Getting a job

If you want to be wanted, right now and into the future, Jane McCarroll has a few ideas.

The other day, right out of the blue, my partner was approached to consider a new job. That happens. Not to me, but to him, it does. What was different about this time is that they asked him to send across his CV.

He was surprised. No-one has asked to see his CV since he finished his apprenticeship in 1993. I couldn’t believe it.  I’ve needed mine dozens of times. In the course of my working life I have had my CV rewritten, repurposed, colour-coded, you name it, many times.

Why then do potential employers chase him and not me? It is because he is a tradesman and I am not. The difference between our experiences in the job market is night and day. I told him about the things I have to do to get a job.

First I have to find a position for which I think I would be a good fit. I have to do this myself because nobody comes chasing after me waving contracts.

Once I have found a suitable job vacancy, I send my CV and if I am lucky I might get an acknowledgement. If I’m even luckier, I might get an interview. If that goes well, there will be a second interview and possibly a third. There will be presentations, pitches, psychometric testing, panel interviews, the lot.

You can do all these things and still not get the job. But whether you do or you don’t, the whole procedure takes ages. Months even. The partner listened patiently but was not, I think, impressed.

His experience is that he hasn’t had to apply for a job since finishing his apprenticeship in 1993 – the work and jobs have always come to him, built on relationships. On this occasion though, the company asked him to fire through his CV. Obviously it must need refreshing.

So we fished out the ancient, document, circa 1993 (which included such arcane information as his mother’s maiden name) and put together a one-page CV to share with his prospective employer, and here’s what happened.

Prospective employer phones next day for a chat. They scheduled an appointment for the following day to have a face-to-face and within seven business days of initial contact they had a great written offer for him to consider. Sealed and sorted within a week.

While from my experience applying for a new job is a slow process with lots of moving parts, from my observation it is not like this for tradies.

There’s work everywhere. More people are needed now and far into the future. With the demand for construction workers predicted to increase by 70 percent in the next decade we need more young people to consider careers in the trades. 

When I think about my career – gulp – I have been made redundant three times. I’ve worked through two recessions where the supply and demand were at polar opposite to our friends in trades. There is so much work for them and not enough people to do that work.

I saw this first-hand on the home front where we (my partner and I) recently built a fence and a deck. On the weekends we were working on the project he was invited to quote for work or consider a building project three times from people walking past. And we live in a quiet street. I have never known that level of appeal from potential employers.

If you want to be wanted right now and into the future, choose a career in the trades, I say.  


Jane McCarroll is  the strategic partnership and sponsorship lead at The Skills Group, which the Institute of Management New Zealand is part of. IMNZ: Helping leaders stand up and lead since 1946.

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