in Hampton Roads
The salt taste of tidewater has defined the 10 independent cities and six counties in southeast Virginia known as Hampton Roads for more than four centuries. The region’s harbor, the Port of Virginia, is the nation’s largest natural ice-free, year-round port and the fastest-growing on the East Coast. Other thriving business categories identified by the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance include aerospace and aviation, corporate and professional, maritime and logistics, modeling and simulation and advanced manufacturing, with health care also in the mix.
The maritime transportation possibilities drew the first English colonists to establish Jamestown, their first colony in the New World, in 1607. Trade, agriculture, the military and, more recently, manufacturing have led the way to growth over the years.
A dense, coordinated transportation network makes Hampton Roads one of the most connected places in the country. East-west I-64 circles the metropolitan area serving Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Newport News, with an offshoot to Virginia Beach. North-south I-85 and I-95 lie to the west. Six big bridges span the watery landscape, and five tunnels burrow under it, among them the famed Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that links Hampton Roads with Virginia’s Eastern Shore and, from thence, Maryland and the New York/New Jersey corridor, good for truckers and travelers alike.
Air passengers and cargo shippers can choose between Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport and its AirCommerce Industrial Park, or Norfolk International Airport, which is among the top U.S. airports in terms of the millions of passengers that pass through it every year.
Five regional public-use airports are available for general aviation. Amtrak has passenger service, and CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads haul cargo in transit through the Port of Virginia throughout the East Coast and Midwest. That busy port includes the largest naval base in the world, healthy shipbuilding and repair businesses, the sixth-largest containerized cargo complex in the U.S., and major coal export operations. Just under 30 international shipping lines connect the port to more than 200 countries worldwide, and an economic impact study by the College of William and Mary found that 343,000 jobs — almost 10 percent of Virginia’s workforce — spin off port activities.
Farming, timber and fisheries have been part of the Hampton Roads economy for many years, from Smithfield Ham’s peanut-fed hogs to Pongo’s annual May Strawberry Festival, and it is one of five designated areas where Virginia agriculture has had its greatest impact. Since the fields are mostly flat and the climate mild, tabletop crops, soybeans, grain and greenhouse and nursery stock are major components of the sector, though some farmers are toying with hops for the increasing number of craft breweries, and four wineries keep busy growing grapes and bottling wine.
The housing slump hurt the timber industry, and the solid wood furniture manufacturers have seen demand shift overseas, but biomass energy production is healthy.
The region’s seed oysters produce roughly 25 percent of all the nation’s oysters, though blue crabs hold increasing pride of place. Fishing in Hampton Roads can be as simple as dropping a bobber off a pier to chartering a vessel to go after striped bass, red or black drum, or flounder at sea. Commercial fishing operations are being edged out by other shoreline ventures, such as hotels and condos, though, Hampton Roads still ranks among major U.S. ports in its total value of commercial fishery landings. To bolster the commercial fleet, Newport News Seafood Industrial Park has developed a harbor to handle water-dependent industries, among them seafood processing, packing and boat building and repair.
Natural beauty, beaches, lots of water, three national wildlife refuges and plenty of history, including the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown, combine to draw millions of domestic tourists, who spend billions on transportation, lodging, food, amusement and recreation as well as shopping, says the Virginia Tourism Corp. Think swimming, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, wildlife viewing, birding, camping, miles and miles of trails, hiking, backpacking, fishing, golfing (dozens of courses between Williamsburg and the Eastern Shore alone) — even cruises. The travel industry is among the largest private employers in Virginia.
Joint Base Langley-Eustis
Despite government belt-tightening, military dollars still drive the Hampton Roads economy. In 2010, the Army base Fort Eustis in Newport News and Langley Air Force Base in Hampton merged under orders from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to become Joint Base Langley-Eustis, though they retain their physical locations, separated by 17 miles. The bases together have 15,000 military personnel, 6,000 civilian workers and 33,700 dependents, according to the 2016 Joint Base Langley-Eustis Economic Impact Analysis. In all, JBLE had a total economic impact of $2.1 billion.
At the national level, websites such as www.linkedin.com, www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com and www.indeed.com have extensive search capabilities as well as resume tips, forum support and professional networking options.
The National Military Spouse Network, a networking, mentoring and professional development organization, has a wealth of career information at its website, www.nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org. The group aims to help military spouses build a meaningful, sustained career path and offers a library of articles that touch on topics like entrepreneurship, resume tips, self-promotion and more as well as a membership-only discussion forum. The organization also features companies that are military spouse-owned or military spouse-friendly on its Homefront Business Listings page.
