Blythewood Library Offers Free Resume, Job Search Help

Library assistant Rachel Driggers, right, discusses the intricacies of job interviews with client Jamil Knight during a Job Hunting Tips and Tricks session offered at the Blythewood Library.

Looking for a job isn’t easy these days. Even if you have a degree and many years of work experience, you might be out of sync with how to navigate today’s job market. You might not have the basic technology skills, like Microsoft Excel or even Word. You might not know what job-searching tools are available or how to make on-line job applications. You may lack confidence for interviews or the know-how to prepare today’s requisite, cutting edge resume to best show off your skill sets. You may not even know what your skill sets are.

Don’t worry. Rachel Driggers, library associate at Blythewood’s library, can help you with all of these and more. For free. Really!

It’s all part of a program called Job Hunting Tips and Tricks that the Blythewood library began offering last September. The goal of the program, according to Shirley Carter, manager of the library, is to offer the Blythewood community a convenient place right here in town to gain real, comprehensive job searching help similar to that provided by certified career coaches at the Richland Library Job Center in downtown Columbia. Driggers, while not a certified career coach, was trained at the job Center and has access to all of the Center’s resources.

The job-search sessions are held at the Blythewood Library on Fridays by appointment at either 2:30 or 3:30 p.m. Driggers meets with one client at a time, and repeat appointments are available.

“When someone calls for an appointment,” Driggers explained, “I set up a one-hour session and give the client a list of things to bring in, including a resume (if they have one), a general description of desired work , the client’s education, skills and references with phone numbers — things like that.”

When the client arrives, Driggers first spends a good deal of time in conversation, finding out about her client.

“Just chatting can unearth skills, character traits and interests that are important to the client’s job search,” Driggers said. “Building a resume is an interactive process where I try to bring to light elements of the client’s stories that they haven’t felt were related to their resume.”

Then Driggers sets to work making sure the basics are in place for seeking employment.

“We sit down at a table at the library with a laptop and, if clients don’t already have a library card, a copy of his or her Social Security card, an email account, etc., I guide them through the process to acquire these,” Driggers said. “If they are not proficient with computer programs like Microsoft Word and Excel, I teach them the basics and get them started. Not only will they need these skills for their job search, but they’ll need them in most jobs.”

Driggers guides her clients through preparation of the cover letter/resume/reference sheet, a thorough job search through multiple avenues, filling out a job application, preparing for the interview, completing employment paperwork and discussing job-keeping skills. Driggers also explains to her clients how additional education might be needed for their chosen job or career field.

Driggers provides a myriad of resources from helpful books like Richard Bolles’ “What Color is Your Parachute?” to professional networking sites like Linkedin.com.

“I’m always looking for new resources to help our clients not only find jobs and get hired, but to keep those jobs once they’re hired,” Driggers said.

Even with an Associate degree in business, a 4.0 GPA and substantial work experience, Jamil Knight, one of Driggers’ recent clients, found it difficult to merge back into her career field on her own after dropping out for a different job five years ago.

According to Knight, Driggers doesn’t just send the client home with a good book about getting a job and a good luck pat on the back.

“She guided me through the job search process and stayed with me until I was prepared and confident,” Knight said. “If I had questions, I called her. I had someone helping me through it all. Rachel was patient, extremely knowledgeable and, well, very helpful. Not only did she help me find the key points of my skill sets, she showed me how to maximize those skill sets to my advantage when applying for jobs. She always reminded me to stay focused.”

One of the most helpful aspects of her job search session, Knight added, was the preparation for job interviews. “Rachel gave me a list of both traditional questions and behavioral questions that I might be asked,” Knight said. She said that if I would prepare myself to answer those questions that I would be more comfortable and confident during the interview process.”

Indeed, Knight said the questions in the actual job interviews were almost identical to those she was given by Driggers. “It was such a relief to be prepared!” Knight said, smiling broadly. “I was relaxed and confident . . . and I knew the answers.”

While Knight hasn’t yet landed the fulltime job of her dreams, with Driggers’ help she found work through a temporary agency. Knight said that was a big step in her job hunting journey.

“The goal for each client is different,” Driggers said. “But, in the end, we want each one to realize success, whether they can do that in one session or need several. In cases where an individual has a more complex need, I may refer that client to the Job Center downtown.”

While Driggers holds two Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s degree, she said she knows from her own experience how difficult it is to find employment — at all. And finding the ‘right’ job, she said, is even more difficult.

“I feel extremely fortunate to have the position I have here at the library, and I want to help my clients find the jobs their looking for,” Driggers said. “My goal is to save them worry and help them get back to work as soon as possible.”

To make an appointment for job searching help, call the Blythewood library at 691-9806 and ask for Rachel Driggers.