Jump Start Your Own Economic Recovery

By Jamie W. RSS Wed, April 23, 2014

A recent piece in the Washington Post got me thinking about jobs and the recovery. By most accounts the worst of the Great Recession is behind us. The unemployment rate, while it's still about 2.3 percent higher than it was five years ago, is slowly falling. That doesn't mean that people are necessarily finding good jobs though, jobs with benefits, or the jobs they want. One reason for this is that there is often a mismatch between what an employer needs and what a job seeker has to offer. It's one of the factors that have made this recession so stubborn. This was the central thrust of that Washington Post article. 

The piece tells the story of a guy named Bernie in western Ohio. Bernie wants to hire four people to work in a factory that buys eggs from farmers and makes egg liquids for use in commercial baking. These are good jobs. But Bernie has a much tougher time filling them than he expected. 

It's also the story of the people looking for jobs in Bernie's factory and elsewhere. It's a tragedy of near-misses and should-have-beens. One job seeker in particular struck me because we see people like him in our libraries every day. His name is David. David is about 50 years old, has years of solid work experience behind him, but got downsized during the recession. 

When Bernie get's David's application email, he sees that the attached file is called, Dad'sResume.doc. Bernie's seen this kind of thing before and knows it means that David's kid probably helped him attach the file, they may have even written it for him, and neither David nor his son or daughter thought to change the title. It's means David's computer skills are subpar.  It's a good story and hopefully you'll read it, but without spoiling anything, I can say that Bernie decides to give David a chance anyway, though the ending may surprise you.  

It's a lucky break for David, one that not many people get.  As a librarian it makes me think of how valuable our services can be to all the Davids of the world. In each of the Free Library's 54 locations, you'll find computers you can use, Wi-Fi, and someone able to help you. You can take advantage of a program or a job fair like the one coming up next week. We won't write your resume for you, but sure, we can help you attach it and maybe even suggest a good file name.

But there's something else we've learned at the library over these past five years or so, people like David don't always like coming in and asking for help.  That's why we try so hard to make our services available where and when you are.  

Here are a few resources I wish I could tell David about. Each of these can be accessed from your home computer or mobile device, the public PCs in our libraries, on when you bring your laptop or device into a library to use our Wi-Fi.  You'll need your library card to login from outside a library and you'll find links to each of these resources on our Online Learning Portal and/or our database page. 

Universal Class: This is free online education for everyone. Register and take online courses in basic or more advanced computing, business writing, career development, finance, accounting, and much more. Once you complete a course you're awarded a certificate. And while it's not for college credit, it's certainly something to show a prospective employer.  Try it

Career Cruising: This is where you start -- or start over. Explore jobs. Take an assessment to match your skills and interests with jobs, find example resumes and cover letters, and learn about education and training options -- as well as financial aid. Try it

Learning Express Library: When you've decided it's time for the next step, whether that's finally completing your GED, taking the SAT or GRE to continue your education, or moving on with an CBEST, NCLEX, civil service, or military career test, this is where you'll find help, support, and practice exams to get you there.  Try it

Mango and Muzzy Languages: For many of us, language is the barrier keeping us from the job we want. These resources will help you prepare if English is not your first language. Mango is for everyone. Muzzy is designed for children, but many adults find the learning games and simpler teaching style a good place to start. Try them

Brainfuse Adult Learning Center: This is where you can bring it all together. Connect one-on-one with a live tutor to pass a test or finish a course. You can also submit your resume and cover letter to the Brainfuse writing center and a qualified teacher will read it and email you feedback within about 24 hours.  Try it.

At the Free Library, we've seen how hard the job search can be. That's why we're ready to help. Stop in and see us, email us, or leave a comment below. 

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