Voices From the Lab: From Barrier to Bridge – Finding a Job in 2012

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Computer Lab at AFNIf you were asked, “What do you need to find a job in 2012?” you might respond with: experience, an education, a referral from a current employee at that company, a strong resume, or a nice outfit. Would you mention the need for a computer or needing access to the Internet? Probably not. Being digitally connected is as much a part of life today as are caramel macchiatos and iTunes. But, for many Austinites the digital divide strongly affects their ability to search for work.

As Austin Free-Net client John* states, “Those other things are helpful to me getting a job; but, they really only work once I’ve found an open position. Gotta find the job first, and then wear a nice suit to the interview, right?”

Clients at AFN know, first-hand, that in order to obtain a comprehensive list of positions available in the area, you have to be online. Yes, the local newspapers have sections in the classifieds. But, because of space restrictions and increasing costs, the “want ads” are rather limited. Online aggregate sites, such as www.indeed.com, combine job postings from fellow sites, newspapers and company job boards, offering a greater number of job opportunities to our clients.

And, did you know that most businesses today prefer to have applications filled out online; and that resumes are rarely, if ever, handed over in-person anymore? Many companies even state, “No in-person visits or telephone calls, please!” on the application form. Many also will ask for an email address with which they may use to contact the applicant.

Like other AFN clients, John received assistance setting up his free Gmail account so that he could receive messages from possible employers. He states, “It’s tough getting a face-to-face meeting nowadays. You gotta shine online then they’ll send you an email hopefully asking you to come in for an interview.”

The entire process of searching and applying for employment being online is a barrier to success for those who don’t have the access or the skills to use a computer.

Austin Free-Net offers individualized attention in free instructor-led classes as well as free access to computers and the Internet. We empower our clients with the education and tools they need to ensure that their barrier to success becomes their bridge to employment.

For more information, visit http://www.austinfree.net.

*The name of the client has been changed. Austin Free-Net respects the privacy of all clients.

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