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Getting Started in the Skilled Trades

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While the rest of the economy stagnates, hiring trends among HVAC, carpentry, plumbing, automotive and electrical technicians have rarely been stronger than they are right now.  So if you’re looking for work in these fields, what steps should you be taking to find the job you need? And if you’re considering stepping into a skilled trade for the first time, where should you start?

First Things First

If you’re ready to leave your old field behind or if you’re a young person choosing a direction for your future career, a skilled trade may be right for you. But before you can get the attention of employers, you’ll need to have obtained a license and completed a period of on-the-job training, usually as an apprentice or assistant to a master tradesman. And before you can get a company or master tradesman to sponsor your training, you’ll need to start working toward your certification. 

To find a certification program that’s right for you, start by contacting trade guilds or technical schools in your area. Choose a school with an appropriate program, and make sure your institution is credentialed and has a strong reputation. After you complete your one, two, or three year series of courses and become certified, reach out to local unions and trade groups to learn more about apprenticeship opportunities in your area of specialty.

Applying for Work

For the most part, the job search process for a skilled trade will rely on the same steps as a job search in any other field. Most employers will require a resume and a cover letter, and hiring managers typically like to see a strong match between a candidate’s professional experience and the specific demands of the job in question.

Begin your resume with a three sentence summary of your most important skill areas and accomplishments, and follow the summary with separate subheadings for “education”, “work history” and “additional skills.” Your education section should clearly list your certifications, your license and bonding status, and your training institutions. Your work history section should name your previous employers and provide a clear list of your most important projects and proudest accomplishments. The “additional skills” section of your resume should include the languages you speak, the software programs you’re familiar with, any business training you’ve had (accounting, marketing, business management, etc) and any additional training you’ve obtained (like first aid and safety training, for example). 

For more specific guidance on applying for work and handling interviews, reach out to the Little Rock staffing experts at CSS. Contact our office and let us connect you to the skilled trade employers you’re looking for.

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