You Want a Job in the Construction Industry: What’s Next?

Words: Deanna Quintana 
Photos: kali9 

If you enjoy working with your hands and the satisfaction of leaving a legacy behind, then starting a career in construction is the next step for you. You’ve been to school, or received the appropriate training, and you wonder – what comes next? 

  1. Write a resume 
  2. Apply for a position as a skilled craftsperson 
  3. Interview 

It’s as easy as one, two, three. One of the most important aspect of the job hunt is to ensure your training and passion stand out through your resume and the interview. Learn, apply the knowledge, and join the construction industry today!  

Organize Your Resume 

The best way for an employer to glean useful and relevant information about you is through your resume. When applying for an apprenticeship, entry-level or management-level position, a perfectly crafted construction resume will give you the necessary competitive edge. 

Contact Information 

Before a potential employer can welcome a new craft professional to the team, your resume will need detailed contact information. This is not an exhaustive list of every residence you’ve ever lived in, but instead a direct way for a company to get in contact with you if needed. Start with the basics and then assess, based on the job description, if additional information is needed.  

Necessary 

  • Name: First name, Last name (middle is optional) 
  • Phone: Personal cell phone or preferred contact number  
  • Email address: Email is the most common way to get in touch with applicants 

Optional 

  • Street Address: Input either your permanent residential or mailing address  
  • LinkedIn URL: About 87% of recruiters will use LinkedIn to research candidates during the hiring process. Therefore, having this URL available will provide recruiters with another opportunity to review your professional profile 

Objective 

The most effective objective is one that is tailored to the job and catches an employer’s eye. Think of it as a first impression — it’s important. When meeting someone for the first time, it doesn’t take long to decide if there’s mutual interest. Companies maintain the same mentality. Most recruiters scan a resume in six seconds, on average. Therefore, you need to be able to quickly present yourself in a professional manner to offer an insight into who you are and what you want. 

State exactly what kind of job you are seeking. Interested in welding, painting, pipefitting or rigging? Write it. Make this section concise, but try to hit your main point in three to four lines. If you’re struggling to create something short and savvy, look at the language used in the job posting you are responding to and try to use it as a guide or inspiration. 

Try this short example objective to get an idea on how to start:  

“Recent technical school graduate seeking a construction job where I can utilize my experience in laying brick and repairing arches.” 

Education 

Employers want to know about your educational background, including craft training programs or technical schools. This is especially important if you are still attending school. Keep this in chronological order from most recent to least recent. The names of schools you’ve attended, corresponding years, whether you graduated, and the type of diploma or certification received are all necessary information, if applicable to you. In addition, listing if you’ve received (or are receiving) any special construction-related training or have taken (or are taking) certification courses helps you stand out and emphasizes your commitment to continuing your education in your chosen craft. 

Job Experience 

Most important of all, recruiters want to see that you can put your skills to work in the field. 67% of recruiters say this section is of high importance when making a hiring decision, and for good reason. Be sure to highlight all of your past positions, including apprenticeships and other training experiences, and be sure to put them in chronological order with the most recent job first. 

For each job, indicate the title of the position, employer, your time with the company, and a short description about your role. For the description, the focus should be on three principles: what was done in the position, how it was done (or why), and the results. It’s important to describe instances in which you’ve added value to a company. Mention how you increased performance times, negotiated a new contract, or other ways your work may have benefitted a project. 

Make sure you are listing any construction-related experience you might have- it does not have to be a formal job from a prestigious construction company. If you’ve helped a friend build a fence, repainted someone’s bedroom, or refurbished a basement, list it. It all counts as construction-related experience. 

Skills/Qualifications 

In this section, call employer’s attention to what you can do on a construction site, including all the tools and/or equipment you have experience with. This can be a bullet point list that provides recruiters with a quick glance at the skills you have mastered. In a job description, companies will typically list a few technical requirements for the position. If you can check off those items and say, “I can do that,” add it to this section, but be specific. For example, if the company describes a certain software it uses, (such as BIMAutoCAD, Primavera), list the software instead of generalizing that you are computer literate. List certifications as well, including OSHA and/or any other relevant certifications. 

