Blue Collar Jobs

Helpful Resources

Looking for work? Struggling to get hired? If you’ve ever wondered how to get a blue collar job in today’s white collar environment, I’m here to help!

blue collar jobs and workers

Blue Collar Jobs

and the people that fill them, are both grossly underrated and undervalued today. Many of these blue-collar jobs keep towns and cities running across the country. Just in case you’re not familiar with this concept, Resources.workable defines blue collar jobs as those involving manual labor and compensated by hourly wage. Some fields that fall into this category include construction, manufacturing, and maintenance. Here’s the problem – blue-collar workers can be at a disadvantage in a white-collar driven society and workforce.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make this an us vs. them thing. Unfortunately, some people in certain industries just haven’t had the opportunity, time, money, and/or resources to keep up with a crazy pace of change. Personally, I have worked in very white-collar environments where business casual attire, fancy coffee cups, clean cubicles, and the latest and greatest laptops are handed out like candy. When you’re making hundreds of millions of dollars as a company, why not?

Over the past seven years of my professional life, I’ve been in blue-collar work environments. While primarily involved in manufacturing (both durable goods and food services), I do have background in warehousing and landscaping environments. What I’ve experienced over the past year is what drove me to create this page and the series of posts associated with it. Week in and week out, I watch as the white-collar management team in a very blue-collar environment chew up and spit out employees. While this is done legally and by the HR book, it really isn’t always fair. Some of those spit out employees never really stood a chance in the first place.

What’s More

is that I’ve overheard comments about how inadequate, under skilled, and unqualified these used and spit out employees are. Reasons range from people not being able to use a computer for the most basic things (e.g., email), to someone not being able to control and express their views in a professional manner. That got me thinking…how many of these blue-collar workers have access to helpful information and resources that could help them avoid getting fired AND help them advance their career?

Yes, websites with resume writing tips and job boards are available. What I haven’t found is information and resources that aim to help with what actually happens when someone is sitting in an interview. Or, what happens when the boss asks you for feedback on how the line is running? I’m a firm believer in that what you say is as important as how you say it. In my manufacturing experience, I can’t tell you how many employees get their ideas and concerns dismissed because of how they communicate. If they were to approach things in a slightly different way, those ideas could go from being dismissed to being implemented…and perhaps the person that had the idea gets rewarded.

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blue collar handyman

Why Do I Care?

Well, my website, retiringby45.com talks a lot about how money works and how people can set themselves up to retire before being too old to enjoy it. What I’ve realized is that so many people are struggling to live day to day and don’ have access to practical tools, ideas, and experience to put them in a position to even start thinking about saving for retirement.

Through this page and a series of posts, I’m going to highlight important steps in the job process – from preparing for an interview to becoming a leader in your environment – and provide firsthand experience, suggestions, and advice on how you can improve your value and earning potential. I can help do this because I lived it. I went from making $7.25/hr to making over $500k per year. Yes, it took time. No, I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t employ some of the ideas I cover below.

Below

are the areas I focus on to help you improve your job situation. This information can be helpful for anyone currently looking for a job as well as for anyone that has a job but wants more out of it. I write from experience on all these topics. I worked as a general warehouse laborer and then worked my way up to running the company. I’ve experienced personal challenges, business dynamics, the interview process, coaching, development, training, legal, HR, and everything else that goes into advancing an individual’s career as well as the company’s goals. I learned things the hard and expensive way over the last two decades. You can skip some of that pain and expense and shorten the time needed to see results.

I will also provide links to resources that I personally use or have used. For example, if you’re a blue-collar worker and not computer savvy, this Chromebook is a great way to ease into the world of technology. Getting familiar with some basics like email, Word documents, and Excel is a great idea and doesn’t take much time. Again, if you’re not familiar with computers or Chromebooks (which is a type of computer), check out Google’s getting started guide here.

As I am all about financial freedom, you’ll find that the items I recommend are also friendly to your wallet. My wife and I have been accused of being too frugal. While I don’t totally agree, I will say that we are very thoughtful on when and how we spend our money.

Blue Collar Jobs Helpful Resources – Areas of Focus

 

Basic Resume Tips –

Personally, I’ve been subjected to a bunch of online tests as part of the interview process. To even make it to the interview process, I had to have a resume that set me apart from the other 100 candidates. In the manufacturing environment, the emphasis on the resumes for incoming candidates isn’t terribly strict, however, a couple basic things get people taken out of the mix right from the start. I’ll cover how to create a basic resume AND how to avoid some common mistakes. In the meantime, check out this portfolio that comes in handy when you land your interview and need to bring a copy of your resume with you.

