The current state of the U.S. workforce is marked by a significant worker shortage. Despite there being 8.9 million open jobs, only 6.5 million unemployed workers are available to fill them. This gap between job openings and available workers persists across various industries and states. Pandemic-induced early retirements, childcare constraints, and financial support during the crisis have left the nation with a deficit of workers. In addition, the pandemic has accelerated automation, requiring many workers to adapt. More displaced workers will need different skills to remain employed.

Public libraries can play a crucial role in supporting workforce development by offering free job and career services. These include upskilling programs, résumé development, computer access, interview preparation, workshops and seminars. Libraries looking to augment their collections to address the needs of today’s job seekers and career changers should consider the following five activities:

1. Exploring New Career Options and Entrepreneurship

The economic turmoil created by COVID-19 led some workers to reassess their careers. Using resources such as 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.

Some patrons might consider pursuing a skilled trade given today’s skilled trade workforce shortage. BlueCareer is a workforce development platform that serves as a one-stop show for patrons to explore skilled trade industries, start their careers, connect with employers and more. Users can take personality and experience assessments to see which trade profession might be a good fit. They can also access up-to-date pay and career growth data and explore trade schools.

Other patrons might wish to explore the possibility of starting a small business, one that fills a need created by our post-pandemic world. 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 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. LearningExpress Library Complete also offers Amazon Web Services (AWS) training courses in a wide array of leading-edge technology topics. LearningExpress Library Complete also 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 and occupational certification tests. They’ll even find a keyboarding tutorial to help them brush up on their typing skills. For those interested in pursuing a skilled trade, BlueCareer offers a variety of video and virtual training opportunities.

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. 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

The pandemic has led many employers to conduct initial interviews virtually. According to Forbes Contributor Joseph Liu, “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, 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. In some industries, it could take longer, so job seekers need to expand their professional networks. 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.”

Ready to enhance your library’s services to job seekers?