Thirty years ago, resumes for blue-collar workers was uncommon. Credentials and experience were all that mattered. Applications were obligatory information-gathering tools for hourly workers and resumes were seen as largely for white collar professionals. Job mobility was fluid for blue-collar workers rendering resumes unnecessary. Many job promotions were simple for those with good reputations and skilled workers worked in small circles that rewarded their good work. Regardless of the specific industry, blue-collar workers rarely used resumes. Today, a growing number of blue-collar workers are using resumes to set themselves apart in the growing blue-collar labor market. Employers want skilled and well-rounded candidates who can do a range of things well. Soft skills like good communication are also important too. Whether you’re a skilled laborer or day laborer or even a heavy machine operator, a well thought out resume is a great tool to make a positive first impression and give you more opportunities. Here are a few tips to crafting a stand out blue-collar resume:
- Start Strong
Hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes and don’t have time to read every word. The first section of your resume should stand out. Begin with a clear objective concisely detailing what you are looking for. Be as clear as possible because vague objectives get you nowhere. In addition, blue-collar professionals should consider presenting a summary in their objective section. “A resume is a marketing piece,” says Steven Provenzano, author of Blue-Collar Resumes. “Most resumes strictly list jobs, but you want to go beyond that by writing a summary of the most important skills for your current objective. Employers should want to hire you from the summary alone.” When writing your summary, think about what employers are seeking and include your matching skills and other relevant credentials. For instance, consider including:
- Your profession/trade specialty
- Licenses, permits and certifications
- Years of experience in the field
- Important skills and industry keywords
- Equipment or machinery you can operate
- A brief mention of top career accomplishments
- Flesh Out Your Work History
The Experience section is an opportunity to highlight your skills and accomplishments. Focus on quantifying your accomplishments and painting a picture of what you achieved instead of writing a list of job duties. Show how your work performance positively contributed to your employer’s operations. Noting achievements like boosted sales or an excellent attendance or safety record can set you apart from the competition. Workers in skilled labor and day labor often have trouble identifying their achievements because they feel they are simply doing their jobs. Having a hard time identifying your accomplishments? Ask yourself these questions:
- Did you earn shining performance evaluations?
- Did you win any awards for your work performance?
- Did you earn a perfect safety rating?
- Do you have a reputation for reliability?
- Did you recommend or implement processes that improved efficiency, productivity or workflow?
- Did you complete all jobs with no errors?
- Did your work enable the team to complete a project on time or on budget?
- Did you train new employees?
Customize your resume to the job description you are applying for and consider writing a new resume for each job application you submit.
- Mention Related Education
Your education and training is another avenue to sell yourself. Employers like seeing hands-on education and training related to your trade. Use the education section to list schools attended, vocational training, continuing education and any certifications or licenses you may have. If you completed a program, list the courses completed so employers can understand the breadth of your formal training.
Spelling and grammatical errors are notoriously and unfortunately common on resumes especially blue-collar resumes. Typos tell potential employers that you lack attention to detail. Details always matter even in the blue-collar industry. Avoid common resume mistakes by carefully proofreading and having others proofread for you. Having a second pair of eyes on your resume from someone with strong writing skills could help you avoid errors. Taking a few extra minutes to proofread helps you stand out as someone who pays attention to details and could mean the difference between landing an interview and being skipped over. Also, stay away from strange fonts or colors that could come off as unprofessional.
Starting strong, fleshing out your work history, mentioning related education and proofreading are all ways to help your resume stand out. Always remember to put yourself in the mind of the hiring manager and always sell yourself. Since a growing number of blue-collar workers are using resumes to sell themselves, crafting an appropriate and well-planned resume will put you ahead of the pack and could land you better opportunities. Try some of these tips for yourself and watch your opportunities grow.
McKinley Sterling is a Jr. Digital Marketing Specialist with Results Staffing. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2010 and has had several professional opportunities in the public relations, communications and digital media space. He is passionate about digital marketing and excited to bring his experience to this exciting new role with Results Staffing.