Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Top 5 Ways to Use Your Public Library as a Career Exploration Tool

I feel like an expert on this topic, raised by a librarian and living as I do in the newly annointed book reading capital of America: Seattle, at least according to this New York Times article. I use my library card a lot and enjoy Seattle Public Library's (SPL) new, Koolhaas-designed downtown Central branch pictured at left.

My top 5 suggestions (no particular order) for using your public library as an online career exploration tool:
  1. Take advantage of online career information databases and resources made free to you with a library card. Most states have a career information system, but make sure their career test is scientifically valid before taking it. The O*Net Interest Profiler, offered by many services, is NOT valid.
  2. Find job hunting prospects in specialized databases about regional industries, like high-tech, medical providers, and nonprofits.
  3. Choose books on careers that interest you and have them delivered to your local branch for pickup. Don't forget biographies of people in your prospective career path - "self help" books can get repetitive after awhile. For careers organized by Holland personality type, I recommend Laurence Shatkin's and J. Michael Farr's 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality.
  4. Listen to podcasts by people in careers that interest you. For example, I found a podcast (listen here) about a cartoonist's career path billed as, "Comixtravaganza: 'Getting Into Comics' panel: In this Q & A panel, held January 26 at the Central Library, local lights of the comics world discuss what they love about comics, their experiences in the comics industry, and more." Google it for more options.
  5. Check out digital or print books about skills needed in careers of interest. An example for information technology geek wannabes, in addition to books on the "shelves," SPL offers the Safari Books Database described as "Access digital books on computing, databases, programming, Web design and more. The collection includes over 1,000 titles for the three most current years from publishers such as O'Reilly, Addison Wesley, Que and Sam's Publishing."
Do you have other suggestions for using your library to explore careers?

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