All posts by Sarah Abell


How to Get a Job Coach in the Skilled Trades

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Football. Basketball. Soccer. Hockey. In any sport, a coach is an invaluable part of any team.

The coaches’ job is to shape athletes in a sport by analyzing their performance, teaching them relevant skills and providing encouragement. Of course, a great coach will not only help a player perform better and grow physically stronger, he or she will guide the athlete in life and help them become a better person overall.

In other words, a coach is a pretty important and useful person to have on your sports team. So, why do we have coaches for sports, but not coaches for important aspects of our life, like our careers?

The short answer is everyone could use a good coach, especially when you’re starting out. Regardless of your career path of choice or your education, you could use guidance from someone who “knows the game,” so to speak.

So Why Do You Need a Job Coach in the Skilled Trades?

You will learn the skills you need to succeed in your field from an experienced tradesperson and more. Whether you are interested in construction, mechanics, plumbing, pipefitting, tool programming, carpentry, welding, or anything in between, a good job coach will help you identify what you are doing right and how to do it better. The right mentor will give you time to develop the confidence you need to perfect your skills to navigate the world of work.  

What is a Job Coach?

A job coach is an individual who helps people with career development, professional goals and long-term workplace success strategies, according to Chron.com. Job coaches are available for hire for most professional careers, except the skilled trades. If you are looking for someone to help you get into or improve your career in the skilled trades, coaches are harder to find.

The History of Job Coaches

In the past, apprenticeships were the common way to learn and improve your trade skills. If you wanted to learn a trade, you would approach a master craftsperson and ask to apprentice with them.

The master would teach you the skills a level at a time, usually starting with the most menial of tasks. Over time, you would have been given more complex assignments until you finally perfected your craft. As Gail M. Steines, Ph.D., says in the HERC blog, Not only were traditions passed down from generation to generation in this manner, but lifelong relationships were also developed, as the apprentice became a part of a trade.” You could then open a shop and take in an apprentice of your own.

A few decades ago, shop class was common in high schools. You would be introduced to several trades, varying from woodworking to auto mechanics. These classes gave you the basic skills you would need for an entry-level job in a trade. As you worked your way up in the crew, you would master more difficult skills by shadowing an experienced team member.

Today, you can enroll in technical schools or join the military to learn trade skills. However, if these are not options for you, a job coach can help. Where can you find a skilled trades job coach? Well, an internet search doesn’t turn up too many results. You are going to have to get creative.

How to Find a Mentor

To find a mentor in the field, you will need to consider who will fill this role for you. Also, decide on which skill or trade it is that you want to focus. Make it your goal to learn this skill, then get to work to make it happen. Here’s how:

  1. Who do you know with the skill you want to learn? It should be someone you admire such as a supervisor, experienced worker, master craftsman, business owner, friend or family member. Ask them to teach you or if they could recommend someone to train you.
  2. Always offer to help. If you see someone working on a car and you want to be a mechanic, lend a hand. You will get some basic training for free.
  3. Volunteer with disaster clean-ups, neighborhood improvement projects, church missions or any opportunities to involve yourself in a trade. Many times skilled laborers will volunteer their services for these events. You can work beside them, learn and connect with your future job coach.
  4. Read up on the skill you want to acquire. Knowing the trade you want to learn will help you speak with peers and potential mentors.
  5. Go to trade shows, craft fairs and events to talk to the vendors & craftspeople. Create a network that can lead to your job coach. Ask questions about how they got started and if they would consider an apprenticeship.
  6. Search online for clubs, programs or individuals who work in the trade you want to learn. Reach out to the group or person about lessons.
  7. Apply for the job you want, even if you don’t have the skills. During the interview, be honest about your abilities and that you want to learn the trade. You may not land the job, but you may gain a referral to a mentor or offered an apprenticeship.
  8. Apply at a staffing agency. Companies reach out to agencies to fill short-term or entry-level positions. You may be able to start in an entry-level position surrounded by master craftsmen. Your coworkers can become your network or a possible job coach.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you really want to learn a trade or improve your skill sets, you need to get creative and be persistent.

If you want to learn a skilled trade or expand your current skill set, you are going to have to think outside the box. Get creative and reach out to people around you who can lead you to your job coach. Ultimately, any time you spend seeking and working with a mentor will increase your value and earning potential. It’s an investment in your future.


The Bright Side of Job Hopping

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Your family may criticize your decision to change jobs again. They say, “Nobody will hire you if you keep quitting.”

And while there may be some truth there, the job climate is changing. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, more than half of employers have hired a job hopper, and almost one-third expect it. If you do it the right way, changing jobs frequently can be a strength, not a weakness.  

Before you start looking for the next gig, you should know companies want their employees to be loyal. Employers have to make the investment of training you worthwhile. Most recruiters look for at least two years in your current position on your resume, because it typically takes that long for you to learn and become competent in your role. If you leave within a year or less, you may not have learned the full skill set of the trade. Recruiters also review the gaps in your employment history, and too long of gaps or too many can be off-putting to employers.

Applicants today are looking to increase their skills and knowledge. If your current position doesn’t offer room for growth, looking for a new opportunity will be very appealing. If you leave your company to seek new challenges keep a good reputation with your team. You may need the reference. Former managers and coworkers are great networking connections. New employers may contact your previous facility to verify skills and dates worked. Keep that relationship friendly.

When you go after your new path, sell yourself during the interview. Past generations have viewed longevity on the job as a strength, and you may encounter that mindset. You need to prove why your history is an asset to a new company.  Here are some key points to demonstrate your value during the interview:

  1. Adaptable – you’ve had to learn how to fit into different teams and cultures.
  2. Quick learner – you catch on and can perform tasks with little supervision early on.
  3. Contacts – you have met many people in your career and still have a good rapport with them.
  4. Networking – you excel at this skill as you have used it to find greater opportunities over the years.
  5. Top performer – you challenge yourself to work harder each day which earns admiration.
  6. Knowledge of competitors – you have worked for others in the industry and have inside knowledge of procedures, challenges and strategies they use.
  7. Diverse background – you’ve gained skills and experience in a short period which makes you an asset.
  8. Displays talents – you aren’t afraid to show what you know and how you can help improve team performance.
  9. Transferable skills – you have a diverse skill set which you can apply to any industry.
  10. More info and resources – your experience with competitors gives you access to resources and knowledge from a unique perspective.
  11. Competitive – changing jobs allows you to keep competing when you have mastered a position.
  12. Like to learn – you seek out new skills, techniques and training.
  13. Build resume – you aren’t just looking for better pay; you are looking for new challenges and skills to improve your resume.

If you have a history of changing occupations regularly, or you are considering a job change, do it for the right reasons. If you are simply looking for better pay, you may end up with a post you hate. If you are bored with your current situation and need motivation, consider these points before putting in your notice:

  1. Will this help build my resume?
  2. Does this new opportunity push me to grow and achieve?
  3. What new skills will I gain?
  4. How will this improve my experience and knowledge?
  5. Will this job keep me sharp and competitive in the market?
  6. Is the culture better? Will I enjoy working with the new team?
  7. What new challenge does this provide?

Answering these questions will help you determine your motive in leaving your current job. If you are moving on for the right reasons, you will find enriching experiences which make you a better employee. However, if you are only seeking a temporary fix, you will forever be hopping from job to job. Define your goal then make the choices to get there. You are in control of your destiny. You can land the job of your dreams by making smart, strategic moves.