In two separate instances, I have overheard librarians have a discussion on either putting limits on helping people with job searching or flat out refusing to help people other than with a cursory, "here's the computer" or "here are the resume books". Once again, I am floored at these librarians' attitude.The library is the best and often the only resource for people and I feel like many times we are cutting them off at the pass while they are at their most vulnerable. In my career in library service, I would bet, conservatively, I have helped someone with job searching nearly every day so I am going to speak on this subject with some bit of authority.
Most job seekers are looking for an objective opinion.
They are not generally looking for the keys to the universe. Of course in all reference transactions, there are the crazy time suckers. Certainly this category is not immune, but generally these are folks who are trying to get perspective or some fresh eyes or ideas on their particular situation. One teen told me it feels weird to look at yourself from an outsider's position and create some kind of resume.
Job seekers are often "stuck" or don't know where to start.
Consider women who have been out of the job market for a while or a person changing careers. They might not know the first steps of getting a job. Often the librarian can be the coach and offer suggestions, websites, books, etc for those just starting the process. Skill assessment too can be a part of this discussion. Guiding job seekers to technology and skill upgrades can be life changing. In my own career, I had babies during the transition from DOS to Windows. It was such a shock and I felt like I was behind by decades.
Job seekers can become quickly demoralized.
This is apparent during any economic crisis. Lack of jobs or the idea of 500 applicants to every position is overwhelming and depressing. Keeping a positive attitude and providing support to patrons is also our job. By simply acknowledging the difficulty to your patrons might be enough for that person to realize they are not alone.
So the take away from my little speech is that everyone has something to offer the job seeker. To limit yourself by policy or in practice, you are making yourself less valuable to your public. That attitude translates into less support for libraries. Oh and by the way, if what you just read sounds like it applies in other areas of reference service you are most correct. Remember, we are there to serve the customer to the best of our ability and resources.
Holly also has written about offering resume advice. Read it here.
Michigan People: MEL has a TON of stuff for the job seeker, career changer and entrepreneur. Don't forget this valuable service.