In April, two months after the coronavirus pandemic imposed an economic shutdown, the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent ― a level not seen since the Great Depression. As of mid-June, more than 40 million workers had been laid off or furloughed, and the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits provided to Americans as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package is set to expire July 31.

As a result of the economic recession, hiring has slowed considerably. Job seekers (including recent college graduates) will face a competitive market in the months (and possibly years) to come. Experts are sharing a variety of tips, but libraries are historically well-positioned to help unemployed patrons get back on their feet.

Libraries looking to augment their collections and career services to better address the needs of post-pandemic job seekers should consider the following five activities:

1. Exploring New Career Options and Entrepreneurship

Given the economic turmoil created by COVID-19, some unemployed patrons may be experiencing a range of emotions or reassessing their careers, especially if they had been working in industries that may not fully recover from the pandemic. While some firms, non-profit organizations and government agencies have scaled back on hiring, others are looking for new employees. Using LearningExpress’s Job & Career Accelerator, patrons can research growth industries, take skills and interests assessments to find ideal career paths, and explore more than 1,000 occupations ― including civilian jobs for those transitioning out of the military. They can also conduct real-time searches in a database of more than five million job postings.

Patrons may also want to explore the possibility of starting a small business, one that fills a need created by the “new normal.” EBSCO’s Entrepreneurial Mindset Training Course enables prospective entrepreneurs to learn the underlying beliefs and behaviors that empower ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. The eight-module, self-paced course can help them develop the mindset they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing world ― whether that means starting a business, pursuing a new career or becoming a better employee.

2. Boosting Job Skills

It’s never too late to develop new knowledge and skills. In doing so, individuals can make themselves stand out in the vast sea of job candidates. Encourage job seekers to use this time to brush up on their computer, internet and social media skills. LearningExpress Computer Skills Center offers dozens of video courses for those interested in learning popular software applications, such as Microsoft Excel and Adobe Photoshop.

Meanwhile, LearningExpress Library offers tutorials and practice sets to help job seekers build their math, writing and grammar skills. They’ll also find tutorials, e-books and practice tests to help them prepare for the GED® test, college admissions exams, or occupational certification tests.

3. Creating a Stand-Out Resume and Cover Letter

To secure an interview, job seekers must create a resume and cover letter that will stand out among the competition. Not only should candidates be sure to format these documents properly, but they should also use dynamic and engaging keywords relevant to the position they’re seeking. LearningExpress Job & Career Accelerator’s step-by-step resume and cover letter builders help job seekers create and publish the most effective resumes and cover letters possible. As they build these documents, users will find expert advice, easy-to-follow instructions, recommended keywords, and helpful samples to guide them through each step of the process.

4. Getting Comfortable with Virtual Job Interviews

Many employers have adopted virtual interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Forbes Contributor Joseph Liu, “That means you have to be able to bring the same level of enthusiasm, professionalism, and communication that you would to an in-person interview.” Remind job seekers to test out their videoconferencing software in advance of the scheduled interview. In addition, LearningExpress Job & Career Accelerator offers an “Interview with Confidence” tutorial which walks job seekers through the stages of the interview process and provides strategies to help them prepare.

5. Networking

According to 2018 research, the average job search takes about five months. Assuming it could take longer during a pandemic, job seekers will need to expand their professional networks. LearningExpress’s Job & Career Accelerator offers a number of e-books with networking advice, “Networking and Informational Sample Letters,” “Social Networking for Business Success” and “Social Networking for Career Success.” In addition, users will find a helpful tutorial called, “Social Networking with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.”

Learn more about LearningExpress Job & Career Accelerator