Almost every city and town in the United States has a career development center within its limits. Most commonly, these offices are part of your town’s local Department of Labor or unemployment office. Some community colleges, trade schools and universities also have career development centers that community members may utilize, but some may be for alumni only so it’s best to call ahead before visiting.
Services Offered at Career Development Centers
Every career development center will operate slightly different from others in different locations, but a few services are commonly found amongst all offices. Those found inside of Department of Labor offices typically provide the most varied selection of opportunities for job seekers. Before making an appointment with your local office, it is a good idea to call ahead, or go online, to find out what services may be offered and what documentation you will need to bring when you visit.
- Job Search Databases- Local businesses often turn to their local career development center before posting job openings online or in the newspaper. The reason is simple; these offices are a public service and rarely charge the hiring company a fee for listing and promoting the openings. Many centers also prescreen applicants, meaning the hiring manager only interviews people that have met the listed requirements. For a job seeker, the benefit is in the sheer number of local job listings to browse.
- Job Search Skills- Most career development centers offer free classes to help job seekers build a resume improve interview skills and develop a career map for future planning. Some also offer classes on budgeting, financial planning and college preparation courses.
- Job Training- The Workforce Investment Act provides grant money for adults that need training to become marketable in the local job market or for those who are unemployed and looking to change industries. The Department of Labor often manages this program, which provides complete funding for a wide variety of occupations ranging from welding to nursing. The programs covered by the Workforce Investment Act will vary based on your communities needs at the time you apply. For example, if your community is experiencing a nursing shortage, the program will cover nursing programs.
- Internships and Paid on the Job Training- Many communities have developed programs that allow local companies to “try out” a potential employee. With these programs, the Department of Labor or career development center pays a small wage, usually equal to the minimum wage, to the employee for an established period of time. During this time, the company provides on the job training and has the option to hire the employee at the end of the training program for no cost or finder’s fee. If the company chooses not to employ the trainee, the trainee gains valuable on the job experience to support their job search efforts.
Be sure to supplement the tools that they offer with networking. Talk to everyone you meet at the center, including both staff and the other job seekers. You never know when someone knows of an opening for your qualifications and background.
Good luck with your job search!