Blue-Collar Resume and Job Hunting Guide


Secrets to getting and keeping the job you really want!

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ISBN: 978-1-57023-258-9 (13-digit), 1-57023-258-X (10-digit)

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“…Does for blue-collar workers what legions of advice givers have done for white-collar workers for many years – help them succeed as job seekers. In addition to 40 excellent sample resumes, the new guide addresses such issues as best jobs and apprenticeships, marketing and networking, job interviews and offers, salary negotiations and job survival skills.”
–Joyce Lain Kennedy, Tribune Media Services

“From checklists of significant achievements to understanding interviewer notes, any blue-collar worker – or libraries catering to this clientele – will find this an excellent, blue collar-specific pick.”
The Midwest Book Review

By Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds


Welcome to the new world of blue-collar work that is dramatically different from your father’s or grandfather’s blue-collar world. Representing 15 percent of the American workforce, or 22 million people, and occupying over 200 different types of jobs, blue-collar workers include relatively unskilled minimum wage earners to highly skilled individuals making over $100,000 a year.

While the job outlook for this group as a whole is not promising, nonetheless, many blue-collar jobs pay very well and have a bright future. Just call a plumber or electrician or take your car in for repair and you’ll meet a new breed of well compensated blue-collar workers.

So how do you get a great blue-collar job? Anyone can find a job, but finding a really good job is not easy. Above all, it requires key job-finding skills, from identifying what you want to do to writing resumes and preparing for job interviews.

That’s what this unique book is all about – helping blue-collar workers land rewarding jobs they really love. Organizing the job search around a 10-step process, two of America’s leading career experts offer the latest tips on how to organize and implement an effective job search and succeed on the job. Individual chapters address:

  • The new blue-collar economy
  • Key myths, realities, and mistakes
  • Best jobs and apprenticeships
  • Attitudes and motivations
  • Skills and accomplishments
  • Applications, resumes, and letters
  • Marketing and networking
  • Job interviews and offers
  • Salary negotiations
  • Job survival and keeping skills

This complete A-to-Z job search book also includes over 40 examples of blue-collar resumes produced by a talented group of professional resume writers. As you’ll quickly discover, with a well-crafted resume, you have a distinct advantage over the competition. You will be able to tell potential employers your story about what you have done, can do, and will do in the future.

When the employer says “You’re hired!,” it’s in part due to your successful implementation of the many practical tips outlined in this book. 304 pages. 7 x 10. February 2007.


  1. Finding Blue-Collar Jobs in a New Economy
  2. 56 Job Search Myths and Realities
  3. Job Search Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make
  4. America’s Best Jobs
  5. Motivate Yourself With a “Can-Do” Attitude
  6. Tell Memorable Stories About Your Accomplishments
  7. 23 Savvy Strategies for Completing Applications
  8. Writing Effective Resumes and Letters
  9. Resumes and Letters from Career Professionals
  10. Connecting With Employers
  11. Interviewing for Jobs
  12. Negotiating Compensation
  13. Surviving, Keeping, and Transforming Your Job

SPECIAL QUANTITY DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE. See the Product Options box above. Discounts do not include the cost of shipping.

It’s no big secret as many blue-collar workers and recent immigrants in high turnover positions will testify – anyone can find a job. You can always drive a vehicle, rake leaves, move things, or serve people in a variety of ways. You can transition from low paying blue-collar to similar low paying service jobs with relative ease, especially if you focus on the food and retail industries.

Frequent job-hopping is a fact of life for many blue-collar workers who struggle to survive and get ahead in an increasingly skills- and training-driven job market that is unforgiving of individuals who lack basic workplace education, skills, ethics, and initiative.

But finding a really good job, keeping that job, and achieving long-term job security and advancement are other stories given the rapid changes in the U.S. economy, which have negatively affected blue-collar employment.

As many blue-collar workers in the volatile building trades, auto industry, and manufacturing sector know all too well, the job you have today could quickly disappear tomorrow.

Indeed, during the past two decades the decline of once protective unions, which now represent less than 12 percent of American workers, along with large-scale downsizing and off-shoring of jobs are facts of life for millions of laid-off blue-collar workers. In fact, between 1997 and 2006, blue-collar employment in the U.S. declined from 32.8 million to 22 million a 34 percent decrease!

And finding a job you really love – one you do well and enjoy doing – and which has a future does not come easy regardless of whether you are a blue-collar or white-collar worker, a high school dropout or a Ph.D. Finding the right job involves a lot of hard work. Above all, it requires that you get organized for finding a job, from identifying what you want to do to writing resumes and preparing to interview for the job.