Interview Prep –

Sure, you can find a bunch of potential interview questions online (here are some examples). As I mentioned, the world is changing. The person you are interviewing with most likely deals with someone that sits in an office most of the day. Going beyond the questions asked, do you know what’s acceptable to wear? Are you comfortable explaining your experience? Do you know how to handle a question you don’t know the answer to? All these things are likely to come up and if you don’t take the time to prepare for what is realistically going to happen, you’ll likely get passed over. Oddly enough, I’m asked quite a bit about what to wear to an interview. Here are a few of my go to items when a suit isn’t required.

    1. Docker’s Straight Fit Pants – great choice when you need to look a little nicer but don’t want to spend big on the suit.
    2. Amazon Essentials Oxford Shirt – tucked in and paired with your khaki Docker’s, you’re looking professional but not over dressed. Something blue looks good with the khakis.
    3. Columbia Belt – this ties the pants and the shirt together.
    4. Socks – It might sound stupid but if you go white, it’s just not right. Pick these up and use the brown pair with this combo.
    5. Clark Shoes – I love Clarks. They are comfortable and stylish but not overdone. You can also use these on date night to show your lady how nicely you clean up.

Interview Questions –

I’ve interviewed many people in my career. When I ask a question, I’m looking for more than just your answer. I’m looking at your body language, listening to the details you provide, and trying to determine how you’ll fit in with the rest of the team. Here’s where I think most people get the interview process wrong. While a good part of the interview is about you and your experience, a key factor is what value does the interviewer think you can provide. How do you communicate your experience and value without coming across as arrogant? Here is a good book on body language.

How To Get Promoted –

you landed the job, good for you! Now, as the months and years pass, how do you not get stuck in the same role without the potential to move up and make more money? In a world of endless metrics and super advanced computer systems, how can you show the leadership team you can deliver more? This one is very interesting to me personally because I see so many people get the mix wrong – someone ends up as being viewed as a suck up vs. being helpful. I’ll dig into some ideas and strategies that will set you apart from the rest.

Building Soft Skills –

This is arguably the most important topic on the list! Blue-collar workers, in my experience, tend to view soft skills as unnecessary or as a sign of weakness. Neither could be further from the truth. Soft skills don’t have to be soft. Personally, one of the best compliments I’ve received in my professional career is when I was told I have an iron fist covered with a velvet glove. I’ll take you through my approach and how to build these softer skills. Believe me when I say that if you can develop these skills, even a little bit, you stand to set yourself apart (in a good, promotable way) from so many people.

Becoming A Leader –

The last manufacturing facility I worked in suffered from a massive turnover rate and had a hell of a time bringing people in to train and retain. In my humble opinion, this happened because the plant was focused on management being focused on leadership. Knowing the difference between these two things is something even the most experienced, and highly paid, executives struggle with. If you know the difference and can use the appropriate approach at the right time, you can be way more successful that your colleagues and promotion competition.

This Cycle

from knowing the basics about a resume to becoming a leader in your environment, isn’t unique to blue-collar jobs. What’s unique about this cycle and information is that it is so under utilized in blue-collar environments. With a little bit of additional knowledge and a slight shift in your mindset, you can use these things to your advantage. When you start doing that, you put yourself in a position to make more money. From there, you can look at getting on a path to retiring before you’re too old to enjoy it!

In addition to the resources and links to posts above, please take advantage of the rest of the information on this site. My goal is to share my experience and viewpoints to help everyone be more comfortable with money concepts, making more money, and saving more money. Being poor sucks (I know). Living paycheck to paycheck adds stress to your life (I know). Not having access to resources that are actually helpful is frustrating (I know). Learn, Earn, and Return to Retiring by 45 to help change your financial future!

Also

in case you are new to this site, please take a second and sign up for my mailing list. When you do, I’ll shoot over a super simple budget template that can get you started with managing your money. I will also provide information on how you can learn more about money concepts and share with you how I made over $500k in a year without having a side gig. Also be sure to follow me on social media. I get that social media isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I update these channels with new posts as they become available.

Like I said, I’m here to help you become more comfortable with money and hopefully make and save more of it!

Stay informed!

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