Employers in Delaware’s construction and manufacturing industries look for many of the same characteristics most companies want in a job candidate — a positive attitude, a willingness to learn and a team mentality.
Depending on the job, you also may need specific skill sets to stand out from the rest.
Training & Education
Education requirements differ. Based in Rehoboth Beach, Schell Brothers is a homebuilder whose entry-level jobs include assistant construction managers. “A construction degree is certainly helpful, but not necessary,” says Kelly Borys, director of human resources. A background in construction is also a plus, she adds.
At ShureLine Construction in Kenton and ShureLine Electrical in Smyrna, a degree from a technical trade school is an advantage for candidates applying for craft trades, such as electrician, ironworker, pipefitter and welder, says James E. Berg, chief financial officer.
It helps to have the proper licenses and certifications for specific tasks, such as welding. You might be tested to gauge your experience and prior training. But don’t let the lack of a license or certificate keep you from applying for a job, says John Gooden, president of M. Davis and Sons Inc., a Wilmington-based industrial contractor with three fabrication shops in Delaware and a manufacturing facility in Newark.
“All our trade employees who do not already have their journeyman’s papers will enroll in an apprenticeship program,” he says. During the four-year program, employees work during the day and attend school two evenings a week.
Tools of the Trade
Trade skills are also necessary for specific jobs at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton. There is a
wide range of needs, from mechanics who keep equipment in good shape to brewers to workers who bottle
the spirits line and package bottles, cans and kegs.
The brewery’s equally diverse equipment includes forklifts and high-speed packaging machinery, says Cindy Dunson, vice president of human resources. Experience is an advantage, but you might learn to
use the machinery as you move up the ranks.
Construction has many basic tools, Gooden notes. “For instance, a wrench is a wrench.” But you need specialized training to use equipment such as a new plasma cutting table. “It would be rare to have that know-how upon hiring,” he noted. As a result, the company offers a variety of classes, including sessions on blueprint reading to welding. Class participants can practice on site to prepare for tests.
While you might not need to know construction software as an entry-level employee, you do need a working familiarity with basic software and hardware.
For instance, Schell Brothers uses a smartphone app to manage the construction process. Excel, a spreadsheet program, is a go-to application at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, as is Outlook, an email platform.
Talk the Talk
In your interview, companies want evidence that you’ve done your homework about them. “I believe a student should come prepared to see if the position and the organization is a good fit,” says Eva Gannett, senior HR business consultant, North America at Siemens Healthineers. “They could do research on the organization before coming to the interview. They should be attentive to what they see in any tour of the facility provided to them.”
Similarly, a company might want to know that you understand its “culture.”
Social media will help you learn about that culture, which includes the company mission and the united face that the company presents to its customers and clients. Take Dogfish Head, for instance, which frequently uses the word “off-centered” to describe its products and services.
The company has a highly collaborative spirit. “Individual contributions are a less important attribute to have,” Dunson says. “We all work as teammates.” As a result, expect to demonstrate how you’ve been a team player in the past.
That’s also true at ShureLine. “The members of the crew need to be working on the same page — as a
team — to complete the required tasks safely, on time and within the budget,” Berg says.
Teamwork requires communication skills. “We need to know that a technical person, such as an engineer, can still effectively communicate with someone operating equipment,” Dunson says.
“Our interviews are focused on understanding how the individual handled prior experiences, why they handled situations a certain way, and what learning they gained from that experience,” says Gannett. “Interviews are an important step for both parties to make sure there is a good fit before we begin the employment relationship.”
Communication skills are particularly critical if you interact with people outside the company as part of your job. “There is constant interaction with trade partners and homeowners,” Borys says.
Show up to the interview on time and dressed appropriately. In short, Borys concluded, “always be prepared.”
Other tips for landing a job in construction and manufacturing:
• Ask your school counselor to help you do some practice interviews.
• Research the company so you can talk about it during the interview. Most have websites, so use them to familiarize yourself with products, mission and the names of key employees.
• Share your willingness to follow safety guidelines and rules. Safety comes first.
• Tell your interviewer that you understand that construction is hard work with long hours and potential overtime, and that you are willing to take this on.
• Have a valid driver’s license and be willing to travel to jobs, if needed.