CICF News / 2012 / March / News Post
March 28, 2012
Cutting Unemployment... By the Books

Libraries and Workforce Development Work Together to Help Jobseekers

With an interview scheduled for the afternoon, Jane, a jobseeker in her late 30s, stopped by her local library in need of a resume. While her Warren Branch librarians could direct her to a resume builder site and print resources, due to a new partnership, they were also able to connect her directly with a trained WorkOne professional for help. Working alongside the jobseeker, WorkOne’s Robin Blair helped her create and tailor her new resume for her interview. Three days later, Jane came back to the Warren Branch, sharing her good news that she got the job.

Mobile Labs Improve Job Searches and Outcomes

Libraries have always been a valuable resource for job seekers. Access to computers and the Internet, critical tools for today’s job search, allow patrons to find open positions and apply to them. But in a challenging economy and facing their own budget cuts, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) recognized that patrons needed more personalized services like resume writing help, interview preparation and help managing online application processes to help them compete in today’s difficult economy.

In partnership with EmployIndy’s WorkOne offices, IMCPL created Job Center Mobile Labs in six library branches in 2011. This project receives financial support from the Indianapolis Foundation Library Fund and the Glick Fund, both Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) funds. WorkOne staff and library assistants work together in the Job Centers, providing individual support to job seekers. With six laptops available at each participating branch, people who need help can find both the expertise and technology needed for success in today’s job market.

Since the Job Center Mobile Labs launched in June 2011, more than 4,000 visitors have used the labs’ services to advance their job search, resume writing, interview and computer skills. They also receive free USB flash drives, transportable memory devices on which they can save resumes and important documents. In addition to these services, 34 Job Center visitors connect to more in-depth WorkOne services and programs on average each month.

The IMCPL-WorkOne partnership provides local job seekers with the individualized help they need. Beyond that practical reality, the Job Center staff helps patrons find hope and realize small but necessary successes on their path to employment like refined resumes, interview practice or just the confirmation that their online application makes it to a hiring manager.

Unemployment in 2012

Americans over 55 have faced significant challenges in the current economy. In November 2007, the unemployment rate for people over 55 was 2.9%. By November 2011, that rate was 6.2%, falling from its peak at 7.6% in 2010.

The job search of 2012 is very different from what many older workers have experienced in the past. Employers generally require applicants to complete online forms or submit resumes and cover letters online. Industries may use new keywords to assess qualifications.

The economy downturn has reached other diverse groups, too. Youth between 16 and 25 who are actively seeking work are twice as likely to be unemployed than the average worker. Workers without a high school diploma were twice as likely to be unemployed in 2011 as they were in 2007.
The greatest challenge for many of these workers, as well as all unemployed Hoosiers, is the difficult task of starting from scratch. A qualified partner at the library, a neighborhood resource, can make that process a bit easier.

Partnership in Action

Several forms of partnership drive the success of the Job Center Mobile Labs. IMCPL not only identified a critical need for their patrons, they engaged a highly qualified group to meet that need. The library interns and WorkOne staff share their own skills; interns learn to provide resume help and WorkOne employees can manage basic computer glitches. Through the Library Fund and the Glick Fund, CICF provides necessary financial support for the project.

The most powerful partnership, however, takes place between the clients of the Job Center Mobile Labs and the staff who offers the boost of knowledge, hope or skills that can propel a search into a well-paying job.

A New Place to Find Help

On a brisk winter day, three men and one younger woman sit in front of laptops at the College Avenue library branch. Their chatter and smiles rises and subsides, as they focus on the next steps in their job searches.

A man in his 50s receives guidance for tailoring his resume to fit the management positions he’s interested in instead of the labor positions he worked 20 years ago while two other men sit side-by-side, comparing notes on online applications. A young woman, barely over 20, revises her resume. Two staffers – one from WorkOne and one from the library – move around the room, offering feedback on writing, help navigating web-based applications, and affirming words when the group hits barriers large and small.

“It can be a job to get a job,” says Rene Arndt, a WorkOne staff member working with the College Avenue Branch Job Center. But with the help of WorkOne, IMCPL, the Glick Fund and The Indianapolis Foundation Library Fund, that job just got a little bit easier.

You can make a difference!

Our mission at Central Indiana Community Foundation is to inspire, support, and practice philanthropy, leadership and service in the community. We do that by: identifying community-wide issues; working with effective not-for-profits to address those needs; and serving as a philanthropic partner to individuals, family foundations and businesses who are interested in making central Indiana a better place for everyone.

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