Here in the Roanoke Valley, we are fortunate to have numerous community resources for local job seekers. For my out-of-town readers, I’m hopeful you have a similar list to help you. Many of these resources are interactive where job seekers can ask experts in person or in online chat rooms, attend free resume writing workshops, and determine strengths for career changes through free assessment testing. You can even commiserate with other displaced workers in search of a new gig. Help is available!

Here’s what struck me about the people who take advantage of these resources. They find jobs more quickly, because they understand the multi-pronged approach is sure to produce better results. Here’s what I recommend for Southwest Virginians.

1. Visit the VEC to apply for benefits and learn how to navigate their website for job openings. They have a fairly decent list of openings at

2. Polish your resume and interviewing skills through several free workshops offered by the Roanoke Higher Education Center, every other Wednesday from noon to 12:45PM. Click Here to find out more about the Lunch and Learn Series. You DO have to pre-register. The RHEC also offers free assessment testing if you are thinking of changing careers.

3. Watch JobQuest on Blue Ridge PBS which airs once a month. The next episode is Tuesday, May 5th with interviews, an interactive chatroom, and at least 60 job openings. I’ll be giving tips on cover letter writing on our next episode.

4. Attend a networking sessions for the unemployed. Back on the Path meets at the Cave Spring United Methodist Church, every Tuesday evening from 7:30 to 9:00PM. While BOTP is not a job service, they have helped many of its members over the past nine years find meaningful employment.

5. Another networking group worth attending is sponsored by the City of Roanoke. Every Monday, Stuart Mease moderates a forum for job seekers beginning at 4PM.

6. Online job boards such as,,, and all offer postings of job vacancies in our area. They also host job fairs from time to time to put you face to face with your next employer.

7. Community Colleges. Employers and Tobacco Money are providing re-training programs that teach new skills for careers that are in demand. Financial Aid is still available and in some cases the tuition is paid for. Check out the various programs in our area.

8. WSLS NewsChannel 10 is offering “Resume Thursdays.” Email your resume to resumes You could win a free video resume package. (and probably a bunch of free TV exposure which might help you land your next job.)

If you don’t have the time or fortitude to write your own resume, or you just need to quickly “get to the front of the line,” consider hiring a professional resume writer. Find a writer, not a typist, who will interview you about your background and career. Don’t skimp on a decent resume, as it can help you get back to work more quickly. And in the long run, that’s money saved rather than a salary lost.

Susan Geary