Looking for work is not a game. But an Internet platform launched in Yolo County's libraries and modeled after social gaming is teaching job seekers the skills needed to land their next job.
It's called JobScout. In it, users become "scouts" who pick up Internet skills to look for work, from finding job sites to writing résumés, and submitting online applications to creating social network profiles.
It's a game with a serious goal: to help California job seekers become more digitally literate and job-ready. JobScout estimates 20 percent of California job seekers lack the needed Internet skills to find work.
"There are tools out there," said Christina Gagnier, founder and chief executive officer of the Bay Area's JobScout. But without the proper digital training, "you can't take them out of the toolbox."
JobScout, partnered with the California State Library, launched late last year in urban Los Angeles County, high-tech San Jose, collegiate Santa Cruz and in Yolo County, where its high unemployment and rural setting made it a fertile testing ground.
"People love gaming online," Gagnier said. With JobScout, she said, "they take lessons to learn content. They can choose avatars and build résumés that they can send to employers."
JobScout's goal and game-oriented approach were a hit with Elizabeth Gray, assistant Yolo County librarian.
That makes sense for several reasons.
Yolo County's jobless rate is 10.8 percent, and Gray sees patrons who struggle with the technology they need to start their search.
And libraries, with their free computer access, employment materials and workshops, are magnets for job seekers.
"We thought this was an important service to the public. Having a population that works is very important to this county," Gray said. "We have a lot of patrons, but some might not know how to use the Internet. With JobScout, we can fill a gap here."
Today, the online tool is in more than 180 public libraries in California, Gagnier said, and anyone can get it at www.myjobscout.org.
"Public libraries are free," Gagnier said. "You can get access, explore new skills and do it in a fun way."
Free career fair
Job seekers can meet more than 20 private- and public-sector employers at Job Journal's June HIREvent on Tuesday in Sacramento.
The free career fair is noon to 4 p.m. at Crowne Plaza Sacramento, 5321 Date Ave., near Madison Avenue and Interstate 80.
The California Public Employees' Retirement System, SAFE Credit Union, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Thunder Valley Casino Resort are among the 21 employers slated to attend.
At the event, job seekers can pick up leads on a number of positions from sales and account representatives, to human resource and information technology positions, to administrative positions.
Professional résumé evaluators will also be on hand, as well as representatives from small-business advisers the Entrepreneur's Source providing advice to job seekers exploring self-employment.
State Job Workshops will also be on hand to talk about employment opportunities at the State of California.
For more information, visit http://jobjournal.com.
Ask the job expert
Do you have career or job-hunting questions? Ask Terri Carpenter, one of our "Ask the Experts" writers who can answer your questions online.
As a veteran career counselor at the Sacramento Employment Training Agency, she has plenty of expertise in résumé writing, job skills training and career counseling.
To post your question or see her advice, go to www.sacbee.com/ask.