New home construction is way down and it’s hard to make money with wages being depressed by slap down crews who work cheap without benefits. I’m not knocking them; the workers are hard working, but is there a better way? Maybe even you are on one of these crews. So how do you get ahead?
One suggestion I can make is to work from the other end, in building supply. Especially since if wages are depressed, contractors using cheaper labor have more money for more building supplies. And these jobs can be very good.
When I started at 84 lumber, customers thought I made minimum wage. I made $29,600 my first year in 1987. I had medical too and though the work was hard, it was secure. So how do you go about this transformation to behind the counter instead of in front of it?
First, when you go to apply, have a professional resume. It’s surprising how many people think that because you’re applying for a job not on Wall Street, all you need is your body when you walk in the front door. A good professional resume; however, is a great idea for any job.
If you have construction experience, put all of it on the resume. A counter job is an advice giving profession. If you have no construction experience, emphasize management skill. 84 Lumber; for instance; has courses that you take on your own time to teach you the aspects of the job dealing with blueprint reading and how a house is built.
Now when you go to apply, make sure you are dressed as you would for an interview at a bank. If you are a guy, get a businessman’s haircut; a gal, have your hair pulled back and out of your face. This is a lumberyard, but you deal with the public and a suit, or nice slacks and a blouse, when you apply says you’re respectful.
If you have piercings, lose them. Individuality is for high school, college and the unemployment line. Bill Gates could be a young hippie because he is a genius. John Lennon and Paul McCartney invented a new kind of music. You, like me are a mortal.
In line with this, make sure your hands are not just clean, but groomed. Rough hands show you work, but broken fingernails show an employer that you’re not what they want. In line with this too, make sure your shoes are high quality shoes. A nice suit and cheap, broken shoes are bad in an interview.
So you know, you will be required in the process to take a math test as math is needed in this job. If you are rotten in math, there are free websites to learn these skills while you stay at a current job.
When I was a child, I remember seeing My Dad study English for his sales job. He did this, at home, in a room about the size of a closet. His boss couldn’t understand his reports. Dad thought early in life that math and science were good and English was stupid because he spoke it. Eventually he liked English so well that he wrote 6 novels, all unpublished, but I give him lots of credit.
In your interview be honest and warm. There’s no real advice other than that which can be given for an interview because an interview’s like boot camp, no advice prepares you for those garbage cans banging at 4 am the first day.
Next week, for after you’re hired, career advancement.
Jeffrey Ruzicka is a retired executive of a small company that specializes in industrial water treatment. He lives happily with his wife in Western Pennsylvania and is a contributing writer to FinancialJobBank,FinancialJobBankBlog, ConstructionJobForce, ConstructionJobForceBlog and Beyond.com.