Looking for a job can often be a full-time job in itself, and because now the process has become virtual, the Los Angeles County Library has gathered tools geared toward communities at the heart of the digital divide. 

What You Need To Know

  • LA County Library's Work Ready Program is lending out laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to bridge the digital divide

  • The equipment can be used to access virtual workshops teaching a variety of job readiness skills

  • It started in December and has the funding to continue through at least the end of 2021

  • For more information, visit lacountylibrary.org/workready

"We chose 20 locations in the county of LA where there's the least amount of internet penetration, so where people need specifically connection to the web," said Oleg Kagan, LA County Library community engagement coordinator.

He said as people start to recover from a pandemic that led to record-setting job losses, the county's Work Ready program will prepare residents for the current job market.

It is lending Chromebook laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to help residents access vital job resources.

"People are now working from home so much more and need to be able to interview from home, need to be comfortable in a teleworking environment," Kagan said.

Participants can check them out for a six-week session and take a variety of free weekly virtual workshops featuring everything from how to answer common interview questions to question and answer sessions with a career coach. 

The events are live and then posted on the LA County Library's YouTube channel. 

John Alvarez, who is one of the participants, used to work as a software engineer.

"The techniques and the things that I knew how to do were really from the 70s and 80s, so I thought it would be a good time and a good opportunity to get into a program to see how things are being done now," he said.

Alvarez said he is not currently looking for a job but has always been interested in finding ways to make himself more marketable and raves about the program.

"A lot of times today, a resume or a cover letter doesn't even get to a human. It gets reviewed by some kind of processor, and they're picking out keywords," Alvarez said. "You need to know what areas are hot. You need to know the buzzwords." 

Kagan said all ages participate, from students who have never written a cover letter or resume to older adults who are changing careers after being laid off or working in the same job for decades.

"People who have been working for 40 years who now need to find a job and aren't sure how to summarize their 40 years of experience in one resume," Kagan said.

While some businesses are opening back up, the workforce is still very much a virtual one. Kagan said learning how to embrace today's technology can be scary, especially for older adults, but COVID-19 has forced many to face their fears to stay connected.

"Being a job seeker is so difficult, and it can be alienating, and I think the people that come to these programs every week feel a sense of community, feel enheartened," Kagan said.

Knowing the right resources can make all the difference.