The economy may be slowly improving and the jobless rate is down, but in many areas there are still people out of work and looking for jobs. We see them every day at the library using computers, seeking out books, and asking for help at the reference desk. Some of these job seekers need emotional support as well. As librarians, we want to help, but we are not trained to be career counselors. What do we do? Find partnerships!
Partnerships can provide you with extra resources to help job seekers. Identify which organizations in your community assist job seekers already. This list can include, but is not limited by, the following:
· County Workforce Services
· State Employment Agencies
· Local job clubs
· Career Services departments at local colleges and universities
· Career Services agencies
· Goodwill Workforce Connection Centers
· Recruiters and temp agencies
· Career Coaches
To start, invite representatives from these organizations to visit your library so they can see what you have to offer to job seekers. Share what your patrons need and your goals to help them. Next, arrange a meeting at their facility. You will gain firsthand knowledge about what these organizations can provide and you can easily share this with job seekers. Open the lines of communication, share brochures and flyers, and sign up for mailing lists.
Start referring your patrons to these organizations. Create a one page pathfinder or handout that includes contact information and website links to each agency. Distribute this to the job seekers who ask for help at the public services desk or make sure to put them on display for those who are too shy or embarrassed to ask. Make sure to update this list often and add the information to your library’s website as well.
Invite your new partners to present at your library. Many are willing to speak for free at public libraries or may ask for a small honorarium. Topics such as resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills, networking, and social media are all important to today’s job seekers. A different perspective and new strategies or skills can boost confidence, and the group setting will encourage networking among the participants and speakers. One never knows where they will find their next job lead.
As the list of partnerships grows, you will have more resources available to your job seekers. If you receive a good response, consider adding more services as time and budget allows. For more ideas, consult Project Compass’s Pathway for Job Seekers.