5 Ways to Land Your First Job in the Trades


Congratulations! A career in the trades can be fulfilling, fun, and lucrative. First, though, you have to land your first job.

Your trade school may have a number of resources to help you get started. They may have a co-op program to help you transition into full­-time work. Or they might help you move into your local union’s apprenticeship program.

If those options aren’t available, though, you may have to do your own legwork. The good news is that there’s high demand for most skills in the trades. If you are a reliable worker who is willing to learn, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding work. Below are a few options you may want to consider as you look for your first job.


Before you start knocking on doors and applying for jobs, prepare a resume to showcases your skills and education. You’d be surprised how many applicants for trade industry jobs don’t have resumes. If you take the time to create one, you’ll be one big step ahead of other applicants.

Most resumes highlight work experience, though you may not have much of that, if any. If this is the case, go in ­depth about your schooling. Jot bullet points to highlight courses you took, projects you completed, and unique skills you acquired. Be sure to also list any work or co-­op experience that you have had. The most important thing is that the resume be clean, polished, and easy to read.

Not sure how to create a resume? No problem. You can create one for free on CraftForce. Simply sign up for a membership and answer a few questions about your background and education. CraftForce takes this information and creates a professional resume for you. Bring this resume with you to interviews and and you’re already one step ahead of most candidates!


No matter your skill set, there are jobs out there. Employers aren’t going to beat down your door, though. You have to be proactive and get out there to find them.

One way to do this is to spend some time researching local employers online that you may want to work with. Don’t just look for companies that have job openings posted online, make a list of all the companies that might be a good fit for you. If you’re a machinist, make a list of local machine shops. If you’re a carpenter, make a list of builders, remodelers, and contractors. You get the idea.

Next, start making phone calls. Ask for the general manager or whomever is in charge of hiring. When you get them on the phone, simply introduce yourself and briefly explain what you’re looking for. They’ll either have jobs available or they won’t. The worst that can happen is that they don’t have any openings.

Either way, they will likely be impressed by your professionalism and will keep you in mind for future openings. This will expand your network. A big network is always a good thing to have as you advance your career!


Apprenticeships are a great way to start a career! Though you may get paid a little less than you would at a normal full­-time job, the experience will qualify you to earn more at your next gig, paying off over the span of your career.

Ask your trade school to connect you with any apprenticeship opportunities. Also, reach out to your local union. Most have apprenticeship programs that will place you with a great employer.


The best jobs are often landed through a network of friends, coworkers, and classmates. Want to hear about job openings before they’re even posted online? Build a big network within the industry. Great contacts can also put in a good word for you, giving you a leg up. A big network is always a valuable asset.

Make an effort to get to know everyone in your trade school and keep in touch with them after you graduate. You never know who could give you a great referral! Also, ask your school if you can reach out to alumni. Many of them will be in the workforce, so they may know about potential openings. They also may be eager to help someone who is just starting out in the industry.

Don’t be afraid to connect with people. Your connections are often your most powerful tool when it comes to finding a new job.


So… we’ve chalked up some of the most solid pointers for landing your first job in the skilled trades. Exciting stuff, eh?! In following these guidelines and leaning on the right resources, you’ll be employed and advancing in your career in no time.

If you’re looking for an additional resource that’ll make the job search process even easier, look no further than CraftForce’s online job-search platform. With a powerful engine that locates opportunities in the your field, instantly, CraftForce will have you gainfully employed in no time. You simply create a free account and profile describing the type of work you’re looking for. Our search engine finds job openings that meet your criteria (completing what’s otherwise known as “the hard part” of finding a job).

The opportunities are out there! It’s just on you to find them. With a little smart effort, you can and will land your first job, taking your  first step in a long and fulfilling career in the trades! ‘One small step for man… one giant leap for…’ you get the idea.

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Photo credit: vonderauvisuals via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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America’s Vocational Education is Important


In 1983, an investigation by the National Commission on Excellence in Education found that our education system was, by and large, failing our citizens. What then Secretary of Education T.H.Bell confirmed was “the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our education


-something is seriously remiss in our education system--T.H. Bell, Secretary of Education 1983

What had been dangerously underestimated was the importance of vocational programs in funneling youth into skilled trades careers. Ideally, this next generation carries out the work that, primarily, our current baby boomer generation is now retiring from. Instead, they are funnelled into pursuing a traditional education. In sum: our country has no successive skilled workforce. This work includes construction and extraction occupations, welding, soldering and brazing workers, and machinists. Need a visual representation of this scary phenomena? Check out this infographic for a comprehensive breakdown.



This gap in our education system has closely contributed to what the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition calls, appropriately, a “skills gap”. We have created an environment in which there is no younger generation of tradesmen and women to fill the jobs that the baby boomers are retiring from. Multiple sources have echoed these concerns, such as Fox Business, whose article reads, “Positions in skilled trades, such as welders and electricians, lead ManpowerGroup’s list of the hardest jobs to fill in 2012.” This is a big problem… We can only anticipate the demand for skilled trades work increase as the economy recovers from our last recession. So… what can we do about the lack of skilled workers?


Let’s first challenge the misperception that all quality jobs in this country require a traditional four-year-degree. Let’s change our approach to vocational education and realize that skilled trades work is as respectable, fulfilling, and meaningful a career path as traditional options. Let’s break this national stigma that says blue collar work is somehow ‘less honorable’ than working 9-5 in an office.


The jobs in trades industries are abundant, and there are a multitude of organizations that can help you prepare for and connect with the opportunities! Companies like NCCEROSHA, AWS, and, Unions offer education programs that teach the important skills needed for entering the industry. If you don’t have a program close to you, check out a community college or trade school in your area. Don’t forget to stop by the financial aid office to ask about available scholarships!

The resources are out there to help young up-and-coming skilled tradesmen and women fill the shoes of a retiring generation of workers. If you’re a recent high-school graduate seeking a fulfilling career path, we suggest exploring the skilled trades. It’s up to you to pick a path, educate yourself, and secure a promising future.


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