And that’s what this book is all about – helping you land a job you’ll really love.

Making Blue-Collar Sense

Approximately 15 percent of the American workforce, or 22 million people, are officially classified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as blue-collar workers.

While the job outlook for this group of workers as a whole is not good, nonetheless, many blue-collar jobs pay very well and have a promising future. If you dont believe us, meet a UPS or FedEx driver, call an electrician or plumber to your house, or take your car in for repair at a local dealership.

Even U.S. postal workers, who are primarily blue-collar workers, are paid well and receive excellent benefits.

We’re talking about a new, smart, and highly skilled blue-collar workforce that has a very promising future in certain occupations. Driven by supply-and-demand market forces rather than the power of traditional union collective bargaining, this workforce challenges many blue-collar stereotypes.

In fact, it’s not unusual to find former white-collar and service workers pursuing well paying blue-collar jobs.

Welcome to the new world of blue-collar work that is dramatically different from your father’s blue-collar world. The blurring of blue-collar and white-collar jobs, as well as reverse movement between the two, argue for a new look at this old class-based distinction.

Today, it may be more appropriate to talk about dead-end jobs versus jobs with a future. As we’ll shortly see in Chapter 4, jobs with a future require increasing levels of education and training rather than traditional higher education degrees.

Indeed, many young people are well advised to skip a traditional college education in favor of vocational training and apprenticeships that lead to jobs and careers in the booming trades. At the same time, many white-collar and service workers, who feel they are in dead-end jobs, are well advised to consider getting retrained for rewarding jobs and careers as highly skilled blue-collar workers.

During the past 30 years, blue-collar workers have become an endangered class of workers who have gone through many employment ups and downs.

Often stereotyped as unskilled manual laborers, with little education, earning relatively low hourly wages and living in blue-collar neighborhoods where unions are active, the blue-collar landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Today’s blue-collar workers require higher levels of education and training.

But many blue-collar jobs continue to be endangered in today’s economy. In June 2005, for example, General Motors announced they would cut 25,000 blue-collar jobs, representing 22 percent of their workforce, by the end of 2008. Ford Motor Company announced a similar downsizing pattern for its blue-collar workforce.

While the American economy went through several good building boom years in the early 21st century, which provided millions of jobs for both unskilled and skilled blue-collar workers and immigrants in the building trades, those days would wane as construction declined with the downturn of real estate and related markets.

Blue-Collar Job Finding

In many respects, finding a blue-collar job is not much different than finding other types of jobs. Only the players, occupations, and industries are different. Indeed, finding a job requires that you:

  1. Understand who you are and what you can offer employers.
  2. Identify jobs related to your interests, skills, and past experience.
  3. Locate prospective employers who would be interested in your qualifications, especially your attitude, work ethics, and ability to learn and follow directions.
  4. Develop strategies for getting employers to invite you to job interviews with special emphasis on networking.
  5. Demonstrate good writing skills, which you will showcase in applications, resumes, and letters.
  6. Persuade employers to hire you based on your strong interview skills.
  7. Negotiate the terms of employment, including salary and benefits.

However, there are a few important differences in the job finding process when you go looking for blue-collar jobs:

  1. Some employers, especially those with high-turnover and low-wage positions, may hire you on the spot with few questions asked and even fewer documents (application, resume, references, tests) required.
  2. Many blue-collar positions may only require that an applicant complete a standard application form as a prerequisite for being considered for a job interview.
  3. Some blue-collar positions require apprenticeships and union membership. Knowing the right people who can influence hiring decisions becomes critical to landing such jobs.
  4. Many blue-collar jobs, especially such high demand trade positions as plumbers, electricians, HVAC service people, auto mechanics, and long-haul truck drivers, often command higher salaries, some in the six figures, than many white-collar jobs.

Show Me Your Resume

At the same time, more and more blue-collar employers expect to receive resumes from applicants in addition to a standard job application form. Indeed, as you will see when you examine the many well-crafted resume examples showcased in Chapters 8 and 9, individuals who produce excellent blue-collar resumes have an important edge over their less savvy competition.

With a well-crafted resume, you can control, to some extent, the information that you want potential employers to receive about you. You can tell your story about:

  1. What you have done
  2. What you can do
  3. What you will do in the future

These are the three most important pieces of information employers need and want on candidates.

When you tell your story through a well-crafted resume, you grab the attention of potential employers who are more likely to invite you to an interview. When you do this, they also are more likely to focus their interview questions around the content of your resume, which gives you an advantage in the interview.

