Timely tips for tradespeople looking for work

In the past couple of years, consumer trends shifted toward eco-friendly or green living. People turned to recycling and reusing items, planting gardens and coming up with creative ways to keep plastic containers and old computer equipment out of landfills.

These days, rather than buying new items, more people make, fix and build things with their hands.

The timing is perfect.

Soon after American households started going green, the economic recession motivated many families to decrease their household budgets. They cut costs by reclaiming or repurposing old furniture, fabrics, wood and other materials. They also delayed unnecessary home improvements, car maintenance and equipment repairs.

Here’s something to consider: Lots of dedicated craftspeople, mechanics and handymen and women have been recycling, reusing and repairing items for a long time. These individuals gained valuable, hands-on skills (such as building homes, plumbing pipes, installing wiring systems, cleaning carpets and overhauling transmissions), and used them to feed their families while supporting our economy.

The green trend hit some tradesmen and women directly in the wallet. It modified their customers’ spending habits. Then the recession pulled back on their cash flow. Also, in the years before environmentally friendly light bulbs and cost-cutting, do-it-yourself repairs, a subtle yet important societal transformation started to take place.

Many people stopped making things with their hands. Instead of finding themselves in practical, roll-up-your-sleeves jobs, career-minded professionals pursued less tangible but more lucrative skill sets in finance, business and marketing. Our communities filled up with more lawyers and fewer furniture makers.

I’m not trying to pinpoint the reasons for this change, or present a philosophical argument about the effect of industry on our society. No way. I’d rather reach out to laborers and craftspeople (undoubtedly some of the most skillful, clever and essential people in the job market), and help them overcome some of the obstacles they face.

The majority of skilled professionals own (or work for) small businesses. Others rely on contract positions to cover the bills. Because of these facts — and the above-mentioned pressures on their careers — many of our hardworking neighbors need assistance finding jobs. Check out this advice:

If you work in a labor-intensive field, enhance your job search by increasing your flexibility. Former business owners may consider taking a position with another company. Laid-off employees might actively seek out independent contract projects. At the same time, keep your eyes open for opportunities with architectural firms, nonprofit organizations, chain stores and corporations.

Spread the word about your availability through networking. Attend trade shows and association meetings. Join the chamber of commerce. Talk about your experience with friends, neighbors, doctors, retail associates and everyone else you know. Referral sources may surprise you.

Eve Nicholas: Eve.GetAJob@gmail.com.

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