Virginia Workforce Connection
The state’s career development system brings together businesses, educational institutions and state agencies to connect job seekers to opportunities that help them develop their careers. Individuals receive support, education and training that prepare them for jobs.
Commonwealth of Virginia
Commonwealth of Virginia offers an online employment and resource center for people looking for job opportunities with state government. The easy-to-use website allows users to search for jobs by category, department or location and then apply online.
Gloucester County does not accept paper applications. It provides job postings online with salaries and an employment application guide to steer users through the process.
Isle of Wight County
Openings are posted at this website; click on “Employment Opportunities” and follow instructions to review job postings and to apply online. The website also provides a “Related Websites” link for more job resources.
James City County
This career center site provides a link to job openings and to benefits and compensation.
This site walks applicants through the process, start to finish, for searching for job postings and applying online.
City of Chesapeake
The city of Chesapeake provides a jobs posting and a link to create an online application.
City of Franklin
The city of Franklin provides a link to job postings and online applications as well as a Workforce Development Center.
City of Hampton
Some jobs here are open to all and others only to city employees.
City of Newport News
Newport News provides a link to employment opportunities and online applications.
City of Norfolk
Norfolk lists its jobs alphabetically from accounting to zoo.
City of Poquoson
When job openings come up, they’re posted on this city website.
City of Portsmouth
These postings are updated every week.
City of Suffolk
Career opportunities are listed on this page.
City of Virginia Beach
The website offers job opportunities with the city.
City of Williamsburg
The website lists job openings with the city that include salary ranges.
An employment agency can offer posts ranging from high-level administration to warehouse work. Many employers use agencies as their human resources department. Agencies advertise, interview, test and manage payroll. A temp-to-perm arrangement allows the employer and prospective employee to evaluate each other before committing to permanent employment.
Municipal and regional chambers of commerce include local employment agencies in their member lists, along with contact information. See Page 24 for a list of chambers of commerce in Hampton Roads.
Always keep your resume up-to-date and have several versions that target specific industries and highlight your skills that fit their job descriptions.
Compile several reference lists with a good variety of people and former business associates. Be sure to first ask each if you can use them as references.
Compose a comprehensive, catchy and succinct cover letter of no more than a page (this is no place to ramble). It will introduce you and your desire to work for the company. Have a knowledgeable friend check it for errors; misspelled words and bad grammar hint at carelessness and indifference. Know what the company does, and highlight skills, work experience and education that apply to the position.
Maintain a positive, professional and broad-based presence on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn; almost all employers search social media sites to vet job candidates, and your absence there will raise red flags. Also be aware that images and comments posted spur-of-the-moment can be searched out forever and come back to haunt you.
Be prepared for an interview at any time. When you submit your application, a supervisor may want to talk immediately, or the phone may ring with a call from a hiring director. Compose — and rehearse — your one-minute self-promotional speech on who you are, an achievement or two and your strengths. It’s not vanity to make a good first impression. If a supervisor wants to know why she should hire you, be ready.
Always follow up with thank-you letters and calls. Even today, a letter, as well as the quick-response email, will separate you from a surprising number of the other applicants — to your advantage — and keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Judicious calls display your continued interest. Writing out beforehand what you want to say helps. So does rehearsal.
Be aware that due to the usually huge numbers of applicants, most companies are able to follow up only with candidates in whom they are interested. Don’t take it personally if you are not notified that you did not get the job.
Visit www.usajobs.gov to search for Department of Defense jobs at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
For base exchange jobs, visit the AAFES career page at www.applymyexchange.com and search for Langley or Eustis.
Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance
The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, with offices in Norfolk and Newport News ( www.hreda.com ), works actively to attract new businesses and ensure their success with confidential and free assistance ranging from information to help in finding appropriate locations. Entrepreneurs also can get advice and support from:
- Virginia Small Business Development Center Hampton Roads
- SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
- Hampton Roads Veterans Business Outreach Center
- Women’s Business Center
- Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAP)
- Hampton Roads
Chamber of Commerce
- Franklin Southampton Economic Development
- Hampton University Business Incubator
Small Business Resources
Learn the steps to start and grow a small business at USA.gov’s Small Business website. The platform features hand-picked government websites helpful to small business owners. Learn about business taxes and incentives, financing a business, importing and exporting, federal government contracting, state business resources and more. The website also provides information on a wide range of programs and services to help veterans, women, minorities and the economically disadvantaged start or grow a business.