THE BLOG
01/18/2013 10:33 am ET Updated Mar 20, 2013

Creating a Job Search Literacy Community Roundtable for MLK Jr. Day

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

This week, Martin Luther King Jr. Day reminds us to make an impact during our time off from work. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is actually meant to be a Day of Service, which many people forget in their fervor for a day off work.

But with this prospect in mind, lets take a moment to mull over MLK Jr.'s proposition: What are you doing for others?

My proposition

If you don't have an immediate answer to this question, especially for your plans on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I have the perfect solution. To honor and participate in MLK Jr. Day of Service, lets create job search literacy roundtables driven by our community members to impact unemployment in our respective homes.

Depending on your locale, these roundtables could impact low income areas or districts hardest hit by unemployment. As of November's unemployment numbers, Nevada, Rhode Island, and California have the highest unemployment rate by state. But you know better than anyone the state of unemployment in your area. So what will it be? Consider giving back to your community and impacting your community this month.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the King Center partner to lead the MLK Jr. Day of Service with many other nonprofits and organizations across the country. The CNCS has proposed a series of toolkits to jump start projects in your community. Suggestions for projects include things like financial literacy roundtables, fitness events, or book drives.

While all great suggestions, getting our workforce back on its feet should also be on our radar in support of the MLK Jr. Day of Service.

Setting up a job search literacy roundtable

A job search literacy roundtable, like any community-driven event, is meant to be customized to your community's specific needs. For example, perhaps your community hasn't been great about offering local career fairs. So in lieu of this hole, how can job seekers best connect with local job openings and companies? Can you provide free workshops to help them realize what tools are available to pinpoint these local job openings? Or perhaps your area has low literacy rates, so holding resume and cover letter writing workshops would be beneficial for these job seekers. Maybe you'd like to have a variety of topics on the agenda and have an open forum for citizens to ask questions on job search best practices and tips. It's really up to you and your community's unemployment needs.

But let's take it step by step to develop your own roundtable.

Step 1: Assess your knowledge and expertise on the topic. Are you particularly savvy on networking or do you have great advice and tips to share about using social media in your job search? Great. Now think outside what you know to know your community needs assistance with in particular. Jot down your ideas on what could be discussed or offered during the roundtable.

Step 2: Do some recon in your community. Talk to neighbors, colleagues, friends, and associations about their knowledge on the job search, who is in need and what knowledge is needed, and who can add to the conversation. Perhaps your local library can loan a few job search books or your community college has some career services professionals that would like to get involved. Feel out all of your resources here to see which of your ideas make more sense or if new ideas crop up.

Step 3: Get people involved. You ideally would like a group of "experts" on any given topic (i.e., networking, the social job search, resume and cover letter writing, local job search strategies, etc.). You'll also want some volunteers to help you promote your roundtable, find a venue, and run the day-of events. Also, don't forget to utilize your cities government and influential networks. Take your city mayor, prominent business owners, and other groups or organizations in your community, for example. Many might want to be involved in the actual event or even offer to promote it in their business for free. Who knows!

Step 5: Publicize and promote. The CNCS provides a few templates for press releases and other ways to promote your roundtable, such as social media. The main idea here is that your event is free to the community and is meant to be an open discussion with free tools and resources to get the unemployed back on their feet.

If you're serious about getting a job search literacy roundtable off the ground, take a look at more action steps and project development tools on the CNCS website. Regardless of what you decide, try getting involved this year for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Would your community benefit from a job search literacy roundtable? If not, what resources are missing from your community's career service offerings?

Sudy Bharadwaj is a co-founder and the CEO of Jackalope Jobs, a platform that helps job seekers find a job via their social networks. Learn how Sudy and Jackalope Jobs obsess over job seekers by connecting with them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Subscribe to Must Reads.
The internet's best stories, and interviews with their authors.