Soft skills are also wonderful to mention here, such as the ability to work in teams, whether you are punctual, or proficiency in another language. Keep in mind that any skill you mention in your resume could be discussed further in your interview process. 

Use Keywords 

While elaborate words and phrases look appealing, they don’t always get to the point. In this situation, action verbs are your friend. Make the job description pop and your skills easily ecognizable. Here are a few examples: 

Action verbs: applied, approved, managed, illustrated, generated, marketed, contracted, aided, contributed, scheduled, calculated, painted, interpreted, trained, operated, solved, guided, tested 

Remember to Proofread 

One of the most critical steps to creating a resume is going back through it, line by line, and checking for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. In a survey by temp agency Accountemps, hiring managers were asked about how many spelling errors they would tolerate on a resume: one-fifth said they throw it out after just one, and 28% said two typos could cost the applicant an interview. While not all companies are sticklers about mistakes, it’s easy to keep these errors like these from getting the best of you.  

Master the Interview 

As a skilled craft professional in the construction industry, you’ll be subject to tight schedules and deadlines, demanding projects, and coworkers from all backgrounds and experience levels. While a resume states your capabilities, the interview is your opportunity to meet with a recruiter face-to-face and discuss the position in depth, ask questions, and sell yourself as the right person for the job. The more time you take in advance to prepare for an interview, the easier it will be. 

Remember, a job interview is not an exam- scheduling hours out of the day to work on interviewing skills is unnecessary. Instead, read the job description, understand what is being asked of a new employee, and ensure you are prepared to discuss your experience and why you are the ideal candidate for the company. Here are a few tips to keep in mind. 

Practice and Prepare 

This is the time to review the job description, run through a few practice interviews, and learn to speak with confidence. Your responses should address the question directly and highlight the skills that are in your resume. 

Review this list of frequently asked questions for construction workers: 

  1. Describe your most recent projects. 
  2. Have you demonstrated safe work practices in your former job? 
  3. How do you prioritize the necessary tasks of a job? 
  4. Give an example of a time when you had no direction in solving problem and how you overcame the issue.  

Discuss the Company 

Do your homework. If a recruiter were to ask, “What do you know about our company?”, you need to be prepared to follow up with a response. This demonstrated that you’ve done your research, and are taking the process seriously. A company will be more interested in someone with background knowledge of its culture, history, values, and current projects than someone who is incapable or unprepared to readily answer that question, which is a commonly asked in interviews. Take time to research and understand general information, and be prepared to discuss it.  

Dress for Success 

Pick out an outfit the night before. Create a professional look that is neat, tidy and appropriate for the company you are interviewing with. Guidelines for professional interview attire are pretty straight-forward: 

  • Jacket/tie 
  • Button-down shirt, or appropriate blouse/top 
  • Nice jeans (no holes or stains) 
  • Clean work boots or dress shoes 
  • Sweater 
  • Neat hairstyle 
  • Limited jewelry 

Planning out everything— from the shoes on your feet to what time you will leave— can help reduce anxiety. One part of selling who you are, is how you present yourself. Remember, first impressions are important.  

Be Punctual 

Speaking of first impressions: do not be late. Punctuality is crucial in the construction industry. Determine the interview location ahead of time and how long it will take you to get there. Being on time means showing up 5 to 10 minutes early. Prepare and adjust for local traffic patterns, and be aware of weather conditions. You will want a few minutes prior to the interview to prepare yourself, check your appearance, and visit the restroom.  

Follow Up 

As a courtesy, follow up with an email or thank you to express your gratitude for being considered for the position. A company can interview over 20 applicants — but will all say thank you after the fact? This is another chance to reiterate your interest, give details that were forgotten during the interview, and stand out.  

Final Thoughts 

Go over the resume writing process, practice your interviewing skills, and remember these final tips as you embark on your journey working in the construction industry.   

  1. Be honest 
  2. Limit the resume to one page 
  3. Practice, practice, practice 
  4. Keep your language simple 
  5. Be confident 

Everything you need to know about starting a career in the construction industry is here for you to reference and refer to. If you need extra help, check out a few examples to help you visualize what your resume should look like. The most important thing is to just make one. Create your resume, apply for positions in the construction field that best matches your experience, and start preparing for an interview. Who knows? You might just find that the right resume and interview techniques will get you hired instantly.