Welcome New Tradies!

If you’ve completed your trades certificate and are about to start your job search, you’re in the right place.  We’ve outlined our best tips and actionable steps that will make your job search a little easier and lessen the worries that come with starting down the path to gainful trades employment.

Here’s a list of topics you may wish to explore in more depth:

  • Curriculum Vitae and Covering Letter
  • Cleaning up Your Social Media Presence Before Job Search
  • Start Searching for Jobs
  • Getting Selected to Be Part of a Hiring Process
  • Introduction to Recruitment Processes
  • Interviews
  • Types of Interviews
  • Before the Interview
  • During the Interview
  • After the Interview
  • Pre-Employment Drug Testing

Curriculum Vitae and Covering Letter

The very first thing you’re going to need to do is draft a professional looking curriculum vitae and a covering letter template.  Your CV and covering letter will be the documents that will get your foot into the door and land you your first job.

So where should you begin? First, let’s start with your CV.  Every CV should begin with contact information and an objective. Make sure you include your current mobile phone number and email address. A quick side note on email addresses:  An unprofessional or inappropriate email address is not a great way for job seekers to make a positive impression on potential employers.  If you’re email address is anything other than generic ie. janedoe@gmail.com, set up a new one and use it going forward.

Start by writing an objective that states who you are as a trades professional and which position you hope to obtain. Then move on to a personal statement about yourself – keep it succinct and be sure to highlight some of your strengths.

While most CV’s you see continue with work experience, you may need to begin with your Technical & Personal Skills, then move on to Education.  Next, move on to Work History or Volunteer Experience and list any recent part-time/full-time jobs or work study you’ve had.  Try to filter those and include only that which would be relevant to the trade industry you’re interested in.

Next, achievements and Interests.  List any awards you’ve received and leadership positions you’ve held.  Detailing your activity helps to show your personality and qualities, whether you’re motivated, ambitious, a team player, etc.

Finally, you can close your CV with a list of referees.  Employers rely on these references to fact-check what you told them in your CV or during interviews. For this reason, you should be sure to include credible references who can speak highly of you. And, you should let these people know that you are applying for jobs and listing them as references.

Check out this example of a Trades CV.

Covering Letter

A Covering Letter is usually a one-page document sent with your CV to provide additional information on your skills and experience. The letter provides detailed information on your background and why you are qualified for the job you are applying for. You’ll need to tailor this template for every job that you apply for.

Here’s a template you can use to develop your own Covering Letter.

Cleaning up Your Social Media Presence Before Job Search

Now that you’ve prepared a CV and covering letter template, you’re almost ready to begin applying for jobs.  Before you do, you’ll need to prep your social media profiles for scrutiny by a potential hiring managers or recruiters who will make judgements about you based on your online reputation.

  • Google yourself and see what’s out there in the public domain.
  • Polish and clean up your social media accounts. Make them more secure, lock down your privacy settings.
  • Make sure you have an appropriate looking profile photo across all accounts.
  • Delete any of the following posts: those containing photos of you partying, political and religious rants, vulgar and violent language, inappropriate statuses, relationship or personal issues.
  • Set up a professional LinkedIn page and keep it up to date with correct information and upload a professional looking headshot. Start engaging with your industry and connecting with others.
  • Before posting onto your personal social media accounts, be mindful of what you’re sharing and who is going to see it. Internet content lasts forever, and while privacy settings may protect your accounts from some threats, nothing will ever be truly private.
  • If you find that going through all your old Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts is time-consuming, Scrubber is a handy tool that show you any posts that may be a red flag to employers.

Start Searching for Jobs

  • Start looking at online job postings to get a sense of what entry-level positions are out there, who the most notable employers are, and what they say they’re looking for in new recruits.
  • Be selective in which jobs you apply for and make sure you tailor your covering letter to suit each role.
  • Be prepared to get a phone call in relation to any of the jobs you’ve applied for.
  • Make copies of the job ad and your covering letter so that you can refer to it quickly should you get a phone call from an employer.
  • When you are job hunting, it is important to answer your phone in a professional manner at all times. If you are in a loud place and unable to take a call from a potential employer, don’t answer your phone, they’ll leave a message and you can call them back when you’re in a quiet environment, free from disruptions.

Getting Selected to Be Part of a Hiring Process

If an employer or recruiter is interested in getting to know more about you and your trade qualifications, they’ll contact you to discuss their recruitment process.

Once you are selected, you’ll need to prepare yourself for some common candidate experiences such as interviewing, drug & alcohol testing and reference checking.

