Looking For a Job? Start Here

Job hunting. Ugh. There are many different reasons for starting a job search. People look for a job
when they are: first entering the work force; re-entering the work force after caring for children or elderly parents; relocating; looking for more responsibility or other challenge; seeking higher pay, better benefits, shorter commute, or more convenient hours; switching a career field; resuming work after being laid off or fired; or starting part-time work after retirement.

No matter what the reason is for starting a job hunt, there are several components to conducting a search, such as: writing a résumé, networking, brushing up on technology or other skills, doing volunteer work to hone skills or plug gaps in experience, and job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships.

The All-Important Résumé

It makes sense to begin the process by building a résumé. You may be tops in your field, but that does not mean that résumé writing is one of your skills. Get help! Start with a book on basic résumé writing, such as: Before and After Resumes: How to Turn a Good Resume into a Great One by Tracy Burns-Martin; The Perfect Resume: Resumes that Work in the New Economy by Dan Quillen; or Knock 'Em Dead Résumés by Martin John Yate. Other titles focus on subsets of jobseekers, such as military veterans (e.g. Operation Job Search: A Guide for Military Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Careers by John Henry Weiss); special circumstances, such as a first stab at a résumé after graduation  (e.g. Best Resumes for College Students and New Grads by Louise Kursmark and Creating Your First Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide to Write Your First Competitive Resume by Kathryn Troutman); or career fields (e.g. Expert Resumes for Health Care Careers by Wendy S. Enelow).

Mercer County Library System has many tools to help you create an effective résumé. Some librarians offer one-on-one help, by appointment, in reviewing and rewriting your résumé. Visit our programs calendar and look for résumé review at Ewing, Hickory Corner, Hopewell, and West Windsor. Once you find a time slot that works for you, call the branch to make an appointment. Remember that you are not restricted to your home branch; patrons may take advantage of services, programs, and resources at all branches in the system.

One-on-one assistance is not the only way to get help. Adult programs are useful in imparting information to job seekers in a group setting. Why not take advantage of both types of resources? Attend a Résumé Writing and Job Search seminar at West Windsor, or Create a Red-Hot Resume with Paul Martinetti at Ewing. Go to our programs calendar to see a list of scheduled programs. Be sure to check back frequently, as programs are continually added.

Beyond the Résumé

A robust job search comprises many components, including networking, writing cover letters, building a list of references, developing additional skills, and setting career goals. Guidance in these areas is available through several databases on the MCLS website. Scroll down to Careers & Job Hunting. You will see a list of resources that can be quite helpful in planning your job search strategy.

Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center contains a directory of available apprenticeships that is
searchable by career field and location. You will also find tips for writing a cover letter and preparing for a job interview.

Job & Career Accelerator offers sections such as Explore Occupations, and Search for Jobs & Internships. Gain access to more than 5 million job postings through all major job boards.

Learning Express Library has a jam-packed catalogue of career exams (such as pharmacy technician certification and real estate broker exam). The Explore Careers section highlights a multitude of careers, listing job descriptions, requirements, and salary ranges.

Mercer County One-Stop Career Center enables access to training and career advice, as well as help with more immediate needs, such as applying for unemployment benefits. There is also invaluable information on networking, social media, references, and completing online job applications.

Library patrons have free access to these and other resources in the library as well as from a home computer. For some of the databases, you will be asked to create a profile or log in with your library barcode. To get help establishing a profile, drop into one of the MCLS branches and get help from a librarian.

Computer Skills

The job market is extremely competitive. Savvy job seekers tip the scales in their favor by strategically building up their technology skills. Give yourself this advantage by taking computer classes offered at the branches of MCLS. Choose from basic courses, such as keyboarding basics or Word 1, to more advanced courses, such as Excel 3 or Internet 3. Learn a new program—such as Microsoft Office Publisher—or increase your knowledge by taking a higher level of Word or Excel, for example. Master these skills to help fill a technology gap and pump up the Computer Skills section of your résumé.  Your extra effort may put you a step ahead of the other candidates.

On Your Way

The process of looking for a job can be quite daunting. If you do not currently have a job, you have financial pressure as well as the pressure to take a part-time or temporary job while you are looking for “the right fit.” If you have a job and are looking for a different job, it is hard to find the time required for a thorough search. Let the numerous library resources help you. We are not just books!

Best of luck to you in your search.

- Mary Astarita, West Windsor Branch


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