Sno-Isle Libraries joins King County partnership to expand job-search help

Sno-Isle Libraries is joining a partnership with The Seattle Public Library and the King County Library System to bring what it describes as “personalized, compassionate job-search assistance to Sno-Isle Libraries customers.”

The service, Your Next Job, is open to all job seekers who live in any of the three library districts and it does not require a library card to use. It offers free, one-on-one help with job searching and unemployment information using online meetings, email, text messages or phone calls.

The Seattle Public Library launched Your Next Job in July 2020 with the King County Library System (KCLS) and Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) as a community resource to help workers who lost hours or a job as coronavirus restrictions forced many businesses to cut staff hours or eliminate positions. Your Next Job is intentionally designed for workers with barriers to employment, such as lack of digital proficiency, limited English language or work skills, and those with a disability.

Sno-Isle Libraries joins the partnership Dec. 7.

“We’re really excited to join this regional partnership in support of job seekers and promoting information literacy skills,” said Sno-Isle Libraries Adult Services Coordinator Emily Felt. “It’s a great service.”

“With the addition of Sno-Isle to this unique partnership, Your Next Job is able to reach even more people who face barriers to finding employment,” said Marion Scichilone, assistant managing librarian at The Seattle Public Library, who helped design the service. “We are thrilled to work with fellow library systems and partners like Seattle Jobs Initiative to respond to the devastating loss of jobs in our community as a result of COVID-19.”

“The crisis in jobs and employment caused by the pandemic impacts all of our communities, regardless of which library system serves them,” said Audrey Barbakoff, community engagement and economic development manager with the King County Library System. “That’s why KCLS, SPL and now Sno-Isle Libraries have come together in an innovative partnership to support job seekers throughout our region with Your Next Job.”

The Seattle Public Library’s website serves as the entry portal for Your Next Job. Job seekers can access the service at webpages in English (spl.org/YourNextJob), Spanish (spl.org/SuProximoTrabajo) and simplified Chinese (spl.org/YourNextJob-zh). Job seekers can also access Your Next Job by calling 206-386-4636 or emailing jobhelp@spl.org. All Your Next Job services are available for speakers of Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

Applicants submit their contact information, describe the help they need, choose their available days and times, and pick their preferred method of contact. Your Next Job services are available Monday through Saturday.

The core of the service is a one-on-one appointment with a librarian, by phone or online. After assessing a participant’s needs, a librarian can offer help with basic technology skills, a new unemployment claim, suggesting new work skills, reviewing resume resources, applying for a new job, finding interview coaching resources, and referrals to community and social service organizations.

Librarians can also suggest a variety of free online classes and self-study resources. All three library systems offer online proctoring and certification in Microsoft and Abobe software programs. Sno-Isle Libraries also offers online proctoring and certification for Quickbooks.

“Your Next Job services are designed to help customers navigate the wealth of information available to them,” Felt said.

However, your Next Job can’t help customers with existing unemployment claims. The Washington Department of Labor and Industries manages all claims once they are filed.

In follow-up surveys by The Seattle Public Library, job seekers described the support they received as attentive, helpful, tailored to their needs and compassionate, Scichilone said.

Three Sno-Isle Libraries librarians with job-search expertise will help with Your Next Job, Felt said.

“We’re looking forward to helping our communities find information and community organizations that can assist Your Next Job participants in finding their next job and reaching their career goals,” Felt said.

While each session is limited to 30 minutes, librarians know that many customers will need more than one appointment to get adequate attention. It’s a relationship that takes time to build, she said, “especially in the vulnerable space of the job search.”

“We’re really looking forward to working closely with our neighbors in Seattle and King County to support the economic viability of our region as a whole,” Felt said.

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