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PA Forward: Civic and Social Literacy through providing Job Help

Caitlyn Bovard
Caitlyn Bovard

by Caitlyn Bovard

As librarians, we wear many hats. Over the last several years, our ‘hat’ in providing job and career support for individuals in our communities has increased significantly. Whether your library is serving a large urban community, a small rural town or even in an academic setting, here are some ideas fjob imageor how you can increase your civic and social literacy support through job help.

Provide Online and Print Resources: The simplest service we can provide for job help is offering a wide range of print resources. These resources are the least intimidating for patrons to take advantage of and often play an integral part in preparing patrons to take the next step in career development. In addition to print resources, consider providing online job resources via links on your library’s website.

Cover letters & Resumes: Offer an open time periodically when patrons can bring in their cover letters and resumes to be reviewed for better formatting, grammatical errors and general wording. Instead of an open time, you could choose to offer this as a one-on-one service or by appointment only. If there is a lot of cover letter and resume interest at your library, you could also opt to have a program to discuss how to format and what to include in a cover letter and resume. Here is a sample presentation on how to compose a cover letter & resume.

resume picture Interview Tips and Tricks: Consider presenting a program on the dos and don’ts of a great interview. Here is a sample presentation for interview tips and tricks.

Mock Interviews: We have all been through the interview process. It is challenging, competitive and sometimes downright nerve wracking. One of the best ways to prepare for interviews is to practice doing it. As librarians, we can offer mock interviews as a service to patrons, providing them with insightful feedback as to what they did well and provide positive criticism in areas that could be improved on.

people at computersComputer Classes : Computer classes definitely fall into the category of job help, but consider upping the ante. Offer a certificate of completion for a those who attend an entire computer class series or even for each individual class. This gives patrons an extra credential to bulk up their resumes if they need it. If you’re not already, some classes to consider offering are Intro to the Internet, Computer Basics, Microsoft Word, and Excel.

Job Search Classes: Sure, some retail stores and restaurants still post ‘We’re Hiring’ signs in their windows, but for many other job openings the search process isn’t so simple. Host a class session on how to effectively search for jobs online. Include recommended online job resources such as Indeed, which aggregates other job search websites for easy searching or Craigslist with postings by individuals and companies for all kinds of work. Do sample searches on these websites as well as others you know could be helpful. Be sure to point out that specific company websites are a great place to look for employment. Also, bring up the importance of using synonyms in job searching. E.g.: administrative assistant, secretary, clerk, clerical assistant, etc.

Email Class: Email addresses are now required in order to apply for jobs online. This can be frustrating to those who struggle with computer literacy skills and have avoided needing an email up until applying for a job. Consider offering a class on email where you go through the process of signing up for an email address as a group. Clarify that an email address should be professional. Then explain basic functions and features of the particular email. Email signups could also be offered via one-on-one appointment.

Online Application Appointments:  Online applications are often lengthy. They can be stressful for patrons who are unfamiliar with the process and even more so for those who aren’t practiced on computers. Librarians can offer a sit down appointment with patrons to walk them through their first online job application. While all the answers and information comes from the patron, we as librarians can assist in helping them navigate from window to window, show them how to attach documents and troubleshoot any problems that could occur, such as information that wasn’t entered correctly. Creating an email address could be included occasionally for this session. Be sure patrons write down the username and password if it was required.

Practice Online Job Application: Consider adding this practice job application to your library’s website.

LinkedIn Class: LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service that has a good job search section, especially for professionals looking for salaried or contract work. Consider offering a class to discuss this social network’s benefits, show how to create a profile, make professional connections and search for jobs.

Host a Networking Session: If your library has the space, considering using it to host a Networking Session. Advertise to target audiences and provide some coffee and snacks for an easy hour of chit chat. Also, check with your local chamber of commerce for possible advertising and guest invitations.

group of people standing

Dress for Success: Team up with a local organization such as Dress for Success to offer a time where people can come to the library to look for professional clothing. I you don’t have any local organizations nearby to help with this, run your own clothing drive and host a similar program independently.

Host a Job Fair: If your library has a meeting space, consider being the host of a job fair. This could be a large event with multiple hiring companies or a smaller event with just one. To organize this, reach out to companies, organizations, stores and restaurants to find out if they are currently or will be hiring and find out if they’d be interested in partnering with the library to do so. Consider offering resume assistance prior to the event.

If your library already offers some of these services, don’t forget that not only are you offering valuable tools to your patrons, but PA Forward Civic and Social Literacies to brag about in your future elevator talks, flyers and proposals. Don’t forget to share your own library’s job and career services through the PA Forward Best Practices Short Form and check out what other libraries are doing on the PA Forward Best Practices Database.PA Forward Logo of Five Literacies



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