At some point in almost everyone’s life, unless you are part of the top 1%, you will go through the process of searching for a job, writing a resume and cover letter, and going to interviews. You may be a recent graduate searching for a first job, a working professional looking for a career change, or looking to re-enter the workforce after some time away. No matter what your reasons are, the process is something that almost everyone goes through and the McAllen Public Library can help!
We have an entire page on our eBranch website devoted to job searching, researching different kinds of careers, and writing a resume and cover letter. For those who are new to the job market, one of the best resources listed is the Learning Express Job & Career Accelerator, which you must have a McAllen Public Library card to access. If you are starting from scratch and do not already have a resume, it will ask you questions about your education and work experience and will actually create a resume for you. You can even choose from among a few different professional resume templates, because in resumes the font, spacing, and margins on the page are critically important. The site will also help you explore different kinds of careers, quiz you about your strengths and recommend certain fields of work, and help prepare you for an interview. The occupation quiz was entertaining, if nothing else. Its #1 recommendation for myself was to work in actuaries, which is analyzing statistics and constructing probability tables for insurance companies. It requires a lot of math, and anyone who knows me would know that this is the worst possible match for me! However, the quiz’s second recommended occupation was much better suited towards me- archivist, which is closely related to librarian! The quiz should not be taken too seriously if you are actually job searching, but it can at least give you some ideas.
On our eBranch career page, we also list several sites for job searching and career research. The most comprehensive of these sites is the Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is not actually a handbook anymore, but is a database of very thorough career profiles that you can either browse or search according to different categories, such as pay and growth rate. Each career profile has different tabs for “Summary,” “What They Do,” “Work Environment,” “How to Become One,” “Pay,” “Job Outlook,” “Similar Occupations,” and “More Info.” Another career research site is My Next Move, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration. It offers the same quiz that is on Learning Express, but you can also browse different career profiles or search based on keyword. The career profiles on this site are more of a summary and not as detailed as those on the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
The library eBranch Careers page also lists several sites that can help you build a resume, as well as provide tips and examples for writing a resume and cover letter. Similar to the Learning Express resume tool mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Online Resume Builder will ask you questions about your education, work experience, and other qualifications, will let you choose a template, and will actually create a resume that you can download and print. If you want to create a resume from scratch, we also list other sites that provide tips and examples. The most thorough and highly recommended of these is the Online Writing Lab from Purdue University. It has different sections for resumes, cover letters, video resumes, and a job application checklist. The most important points about resumes, which are explained more thoroughly on all these sites, are that there are different kinds of resumes for different career industries, but the format that is most common is the chronological format. In this format, you list your education first and then your work experience, with the most recent degree earned and job held at the top. After those two sections, you can list other qualifications such as a second language, a special certification, experience with certain computer software, etc. The visual presentation of a resume- margins, spacing, and font- is also extremely important, because a resume has to look professional and the person reading it will probably be sorting through hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes.
In conclusion, the library eBranch page is a great place to get started with your job search! If websites are not your thing, we also have a large collection of books on writing resumes and cover letters and interviewing.