In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic our standard economic order has been upended. Though no industry has been completely unscathed, the skilled trades have yet again continued to be an attractive and lucrative form of employment despite the difficult times. Even with unprecedentedly high unemployment, many industries that rely on skilled trade workers are continuing to face a talent shortage! If you are lucky enough to already be employed in a skilled trade, like HVAC, here are some tips and tricks to help you maximize your career potential even in tough times.
Safety in the trades is paramount. Wear your PPE, follow proper safety procedures, and do not get complacent on jobsites. In the best-case scenario, safety incidents mean lost working time and income. In extreme instances, a safety incident can kill or maim you or others, and an injury can make continued employment in the trades impossible. At LONG, safety is one of our core values and top priorities. We encourage all workers to stop work if he or she encounters an unsafe situation until it can be resolved.
Get your certifications and continue to add certifications whenever possible throughout your career. In commercial HVAC, control techs can seek out certifications from manufacturers, and mechanical technicians can do the same for equipment, or pursue their NATE Certification. And any apprentice electricians should be working hard for their Journeyman License. We encourage and support all of our team members to continue their education and earn certifications. We believe that you should never stop learning, which leads to the next tip…
Seek out on the job training from senior technicians and formalized training whenever possible. Even if a course does not offer a certification, additional training is almost always valuable. Also, pairing up with a senior technician, mentor, or subject matter expert can provide invaluable on-the-job training, even for those with years of experience.
Be one of the most polite and professional people on a jobsite. It is important to remain polite and professional on a jobsite, even when under pressure. Keeping behavior, language, and your attitude professional and positive will have a beneficial impact on all those around you.
Avoid legal trouble and always follow your company’s drug and alcohol policies. It can be hard to move up in your position if you’re constantly managing background or driving issues with employers. It is not that some splotches on a record are automatically deal breakers, but they make things harder than they need to be. Not following drug and alcohol policies can have even larger impacts than losing a promotion; they can inhibit performance and create safety hazards in vehicles or jobsites.
Update your resume every 6 months and be sure to list any training, certifications, or systems experience you have accumulated. This will help you take advantage of any career opportunities that come your way and help you manage an unexpected job loss.
If you are considering trying to leave a field role for an office role, recognize that the transition will take time, and work to build your skill set to facilitate a successful transition early on. It can take years for a Tradesman to become proficient in their craft and often there are similar learning curves for office-based roles. You will need to be prepared to put in similar time and effort to make the switch.
Network with others in your industry. Simply put, it is a good thing if major players in an industry know who you are and like you. Often, your reputation will proceed you as you work through a trade. This can be a huge benefit for you if you have a positive reputation, or a huge barrier to overcome if others expect to face challenges working with you. Get to know others in your industry and try to leave a positive impression.
Avoid being a job hopper. To continue growing in your position or change companies, you will require training from your employer, and you need to show that you are worth investing the time and resources involved in training. If you are constantly changing employers, employers get concerned that dollars sunk into training you will not benefit the company. Sure, you might be able to change companies to a job that is basically the same as what you already know how to do, but if a job change will require significant retraining, then you may not be worth the financial risk if you have a history of job hopping.
As stated before, even with the current national economic turmoil, the skilled trades, and HVAC in particular, are excellent careers to be established in. If you are an established tradesman at the moment, take advantage of your position and make the most of it! Use this tips and tricks to set yourself up for career and financial success!
Looking for a job in the skilled trades? View our careers page to see what positions we have available, or contact us for more information.
David is LONG’s corporate recruiter and a former Career Advisor. He has been writing and reviewing resumes for over five years for a variety of industries and roles and is dedicated to helping others reach their professional potential. When not Recruiting for LONG, he likes to hike, fish, camp, and spend time with his family.