We don’t need to remind you that the building industry took quite a hit during the last recession. This year’s forecast for construction employment, says the Dodge Outlook Report, is also pretty iffy.
- Single-family and multifamily housing will show about 10% improvement – not great, but at least it’s trending in the right direction.
- Industrial construction is forecast to slip in 2012.
- Don’t expect a flood of opportunity in public works – due to budget cuts, new projects are harder to come by.
Looking for work?
You’re not alone. Construction employment is challenging, but the jobs are out there for many people at all stages of their careers. Chances are, one of these descriptions fits you:
“I’m just entering the construction field.”
Maybe you always wanted a job where you can look back on your work – a home, a bridge or a highway – with pride. Or maybe you long to ditch the office for something that offers more challenge and variety. Construction careers can fill the bill.
- The skills you need. If you’ve always been handy with a hammer, or the go-to guy for your friends’ drywall projects, you could have a good foundation to get started in construction as an assistant or other kind of helper. You will build more credibility with hiring managers when you complete certification courses.
- Getting your foot in the door. Talk to trade-school instructors and local contractors. Ask if you can work as an intern or apprentice. It not only builds your skills, it also looks good on a resume.
“I got laid off my construction job.”
In 2010, the unemployment rate for construction workers reached 27%. But by 2011, the number was only 13%. Was this due to an amazing number of new jobs? No – it was due to thousands of workers leaving construction for other opportunities. You can take advantage of that exodus to get a foothold in a recovering housing market.
- The skills you need. The skills you have are valuable. But learning new construction skills can better your chances of getting a job. If you’re a carpenter, consider branching out into electrical or plumbing work.
- Getting your foot in the door. Are you active on social networks like Facebook and Twitter? These sites can also connect you with opportunities. You can find communities tied to your field and share job information. LinkedIn, the world’s biggest professional network, lets you explore companies, view job openings, and make valuable contacts.
“I want to go up the ladder into management.”
The job of a project manager or construction manager combines technical skills with those of organization, supervision, safety, budgeting and a host of other disciplines. Moving up the ladder into management can lead you to more stable and better-paying construction careers.
- The skills you need. Since you’ll be working with people as much as with equipment, courses in project management, time management, human resources, and even communications are important. Getting these skills involves formal course training, after which you may earn degrees ranging from an associate’s degree to a master’s. You can find more information from the American Council for Construction Education, or the Associated Schools of Construction.
- Getting your foot in the door. Talk to your current supervisors about how they prepared for their roles. Look to industry sites like Construction Work to search and browse management opportunities in your area and beyond. It helps if you’re open to relocating to where construction projects are more prevalent.
The experts say …
- Don’t wait. Even though job openings are tight, they still exist. A partner in San Francisco coaching firm Whelan Stone sees it every day. “We speak with plenty of people who say they aren't job hunting right now because they're waiting for the economy to pick up,” she told CNN in 2010. "But there is hiring going on, and the people who are getting hired are the ones who are out there trying the hardest, without stopping."
- Show your stuff as a volunteer. Put your skills to work with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, or your town’s own community assistance programs. As United Way notes, volunteering helps develop or enhance your skills, and you will meet people (including supervisors who may remember you later).
- Create a winning resume. The job site Monster says the ideal construction-related resume combines a summary of your skills with a brief work history – even if that history includes unemployment gaps. List all your degrees, certifications, special training and licenses, too.
The same talent and dedication that pointed you to construction work in the first place will come in handy as you build a new or better career. Start now and don’t give up!