by Guest Author, Miles Oliver
The trades offer some great opportunities for hands-on, creative, and long-lasting careers. From construction to outdoor landscaping and all points in between, there’s space for enrichment. Yet, there is still a significant shortage of women in trade roles.
Yes, this is problematic from an equality standpoint. It can also present great opportunities for women to innovate and find success as the trade landscape undergoes overdue changes. If you’re seeking a job in this field, it’s important to empower yourself to influence the most positive outcomes.
Let’s explore a few of the areas it’s worth focusing on.
Develop Clear Career Goals
Often, the best route to a successful and fulfilling career is to take a strategic approach. Start by making a set of clear goals you want to achieve. This helps you to more effectively map out the path you need to take along the way. You’re not always going to proceed exactly as planned, and you may make changes or occasionally get derailed. Nevertheless, it gives you a good foundation to build on.
This should include outlining the roles you’re interested in exploring. Amid skills shortages in the construction industry, women are increasingly present in a diverse range of trade roles. There’s still nowhere close to an equal representation, particularly outside of administrative roles. This is due to long-held gender biases, among other factors. But there are certainly signs of progress. Not only are women getting greater access to training for manual roles, but there’s also a greater focus on protective equipment and benefits designed to support women. This means that there are fewer restrictions on the roles that you can practically target.
You’re also likely to find it useful to connect with organizations that support women in the trades.
Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) is a government-run grant program. It provides funding to community-based organizations across the country that provide guidance and resources to women who are interested in entering trade positions. The program’s website lists recipients of grants, all of whom you could contact to gain deeper insights into the roles available and the pathways toward them.
Remember that your goals shouldn’t be limited to where you want to start in your trade career. Think about the direction you want to grow in and the impact you want to have. This doesn’t just give you a longer-term roadmap. It also provides you with questions you can ask human resources (HR) reps during interviews. This way, you’re better able to ensure that the businesses you apply to can give you access to growth in the right directions.
Gain Relevant Skills
No matter what your trade career goals are, skill development your best route to safety and success in them. Demonstrating you’re able to perform creatively, technically, and productively suggests that you’re a valuable asset to any project or team you’re a part of.
One of the benefits of a career in the trades is that they don’t tend to require traditional university qualifications. However, attending a trade school or an apprenticeship are recognized routes to success in this area. There may still be costs involved, but these tend to be far lower than you’d expect to pay for a degree. Additionally, there are scholarships aimed at encouraging women to pursue trade careers.
Alongside attending trade schools, some of the other skills it’s worth developing include:
- Communication: Effective communication skills are essential for any trade position. However, it’s also important to develop more than just general communicative skills. For instance, workplace hazard communication keeps sites safe, productive, and compliant with regulations. Some of the key tenets of this include providing thorough safety training, ensuring clear hazard signage, and identifying the right channels to report issues. By gaining safety communication skills, you can boost your value to trade projects and businesses.
- Project management: Trade activities tend to involve teams of professionals in different fields collaborating to achieve outcomes. This means that employees with solid project management skills are vital for leading tasks toward success. Indeed, even when you’re not in a leadership position, your project management skills give you insights that help you understand the wider context of your role and act effectively.
Remember that skills aren’t just something that enable your entry into the trades. Developing a diverse and agile set of skills throughout your career makes you an attractive prospect for progression within a business or industry. Not to mention that this can provide a basis for starting your own company in a landscape in which women entrepreneurs are sorely needed.
Communicate Your Value in Applications
Whether it’s your first trade role or you’re looking for a change, your application is the gateway to success. Unfortunately, women are still subject to significant recruitment bias. This may present hurdles. One of the ways to overcome these is to ensure your application focuses on your value as a skilled tradesperson.
Recruiters must be able to quickly and immediately see what value you provide to their businesses. Make certain that you outline your trade expertise as high up on your resume as possible. Bullet point your skills alongside context for how they make a difference. Highlight your safety abilities, your technical know-how, and your organizational prowess. Use simple language, but include keywords that recruiters will be searching for.
Your interview is likely to be the first face-to-face contact you have with an employer, so make the most of it. Dress for your interview in a way that demonstrates you embrace the culture of the industry. Prepare for the interview by identifying specific examples of how you’ve positively impacted safety or problem-solving on projects. If this is your first role, prepare examples of personal projects that showcase your value.
As a woman seeking a trade job, there’s potential to achieve success. It’s important to gain clarity on your goals, though, alongside gaining the most relevant skill sets. During the application process, make certain you optimize your resume and interview approach to leverage your value to projects. Remember, though, that the industry is changing. Keep on top of what skills are most in demand and the attributes that businesses consider valuable in workers. This enables you to prepare to present yourself as the best possible candidate for the role.
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About the author: Miles Oliver is a freelance contributor whose writing focuses on professional development. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org