What happens if you don’t have a resume? You’ll do what most other blue-collar job seekers do – complete relatively uninspired application forms about your educational background and work history which primarily address only the first piece of information employers need – what you have done.

Although you may be required to complete an application form, with a resume you can tell a very different story, including what you can do and will do in the future, that should impress an employer far beyond the contents of a very narrowly defined application.

10 Steps to Job Search Success

This book is all about gaining a competitive advantage in today’s job market by organizing a job search around a process that enables you to clearly communicate your qualifications to employers.

While we primarily focus on helping you develop a powerful blue-collar resume, we place that resume within the larger job search context.

Unfortunately, most job seekers put the cart before the horse. They believe finding a job is primarily about completing applications and writing resumes and letters in response to job listings.

While this is a popular way to organize a job search, it’s also the least effective way to get a good job. Writing a resume and responding to job listings should only come after other critical stages in the job search have been completed.

As you will quickly learn, waiting and hoping are not good job search strategies! If you want things to happen, you must make smart moves that should result in job interviews and offers.

Doing first things first when looking for a job involves following a 10-step job search process as outlined on page 7. Each step should be done in sequence.

For example, completing applications and writing resumes and letters should take place only after you have examined your attitudes and motivation (#1), become proactive (#2), select job search approaches (#3), identify your motivated abilities and skills (#4), specify your goals (#5), and conduct research (#6).

After completing your resume and letters, you should be well prepared to network (#8), interview (#9), and negotiate salary (#10).

Step-by-Step Actions

Let’s briefly examine each of the job search steps.

Identify Your Skills and Abilities

What exactly do you do well and enjoy doing? Can you quickly summarize your major accomplishments as evidence of your qualifications and competitive advantage?

This set of job search activities generates a critical language of action verbs and keywords for communicating your qualifications to employers. Here you identify what you do well and enjoy doing – your key strengths centered around an analysis of your accomplishments.

Once you complete this step, you’ll be able to clearly communicate to employers your pattern of performance – skills, abilities, and expected benefits or outcomes. We address this critical step in Chapter 6.

Specify Your Goals

Once you know exactly what you want to do, and you specify your goals in employer-centered terms, you are a long way toward focusing your job search around exactly what you want to do.

You should be able to communicate with enthusiasm your particular passion for work. Employers will know exactly what you want to do for them.

Conduct Research

Research should be ongoing, from the first day to the last day of your job search. It involves learning about companies, employers, jobs, careers, and the job search process.

A good starting point for exploring careers, for example, is the biannual Occupational Outlook Handbook and The O*NET Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

Write and Distribute Resumes and Letters

Resumes and letters don’t get jobs – they advertise you for job interviews. Writing and distributing resumes lie at the heart of any job search.

When done right and in sequence with other job search steps, a powerful resume and letter clearly communicate what you have done, can do, and will do in the future for the employer. They provide evidence of your competitive advantage.


Most job seekers spend a disproportionate amount of time responding to job listings in the advertised job market. However, their time would be better spent on developing and implementing an effective networking campaign centered around the use of the informational interview.

The key to getting a job is knowing how to network for information, advice, and referrals in order to uncover opportunities in the hidden job market. In Chapter 9 we address the whole issue of networking in reference to the larger job search process.


The job interview is the single most important step in the job search process – no interview, no job. However, many job seekers make numerous mistakes relating to the job interview.

We examine the major mistakes in Chapter 10 as well as outline how to improve your interview skills in order to go on to win the job.

Negotiate Salary

Most job seekers make numerous mistakes relating to salary, from prematurely discussing the subject to not knowing what they are really worth in today’s job market.

Chapter 11 focuses on the many mistakes job seekers make relating to salaries. It offers useful tips for improving your salary negotiation skills.

Take Time to Get It Right

How long should it take to complete your job search? That’s always a difficult question to answer because landing a job often seems like selling a house – it can take a day, a week, a month, three months, or six months.

Success depends on your situation, potential buyers in the market, and the amount of time you devote to selling yourself. On average, expect to take several weeks or a few months to complete a well organized job search.

You can shorten your job search time by accelerating various job search activities as outlined in the chart on page 11.

Our chart of job search activities emphasizes the importance of initiating each job search step in sequence. It also emphasizes that many job search activities, such as research and networking, should be ongoing activities.

Indeed, the single most important activity for shortening your job search time will be networking. If you spend 40 to 60 hours a week networking for information, advice, and referrals, you’ll soon be interviewing for real jobs.

However, if you only spend a leisurely five to 10 hours a week networking, expect the number of invitations to job interviews to occur at a much slower pace. The choice is up to you.



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