly how may of our constituents have gotten jobs from being on the list," said Hutchison. "But we try to keep track of most of the people who come in."
Fisher said he originally came up with the idea when other congressmen began approaching him asking for qualified people since he was from the area.
"We were getting so many people looking for jobs that we had to come up with a way to deal with it," explained Fisher. "And when my colleagues started asking me to suggest people, I figured this was the best possible way."
Gary Glass, 22, of Arlington, a recently hired clerk on the Joint Committee of Internal Revenue and Taxation, "can't say enough about Rep. Fisher's job listings.
"I don't think I could have gotten a job without it," said Glass, who kept his name on the list for a year and a half before he landed his new job. "I feel I got a job up here violating all the rules - no prior experience, and I didn't know anyone. I was just persistent."
Another Arlington man, William Dereuter, "started getting calls about three weeks after I went on the list." Dereuter, who now works for Sen. William Roth (R-Del.), said, "It's invaluable as far as I'm concerned. I doubt that my qualifications would have been brought to anyone's attention without the help of that list."
Not all Hill job seekers found Fisher's list helpful. Many were called who haven't found a job, and some never heard a word after their names were placed on the list.
The initial response to the listing was so favorable that the office was forced to limit eligibility for the list to constituents.
According to Hutchison, other congressmen were sending their constituents to Fisher's office to get on the list. However, the decision to limit it has uncovered some pretty desperate job hunters.
"When I asked one man for his home address to see if he lived in the district he told me he didn't have an address because his house had burned down," said Hutchison.
"People want to get on the list so bad they tell us they used to live in the district or they're about to move there. One woman even told us her mother used to drive through the district."
It takes Hutchison an average of two days to compile the 10-page list. She works from resumes and personal interviews with the applicants.
In certain cases, if a constituent requests, Fisher will send a personal letter of recommendation. According to Hutchison, very few people have been turned down because of a lack of qualifications.