Stephen Marva worked on the Navy's A-12 Stealth fighter for a Baltimore company. But the Pentagon canceled the project two months ago, and he was laid off in February.
Marva, 35, worked with computers for a subcontractor of Westinghouse, which laid off 1,200 workers last month.
"I've never really considered government work before," said Marva, who attended a job fair yesterday at the Anne Arundel County Community College. "But now I am. I want some security."
Marva, who lives in Annapolis, said he's been laid off twice, both times working forsmall defense contractors. "They are going to do that, especially the small companies," he said.
"Things are looking up," Marva said. "I've got a couple of interviews coming up. Hopefully, one will come through in another month or so."
Marva was one of the nearly 1,800 people who attended the job fair, sponsored by the Anne Arundel Trade Council. They were a cross-section, from college freshman, like Monica Boston, who was looking for a part-time job in the banking or hotel industry, to Marva, an engineer.
Jeanette Wessel, executive vice president for the Trade Council, said organizers purposely set up for the wide variety of job seekers. "Companies like that because they can see people seeking entry-level positions to those who can help fill more senior slots."
Carol Dryfuss, the Trade Council communications director, said the council knew recently laid-off professionals might be coming, so they tried to recruit businesses in need of senior employees.
Marva, as well as some future engineers, said they were having a tough time finding a job -- or even a place to start looking. The only engineering firm at the fair was McCrone, an Annapolis-based civil engineering company specializing in land development.
Randolph Peterson, a business development engineer for the company, said he had to turn many former Westinghouse employees away. "I feel sorry for them," he said.
Peterson said his company has a few selected positions, most for people with at least 15 years' experience. Entry-level positions are filled through co-op programs.
Chuck Ruth, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Maryland Baltimore County majoring in mechanical engineering, said the job market is "real tough."
"I have 30 resumes out there and haven't gotten one phone call. There are not any openings. They don't have anything. I didn't expect it to be this bad," he said.
Many companies at the fair said they had no problem filling positions. Don McKinney, director of personnel for Pizza Hut of Maryland, said management applications are flowing in.
"Six months ago, we were getting three or four a day," said McKinney, who represents 35 stores in six counties. "We are getting12 to 15 now."
Don Iodice, a general agent for Northwest Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Maryland, also said he had no problem filling sales positions. "There are a lot of people out there to hire right now."
Angela Diggs, of Annapolis, is one of them. She was at the fair looking for full-time job. She works for Giant but only is allowed to put in 18 hours a week. Now, she wants more of a career.
"The job market is pretty much what I expected," she said. "It's going to get tougher after all the college students get out."
It can be harder to find a part-time job, however, especially for those looking for one in a field they may want to pursue as a career. Boston, the community college freshman, said she can't find what she wants on a part-time basis.
"Most don't have the positions you really want or are not really flexible," she said. "I'm working on it, though."