The Vancouver Public Library resembles a good financial investor in its ability to investigate, analyze and react.
To that end, the days of book stacks and microfiches only are being replaced with resources for job seekers in the form of highly-detailed methods of honing in on specific sectors and industries.
While the standardized resume-building workshops and basic job search courses remain, the library now works alongside government and industry to help all demographics find work, re-enter the workforce or even acquaint themselves with Canadian workplace norms.
Sophie Middleton is the VPL’s acting manager of information services and helps to oversee what’s currently on offer, and what’s coming down the pike through the library’s Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre.
“There is a huge wealth of information that we have that people aren’t aware of that goes beyond a resumé,” Middleton said. “It’s for anyone who’s looking for jobs. These people want to know how to find unadvertised jobs, or the hidden job market, they want to look at new career options or learn more about all of our resources.”
The library’s employment guides are like pathfinders to finding jobs. More than 120 guides are offered for free online and in print. They cover sectors spanning engineering, computers, film and TV and a myriad of other options in varying levels of detail. And if a particular career path isn’t available, library staff can meet with patrons for one-on-one sessions to suss out those details.
“Most industries are covered on some level, and they get quite granular in some cases to cover very specific topic,” Middleton said. “They’re a great place to start to find out salaries, labour market information, synonyms for the job to help with searching and websites and associations representing those industries.
Around 30 career guides serve as almost companion pieces to the employment guides, and cover off on topics such as transferable skills, mentorship programs, workplace culture, recruitment agencies, apprenticeships.
Tips and workshops are even offered to help people refine their networking skills.
“There are conventions in Canadian work culture people may not be aware of,” Middleton said. “We as Canadians love to talk about the weather, so it’s about moving from that to being able to talk about industry-related questions or find out more about industry associations in a low-stress and supportive environment.”
Those accessing the library’s job services come from all walks of life: old, young, men and women and recent immigrants. Some are just entering the workforce, others are opting to re-train for a different career path and others still want to know about entrepreneurship and going into business for themselves.
Nailing down emerging workforce trends isn’t as easy as identifying who’s accessing the library’s services, according to Middleton. Instead, as the economy goes, so goes those workplace patterns. As of late February, work in film and TV and “green jobs” were percolating with the public.
“We’re getting a little bit of everybody, but the vast majority are your regular Vancouverites coming in, looking for a bit of help with their job search process and to get a broads sense of what the resources available at the library are,” Middleton said.
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