Gone are the days when a glowing recommendation was enough to land your next construction job. Today, construction hiring managers often ask to see a resume, and you could lose a good opportunity if yours isn’t up to speed. Follow our tips and you will be hammering out a new and improved construction resume in no time:
Start with the Right Resume Format
It’s common for construction jobs to be short-term, so workers may assume that a functional resume is the best format. “If you’re using a functional resume to hide employment gaps or job-hopping, this approach could backfire,” says Betty Geller, NCRW, principal of Apple Resume & Career Services, an Elmira, New York-based resume-writing firm that specializes in blue-collar resumes. “Construction-industry employers may view the functional resume with suspicion, and wonder what you are trying to hide.”
Instead, use a combination resume. This resume format, which leads with a qualifications summary and includes a detailed work history, is a better choice for most construction workers.
State Your Goal
Include your career objective and qualifications summary near the top of your resume. “The employer should be able to glance at your resume and know your precise job target, whether you’re a carpenter, an electrician, a roofer or work in any other construction trade,” Geller says. “Then provide a brief overview of your strongest qualifications.”
Presenting yourself as a jack-of-all-trades doesn’t work on a construction resume. “Many times, workers will have an ‘I can do it all’ attitude, instead of listing specific specialties,” says Ken Romero, an Albuquerque-based trade recruiter for CLP Resources, a skilled-trades staffing company.
What if you have more than one objective? “Always keep an updated, general resume format ready, and when applying for a specific construction job, edit the copy to match the requirements of the advertised position,” says Arthur Rosenberg, author of The Resume Handbook: How to Write Outstanding Resumes and Cover Letters for Every Situation.
Include Construction Industry Credentials
Add a section for construction industry credentials that employers would find valuable. “Construction-related certifications, licenses, training, degrees and trade union memberships should all be easy to find, as employers will be looking for the relevant industry designations,” Geller says.
“List certifications such as OSHA, MSHA and NCCER, and include when and where they were issued,” says Jeffre Raybon, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based lead trade recruiter for Project Trades Solutions, a nationwide staffing firm specializing in traveling industrial tradespeople.
Also include your job-specific skills in a Skills section. Review ads for construction jobs to see what skills employers find desirable, and incorporate your matching skills into your resume. “Skills could be as varied as cost estimating, project management, heavy-equipment operation, safety compliance, scheduling and facilities maintenance -- every construction worker brings a different set of skills to the table,” Geller says.
Describe Your Accomplishments
In addition to stating your day-to-day responsibilities, give employers an idea of how well you performed at each construction job. “Accomplishments -- especially if meaningful and quantitative -- should always be included and will help you stand out from the crowd,” Rosenberg says.
Construction worker resumes often lack sufficient detail for hiring managers to make an informed decision about the applicant. “Detail each job by company, site, foreman or manager, scope of work, and type of facility,” Raybon says.
Your resume is a marketing tool, and accomplishments will help show the value you offer. “There could be 50 applicants who aren’t as experienced as you, but if your resume doesn’t make the sell, you may not get the work,” says Paula Keller, Sacramento, California-based lead trade recruiter for CLP Resources.
Keller says a common mistake in construction resumes is “fudging information or filling in gaps so they look better,” but a background check can uncover these lies and ruin your chance of getting hired.
“A well-written, visually appealing resume that is geared to the construction hiring manager’s requirements will get noticed -- there’s no need to embellish the facts,” Geller says.
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