Introduction to Recruitment Processes

You’re likely to come across a couple types of recruitment processes in your job search, we hope the following information will prepare you.  If you’re applying for a role in a larger, corporate company, like Fletcher Building, for example, you can expect the recruitment process to be more formal & consisting of a multi-step process.  On the flip side, some small businesses have relatively short recruitment processes whereby you may have an interview and reference checking and that’s it. It’s important to remember that you won’t know what type of recruitment process will take place so plan on doing your homework and being well prepared to put your best foot forward & illustrate what you can do.


Your CV has obviously demonstrated your qualifications, skills and experience required for the role you have applied for, but it’s the interview that will usually determine whether you get the job!

The interviewer is now comparing you against other applicants who have a similar `fit’ for the role, and against a Position Description that contains the competencies, skills and experience essential to success in the job.

In answering each question, try to give an answer which will help you out-smart your competition.

Questions are likely to focus on one or more of the following areas:

  • Your skills and experience
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • Your trades qualifications and work history

Use examples, initiatives, recognition and achievements to help support each answer and provide proof that you are able to exercise the competencies being sought.

The following information will help you in getting prepared to give a thorough and positive account of yourself at interview, but first we should take a look at the different types of interview you may encounter:

Types of Interviews

1. The Screening Interview

This is an initial interview designed to determine whether the applicant should be considered more seriously. This interview may take place either in person or by phone and is a technique often used by recruitment consultants, a company’s Human Resource Manager or the business owner.

You must approach a Screening Interview in the same way that you would approach any other style of interview and be ready for answering both general and targeted questions.

Avoid referring to specifics like the pay rate or terms and conditions of employment. This is best left until you have a greater understanding of the role and questions regarding pay arise.

2. The Telephone Interview

Telephone Interviews are common and can arise unexpectedly so be prepared as soon as you have submitted an application for a role. If you do take a call that clearly becomes a screening interview and you are either unprepared or the timing is inconvenient, ask the caller to reschedule the call later the same day. This gives you time to get home and get prepared in the same way you would for a face to face interview.

Telephone Interviews typically last 15-30 minutes and may follow a format that is similar to a face to face interview.

The biggest difficulty faced by candidates being interviewed by phone is not being able to see the interviewer. With all body language signals missing, it can be difficult to ascertain whether your answers are meeting the interviewer’s expectations as you cannot see their reactions to your responses or whether they are displaying positive signs such as taking notes, nodding in agreement, or looking confused or not taking any notes.

To overcome this absence of body language, you should:

  • Check at regular intervals whether your answers have met the interviewer’s expectations, and offer alternative examples
  • Ask for any questions you are unclear about to be repeated or rephrased

This interview may be conducted by a Human Resources Manager, the Business Owner or an external Recruitment Consultant. Responses can be used to `screen’ out applicants or may result in the caller wanting to schedule a face to face meeting so that discussions can continue. As with any type of interview, the key is to be prepared with possible responses regarding your competencies and work experience and to conduct the discussion as you would in any other type of interview.

3. The Traditional Interview

This type of interview has been heavily used in the past but is becoming rapidly outdated.

However, in provincial New Zealand where the majority of employers are small to medium sized businesses with no specific Human Resources person and little or no training in effective interviewing, the traditional interview is widely used and you’ll need to be prepared to be interviewed in this way.

You should also be prepared for the situation where the interviewer is at least as nervous as you are. Many smaller family businesses have very little staff turnover and it may have been years since they last interviewed someone.

This type of interview relies heavily on forming a positive relationship with the applicant and getting to know them on a personal and professional level to ensure `fit’ within the team or organisation.

The interviewer may spend considerable time explaining the role requirements, the previous job holders good and bad points and history of the organisation but gives the applicant minimal time to describe specific skills or experience.

If you find yourself being interviewed in this way, continue to refer to specific examples, including your achievements, to demonstrate your experience and suitability for the job. This will support you in outperforming candidates who only talk in general terms when the interviewer comes to comparing candidates against each other.

4. The Competency Based Interview

Larger, more corporate companies will likely use competency-based interviewing in their recruitment process.  Competency based interviewing is a technique that is used to discover how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations in the past. The logic is that how you behaved in the past will predict how you will behave in the future, i.e., past performance predicts future performance.

There isn’t a difference in the actual format of the job interview, you will still meet with an interviewer and respond to interview questions. The difference is in the type of interview questions that will be asked.

In a competency based interview, an employer has decided what skills are needed in the person they hire and will ask questions to find out if the candidate has those skills. Instead of asking how you would behave, they will ask how you did behave. The interviewer will want an example of how you’ve previously handled a situation, instead of what you might do in the future.

