In the past, you may not have needed a blue collar resume. Perhaps you’ve picked up work through your network or based on your reputation. But there may come a time in your career when you want to apply for roles with larger companies or need to look beyond your network for work. Usually these employers expect you to apply using a resume (or CV).
Writing a blue collar resume
Writing your first blue collar resume, or updating an old version, can be a daunting process. The following tips will make this task easier and help you create a document that makes a great first impression.
What employers want
Companies use resumes to find candidates who have:
- Enough experience in the field.
- Demonstrated trade skills that can transfer to a new role.
- Developed soft skills such as the ability to communicate effectively.
- Contributed to the success of their previous or current organisation.
Include your contact details – all of them. You would be surprised at the number of resumes we see where the name is missing, that have the wrong phone number or no email address. Be sure that a potential employer can contact you.
The email address you use to apply for jobs should be professional. It may be a good idea to create a professional email address just for use in your job search. Keep the one that reflects your personality or sense of humour for personal use.
Most managers make a decision about a resume in 30 seconds or less. Your resume needs to quickly demonstrate what you will bring to the job.
Remember that your blue collar resume is a marketing document that is ‘selling’ you to potential employers. Get their attention with a work-focused career summary that makes you stand out from the competition. Start off strongly otherwise your resume could be rejected within seconds.
Keep the summary brief – you will use the rest of the resume to provide further detail. Aim to write about a paragraph covering the following points:
- Your profession/trade speciality.
- Licenses, permits and certifications you possess.
- How many years of experience you have that is relevant to the role.
- Important or rare skills and knowledge you have.
- Equipment, machinery and software you can operate.
- Your key career accomplishments.
Use plain, simple English that gets your point across quickly. Don’t forget to use keywords.
Tailor your resume
Tailor your resume to the vacancy that you are applying for to show the reader why they need to hire you for this specific role. A lot of people use the same document every time they apply for a job, which can come across as laziness to potential employers.
The advertisement or job description may specify a skill, licence or knowledge as a requirement for the role. If you have this, make sure you highlight this information so the reader can see you have the relevant skills or experience required.
For example, if the advert states the organisation is looking for a ‘commercial plumber with experience on large construction projects’ and you have this experience make sure it is on your resume. If you don’t include this information, the person reading your resume will assume you don’t have the required experience.
Responsibilities and achievements
Sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly what you do in your work.
If you’re not sure what to write, avoid just copying and pasting your current job description. Nothing says ‘lazy’ more clearly than that. Instead look at adverts for similar jobs to identify typical responsibilities that employers are seeking.
Don’t take your blue collar skills for granted. The truth is, the trade skills you have may have taken a long time to learn and not everyone has them. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your in-depth knowledge and experience that makes you different from other applicants.
To capture the reader’s attention, don’t just put down a long list of skills. Instead think about:
- How your skills have benefited your work.
- Some of the larger or more complex challenges on which you’ve used these skills.
Provide examples that illustrate how you have contributed to an organisation. This could include how you:
- Helped the team complete a project on time or on budget.
- Delivered works with zero defects.
- Introduced safer work practices.
- Improved productivity.
- Took on extra responsibilities such as training or inducting new staff.
Write about your work performance and if possible how you compare[d] to other workers in the same role.
Education and training
List schools attended, vocational training and details of all your licences and certifications and when you attained them.
Make it easy for the reader to find this information and simple to understand, so employers can see the scope of your formal and hands-on training.
If relevant, write about how you have continued to get additional skills and learn new things.
Resumes should be between two to four pages long, depending on the amount of experience and skills you have. You shouldn’t include everything you have ever done. If it doesn’t sell you or is unlikely to impress a potential employer then leave it off.
Avoid going further back than 10 years.
Check, check and check again
Your resume is an advertisement about you, showing people what you can do and the value you can bring to an organisation. If it looks like it has had little time or effort put into it and is full of easily avoidable mistakes, employers are likely to reject it. They will think you have either failed to take the recruitment process seriously or that the rest of your work will be just as sloppy.
Unfortunately, mistakes are easy to make. Check your resume at least twice to spot any spelling and grammatical errors. It’s also a good idea to ask a friend with an eye for detail and knowledge of spelling and grammar to check it for you as well.
Format and colour
It may be tempting to use colours or several different fonts to try to stand out. But stick with the standard black and white and a professional font such as Calibri or Arial. Let your skills, experience and achievements do the talking.
Glide Outplacement offers professional resume writing services and has experience writing resumes and cover letters for a range of industries. If you would like some feedback on your blue collar resume or assistance with your documents, job search or interview technique please contact us today.