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In my last blog, I pointed out that in many cases no experience is necessary for people looking at a trade career. Many employers, trade service firms in particular, place a higher value on personality than past experience. As long as you have a mechanical aptitude, they can train you in a relatively short time to handle the technical demands of the work. But they won’t hire anyone with an abrasive personality liable to annoy customers and co-workers, no matter how well that person knows his way around a tool box.

Let’s analyze in a little more detail how you can land one of these jobs as a trainee. The first thing you need to focus on is WIIFT. That abbreviation is a takeoff on WIIFM, “What’s in it for me?”, the mindset of most people when someone is trying to sell them something. Think instead of “What’s in it for them?” An employer doesn’t care that you need a job and want to be a trade worker. The employer cares about whether you can be an asset to the business.

So, before you go knocking on trade employer doors, do a little research and find out as much as you can about the company. Seek out customers, current and past employees, ask them what it’s like to work for this company and the traits they value in people who work for them. Study the firm’s website, where you’ll learn things about the company’s history, services they offer and attitudes about doing business. Ask around about the company’s reputation. Do they treat customers well? Do they have large turnover of employees? Armed with sufficient background knowledge, you may be in a commanding position when you knock on the door asking for work. “Free

Besides learning things about the company, this kind of background research will also give you an inkling of the top companies in your area. Do you really want to work for a company that will hire any warm body simply because they’re desperate for trade workers?

Once you get inside the door, pay attention to what you see. Look at photos, awards and certificates that may be hanging on the walls in the boss’s office or reception area. That will tell you a lot about the company’s values and performance, and give you some talking points in the interview.

“Congratulations on your Contractor of the Year award. I would love to work for a company like that!” Flattery might not get you everywhere, but it’s likely to get you somewhere.

Remember, it’s about them, not you. What’s important to them is not that you are looking for a job, but what you can do to help them make money.