February 19, 2016
Employers can train for skills
Getting a job in a skilled trade doesn’t necessarily require a lot of experience. Many trade employers are willing to train people who have a high mechanical IQ but not necessarily proven skills or experience with trade work.
In particular, residential service firms tend to be on the lookout for people who are personable and clean-cut, even if they’ve never had any formal training in plumbing, HVAC or electrical work. “Hire for attitude, train for skills” is the watchword of these companies. They know it’s easier to teach someone technical skills than change their personality. As long as you have the desire to pursue a trade career and a good mechanical aptitude – usually revealed through testing – many employers will hire novices and put them through a training program that may last anywhere from weeks to months before putting them out in the field. Often they will start out as a helper before handling repairs and installations alone.
To be an effective service technician, you need more than technical ability. You must be a people person who makes customers comfortable welcoming you into their home. You need to be able to explain in plain language the work that needs to be done and how much it will cost. What a skilled service technician needs is the ability to listen to customers and give them options to fix what ails their systems.
Many service technicians derive immense pride and satisfaction in their ability to solve problems for home owners. They build personal bonds that often lead home owners to ask for them by name when they call their employer’s company.
The best companies in the service sector provide their technicians with uniforms, business cards and ID badges, as well as clean, well-stocked service vehicles that may double as roving billboards with signage promoting the company. The professional image conveyed by these companies does a lot to dispel the stereotype of dirty grunt work associated with the trades.
How do you find these jobs? Sometimes all you need to do is look around. If you see an attractive vehicle that reminds you of a roving billboard, take down the phone number and ask if you can apply for a job. Some of these vehicles even have messages on them inviting job seekers to apply.
Most residential service contractors say capable service technicians are hard to find. Some employers will hire people they think can make the grade even if there is no immediate job opening. Their thinking is that as soon as the trainee is ready, they’ll purchase a vehicle and work with the newcomer to expand their business.
If you are a people person who happens to be handy with tools, give some of these companies a call. I bet you’ll be surprised at how many take an interest in you.