With the prevalence of Internet job classifieds, searching for a job is a vastly different process now than it was a couple decades ago. However, this change hasn’t affected industries equally across the board. Some fields, such as IT, do a great deal of job advertising through online job boards and major job websites. However, the skilled trades have been slower to move on these new methods of advertising job availability. For young workers and newcomers to the field, here are some of the more effective ways to search for skilled trade jobs.

Identify What Companies You’d Like to Work For
Instead of looking through classifieds, do your own research on companies in your industry you’d be interested in working for. Smaller local companies in the field may not have websites, so you may have to pull out the phone book and scan sections like “Machine Shops,” “HVAC,” “Contractors,” “Manufacturing,” “Plumbing,” etc. Look around town for help wanted signs, too. Print out your resume, and go inside these places to have a conversation with the people who actually work there.

Identify the Person with the Power to Hire You
It feels like the natural thing to do to first approach a company’s HR department and ask about positions, but this is a mistake. HR departments and recruiters are responsible for screening people out of the hiring process. In other words, they only have the power to say “no.” Find the person who you’d be working under – the person with the power to say “yes.” Find a way to secure an interview with this person. If they like you, they will inform HR that you are hired.

Use Your Contacts
A Harvard Business School study indicates that 80% of all jobs are secured as a result of networking. A recommendation from a contact is a powerful aid. Employers suffer when there is a gap in their workforce, and they suffer when a new hire doesn’t perform well. An introduction or positive review from a source they trust is weighted very heavily because it has the potential to end the job search with a candidate they already know is a good fit. When you ask your contacts if they know of any skilled trades positions, be as specific as you can. This will help them identify which of their own contacts would be good resources to turn to based on location, industry, company location, etc.

Students in a vocational or welder training program usually have additional resources in the form of their school’s Career Services department. Meet with a counselor for help putting together your resume, preparing for interviews, narrowing down your job search, employer practical skill testing, and more.

Resources:
http://www.willamette.edu/dept/careers/pdf/networking_strategies.pdf