Before the Interview 

  • Know your C.V. back to front. Be prepared to provide further details that will expand on the content. Be ready to give specific examples to support your accountabilities, responsibilities and achievements.
  • At the time you submit an application, start researching the company, visit their website. Know its size, products, services, values, mission statement and culture and customise your responses to questions to accommodate the organisation.
  • The information you gain will show that you have interest, not just in the job, but also in the organisation and that you have taken the initiative to learn about the company.
  • Ask for a job description or role profile, even if one hasn’t been advertised. If there is one, it will provide vital information that you can use when preparing your answers to likely interview questions.
  • If asked to meet for an interview, clarify the names and roles of those conducting the interview and how long the interview is expected to take. Also request information on the format that the interview is likely to take (ie competency based, etc) as well as whether there will be opportunity for asking questions.
  • Research the pay range for the role so you can be prepared for later discussions and possible negotiations. Ask recruitment consultants and trade associations for information.
  • Have a written or typed list of 2-3 referees you can provide on request. This list should include the names, addresses and contact numbers of people you have recently worked for or with and who can comment on your work performance, attitude and motivation.
  • Body language, eye contact, presentation, self-assuredness and confidence in an interview is equally as important as the responses you provide to questions.
  • Plan what you’ll wear – make sure you look professional and wear business attire, such as a shirt and tie or skirt and blouse and professional shoes, is best. Make sure your clothes are neat and wrinkle-free. Be sure that your overall appearance is neat and clean.
  • Review some commonly asked competency-based questions on the internet.
  • Write down considered answers to some typical interview questions and practise using them in an interview situation. You do not want to memorise the answers but you do want to know the key points to bring out in an interview. This will allow you to feel so confident in your interview and so sure of your responses, that you can then concentrate not on what you are saying, but how you are saying it!
  • Plan what you’ll bring – a notepad, pen, extra copies of your CV or trades certificates, list of referees, information you might need to complete an application ie. Driver’s license.
  • Drive to the interview location so that you know where you’re going the day of the interview – take note of where you’re able to park. Plan to arrive 10 minutes early.
  • Watch this short video on how to prepare for a competency based interview.

During the Interview

  • The minute you walk into the building, the interview starts, so ensure you’re polite, professional and positive to everyone you meet.
  • Introduce yourself to everyone in the room, smile, establish eye contact and offer a firm handshake.
  • Posture counts – sit up straight and be aware of nervous gestures such as foot tapping.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal communication.
  • Reign yourself in if you start to ramble.
  • Ask your prepared questions at the end of the interview. Seek assurance this is a place you want to work, a culture you’ll fit into and a place where your work will be valued.
  • If you are not sure how to answer a question, ask for clarification.
  • Most importantly, be yourself.
  • Cover information not discussed or clarify a previous topic — do not ask for information that can be found on the organisation’s website.
  • Find out the next steps in the hiring process & who will make contact with you.

After the Interview

  • Follow up with the hiring manager with an email. Keep it succinct, thank the interviewer for the taking the time speak with you, supply any additional information and express your appreciation for the opportunity.
  • Connect with the hiring manager or interviewer on LinkedIn
  • Alert your references that they might receive a call or email and send them a copy of the job description of every job you apply for. Keep them in the loop on your progress so that they get no surprises.
  • Begin prepping for your next interview.

Pre-Employment Drug & Alcohol Testing

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to higher rates of accident and injury due to worker impairment. Poor judgment and carelessness lead to unnecessary risks, both for the employee who is under the influence, and for others around them.

Workplaces have to provide a safe working environment for their employees. For many jobs drug testing may be necessary if an employee’s ability to do their job can impact on the safety of others.

Pre-employment drug tests are common in the trade industries, so you may be asked to participate in testing as part of a company’s recruitment process.

What does Drug & Alcohol Testing Involve?

The Hiring Manager will let you know if drug testing is part of their recruitment process and will explain the type of test they use, how it works and when you’ll know if you’ve passed or not.

Most workplace drug testing involves urine testing. Urine tests detect a range of prescription and illegal drugs. You will usually give your urine sample in a specially prepared toilet area designed to ensure your privacy while keeping the sample safe from tampering or contamination. This will be done under strictly controlled conditions.  The process can be completed within 10 to 15 minutes, and the sample will typically be sent off to a lab for testing.

It’s recommended that you drink plenty of water in the hour before you’re tested to make sure you don’t have any trouble giving a sample. Urine tests do not measure alcohol, but breath tests can be given at the same time to check for this.

Once you’ve received your results from the tester then there’s nothing further to do. If you fail a drug test, you have the option to dispute the result. If further testing confirms the result, or you accept its findings, then it will most likely result in you not being offered employment.