The rules for the construction worker resume are changing

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The role of the resume has been changing. Multiple industries have seen changes over the past several years as the market has climbed back from the recession and handed power back to candidates. Some of that power comes from the widespread labor shortage and resulting candidate-driven nature of today’s job market. In addition, studies are showing the importance of humanizing the hiring process and business experts and lawmakers alike are debating important issues (such as salary and diversity) that impact how hiring decisions are made. These factors are affecting resumes in nearly every industry, and the construction worker resume is no exception. Here are some of the most common issues we are seeing, as well as how you might address them in your construction worker resume.

The trouble with titles

Because the construction industry is experiencing a labor shortage, skilled candidates are in high demand at all levels of construction organizations, from the field to the C-suite. Many of the most sought-after candidates are passive, meaning they are relatively happy in their current roles but are open to career-enhancing moves. For most candidates, that means they expect a substantial pay jump, a title promotion, or both. For example: while a construction company might look at the resume of a talented Project Manager who earns $100K and expect them to accept a lateral position with a new company, the reality is that such a candidate might expect a Senior Project Manager role and a salary of at least $150K if they join a new company. To ensure that everyone is on the same page, the objective and skills sections of a construction worker resume should clearly reflect the candidate’s expectations and abilities. For instance, that $100K Project Manager’s objective could say, “Seeking a senior project management role that will allow me to utilize and expand upon my 10+ years of residential project management experience.” Then an employer who is reading the resume will understand what the candidate is looking for and will know whether current openings are a good fit for their skills and career goals.

Read more: Contractor vs Subcontractors – What is the difference?

Navigating the salary question

Several states have outlawed the practice of requiring salary information during the job interview process, and even in those places where it is still legal, the practice has become largely taboo. Many candidates believe that what they earned in previous roles has no bearing on the value they can bring to a new employer. As a result, candidates in construction must display value-add characteristics and experiences on their resumes while eliminating direct salary information. When an employer reads through a construction worker resume, they should be thinking about the predetermined salary range for the open position and analyzing whether this candidate’s skills and experiences merit that salary — not wondering whether the candidate earned this salary in previous jobs. When salary needs to be addressed, either in writing (on the resume or an automated job application) or in the interview process, both candidates and hiring managers should frame the discussion around target salaries rather than salary histories.

Find also: Construction daily logs – 101 guide

Skills and storytelling

Even in a candidate-short market, construction executives want to make smart hiring decisions for their companies. And since a resume only has an average of six seconds to make an impression on a hiring manager, it is increasingly important to tell that candidate’s story in a fresh, compelling way. One way is to focus on projects rather than hashing out the day-to-day duties of being an Estimator. Construction executives know what an Estimator’s job entails; what they want to know is what makes that candidate different from the average Estimator. For workers coming into the job market out of school or from different industries, the key is to tie in out-of-industry skills to a construction firm’s needs. For instance, working one’s way through college as a waitress or in retail sales may not apply directly to a role as a Project Engineer, but that candidate gained invaluable skills in customer service, multitasking, salesmanship, stress management, teamwork, and professionalism that will absolutely come in handy in a construction career. If a candidate’s story is told well through the construction worker resume, he or she can help hiring managers in construction understand the value they can add, even if their background is unconventional for the position they seek.

Do you need a construction worker resume at all?

Several attributes of the modern-day workforce cause candidates to wonder if formal resumes are necessary at all. As the gig economy grows and flourishes, some workers have never needed a resume to pursue their career goals, which might create a barrier if they want to transition into more traditional employment. Other people rely entirely on LinkedIn or similar mediums, which display their credentials and recommendations but do not qualify as a standard resume. In construction specifically, field workers such as Superintendents or crafts workers do not rely on technology as much as office-based workers, and so they might have rudimentary resumes or project lists that do not look flashy, but do reflect solid careers in the field. And finally, recent studies have shown that more jobs are filled through networking than traditional job applications, which may mean that learning networking skills should take priority over painstakingly preparing a resume. There is no single correct answer as to whether and how resumes are still valuable, but the ongoing discussion is something that both candidates and employers should be aware of and should consider throughout the hiring process. There are many reasons why a resume may look different than an employer expects, and plenty of them do not mean that a candidate is unqualified or low-caliber.

The working world is changing, and the construction worker resume is changing with it. As a more human hiring process becomes the norm, some of the workforce’s current problems are being addressed and new issues (including implicit biases and the challenges associated with hiring for “culture fit”) are on the rise. Seeking to understand this changing landscape, with all its benefits and challenges, is critical to successfully creating and assessing resumes in the market today.
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