Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Hunt

I had a conversation with a local contractor today who told me some of the things that impressed him about different job candidates. I thought I would pass a few of his comments along in hopes that it might help some of you out pounding the pavement looking for a job. First and foremost, remember that employers hire you based on what you can do for them. They are not philanthropists. With that in mind, spend a little time thinking about what you have to offer an organization so you will be prepared to answer when asked. Try and learn something about the companies you apply to. If you get an interview, you definitely need to learn whatever you can about the company. If they advertise that their employees are NATE Certified, stress your qualifications. Even if you are not yet NATE Certified, graduating from a respected program or passing the ICE exam is a good step in the right direction. Tom (not his real name) is a successful local contractor. He told me a few things he pays attention to. One was persistence and follow through. If someone comes by just once, he figures they are not really interested. He is impressed by students who return a few days after completing an application to inquire. Appearance is huge. Another contractor told me that the way an applicant looks to him is how he assumes they will look to his customers. You need to be clean and neat. Tom told me he remembered one student’s shoes – how shiny they were. The second time he came, his shoes were just as shiny. He got the job. He showed persistence and was consistently neat and clean in appearance. Do not wear a shirt with a slogan, witty comment, or add. You can never know what the interviewer will read into it, but why take a chance on creating a bad impression? It is also important to be dressed appropriately. Don’t show up in a three piece suit to apply for a job as a service technician. They may assume you are afraid to get dirty. It also helps to know your stuff. A student recently applied for a job and they gave him a test. He told me he knew he did terrible and wished he had studied before going to the interview. Later when I inquired, the contractor told me they had never had anyone score as high as he did. He got the job. More contractors are administering their own in-house tests. Don’t be surprised if they ask you to take a test. If you have studied HVACR at school, tests are your best friend – they give you a competitive advantage. Last, you need to have an upbeat, positive, can-do attitude. Remember, people often hire people they can get along with. After all, they are going to be around you a lot. Do not put down your previous employer. What the interviewer hears is you are a whiner and complainer. Do not put down your school, fellow students, or the instructors. If you successfully convince the interviewer that the school you attended is bogus, then why should they be talking to you? Definitely do not offer any current political or religious inspiration. I had a student lose a job over a comment about Ronald Reagan. Tell your beer drinking buddies what an idiot the president is, not your employer. Finally, when preparing for applications and interviews, think about who you would hire, then be that person. 

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