A few weeks ago, Wisconsin was the focus of national media attention with the announcement that Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, Foxconn, is set to open a plant in the southeastern portion of the state. Though much is still up in the air, Governor Walker estimated that the new industry could bring up to 13,000 jobs to Wisconsin. Exciting developments like this one also highlight the competition that faces those searching for jobs. According to a report by Wisconsin WORKnet, “On the workforce front, there is much discussion of the “skills gap” – the inability of employers to find and keep skilled workers. One anecdote often voiced is that Wisconsin companies could expand business if only they could find and retain skilled workers.” For job seekers, landing that perfect job is not easy. Besides the required qualifications, most employers require detailed resumes, professional cover letters, and impeccable interview skills. Job hunting has other hurdles too, including complicated online application processes. For those with little tech skills or who lack a home computer or stable Internet access, applying for a job becomes frustrating at best and impossible at worst.
Job Hunting Tools at the Library
The local libraries in Jefferson and Waukesha County have free tools and resources that solve many of these job hunting problems. One of them teaches you new skills so you can amp up your job qualifications. Gale Courses provides online, go-at-your-own-pace classes, led by professional instructors. With over 300 class options, there is something for everyone who needs to expand their knowledge and skills for the workforce. In 2016, we had over 3500 registrations for classes in Microsoft Excel, coding in XML or HTML, accounting and finance, project management, and many more. A full course list is at www.bridgeslibrarysystem.org/classes.
Crafting the perfect resume and cover letter is always a challenging aspect of job hunting. Many resume templates and online review services cost money, and there aren’t many free options. To address this, your local library now has a new online tool called JobNow. Using your library card, you can log on at home and download free resume templates, take certification practice tests, and search job lists. The coolest part? You can upload your resume and get feedback within 24 hours. Or practice your interview skills by doing a live practice interview with an interview coach. Our goal is that JobNow will help you prepare and boost your confidence so that you can get the job you want.
But no matter how much you prep, things can still happen to knock you off course. If your computer dies or the printer runs out of ink while you’re in the middle of an application, the library is the place to be. Computers, printers, and free WiFi are available at every library, free of charge, so you can get that application in on time. Many libraries lead programs on computer basics and other tech skills that will help anyone who is job hunting get ahead. And don’t discount the value of librarians as an important resource in your job hunt! Sure, they’re busy shelving books and leading programs, but these trained information seekers are there to help you out. Feel free to ask if you need help uploading your resume, searching the job boards, or finding a book to brush up on your knowledge.
Libraries are here to open doors and provide a helping hand. By providing quality job hunting tools, your library helps individuals succeed, strengthens the local economy, and makes our communities better for everyone.