In recent years, it has become commonplace for public libraries to offer career resources to adults. Due to the fragile state of the economy and high unemployment figures, many of us help our patrons tweak their resumes, craft the perfect cover letter, or search online for job openings. Adults, however, are not the only ones affected by a weak job market; teens looking for after school or summer jobs are up against the same struggle. In fact, based on their lack of work and interview experience, some may argue that young adults face an even steeper uphill battle when it comes to securing jobs.
Many public libraries have begun to recognize this dilemma, with one of the most notable initiatives coming out of the University Heights branch of Cleveland’s Heights Library. Last month, this branch hosted a series of three career workshops for young adults, called Teen Job Prep. 1 Topics of discussion included resume writing, best practices for completing job applications, and how to make a good first impression at an interview. The series came to a close with a teen-specific job fair where participants could meet real employers who were willing to hire students.
One of the perks of teen-specific career programming is that many high school students have not yet learned the nuances of job searching that so many adults take for granted. For example, Teen Job Prep addressed some dos and don’ts of making a strong first impression on a potential employer, including not chewing gum during an interview and avoiding low-rise or revealing pants. Moreover, if a teen has never had to apply for a job before, he or she may not even know how to find openings or construct a professional resume. Career resources geared primarily towards teens can highlight these finer points, which may seem monotonous to adults.
Teen Job Prep was a novel and highly useful program to residents of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights area, where the poverty level has reached upwards of 18 percent, but a similar program is key in all socioeconomic environments. In its most recent report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counts youth unemployment at 16.3 percent nationwide2, far higher than the total April 2014 unemployment rate of 6.3 percent3. BLS defines “youth” as 16-24 year-olds, and this figure is driven even higher if cut off at age 19, the maximum age for Teen Job Prep. Youth unemployment is a problem across the country, and few resources are presently available for the affected.
Providing teens with the tools they need to find a job is an investment that will pay off for years. As people retire later in life, the amount of time today’s youth spend in the workforce will increase. Participants can use what they learn as they move up through their careers and apply for work in the future.
Does your library currently offer career resources or training for teens?
 Akins, E. (2014, April 27). Heights Library presents Teen Job Prep Series and Job Fair for local youth. cleveland.com. Retrieved May 3, 2014, from http://www.cleveland.com/university-heights/index.ssf/2014/04/heights_libraries_presents_tee.html
 CPS News Releases. (2014, May 2). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.bls.gov/cps/