According to a recent article from the AGC, although unemployment continues to be very low, we should encourage students to consider the option of a trade career.  This is because trade careers provide income to students who work while learning their trades. After three-to-five years of study, wages for a newly-minted carpenter, electrician, or plumber are often higher than those for recipients of four-year college degrees.  Moreover, online and partially-online college programs now allow someone to earn his degree for an affordable price.  The degree, coupled with work experience in the trades, raises the demand for such a construction worker, and provides with many additional opportunities that may have otherwise been closed to him.

Having specialized in Construction Management staffing for over twenty-five years, I know that if I were to conduct a survey to determine who are the most valued and respected superintendents and project managers in the industry, most would likely have been working in trades in their early careers.  This is because these jobs would have provided them with the ability to challenge and discipline themselves in higher education while also connecting with older staff in the industry, who mentored them with the tough love they needed to attain the positions they have today.  By “tough love”, I mean that they were required to take responsibility for their actions and statements through verbal and written communication, as well as action.

We hear a lot today about emotional intelligence. 

Daniel Goldman, author of the top selling book Emotional Intelligence, explains how the five characteristics of E.I. can be more valuable for an employee than a genius IQ. The characteristics to which he refers are:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to understand your emotions.
  • Self-regulation: The ability to control your behavior, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals.
  • Motivation: The reason or reasons you act or behave in a particular way.  In this case, having good reasons for your general desire or willingness to do something.
  • Empathy: Your ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
  • Social skills: The skills you use to communicate and interact with others, verbally and through body language and appearance.

As time progresses, a person’s emotional intelligence is what will make or break his chances of a stable, advancing, career within our industry. Proven longevity, along with experience working for well-regarded companies are driving factors to catching a professional hiring manager’s attention.  Even when things become difficult, you will grow professionally and personally if you persevere. Moreover, the better person you become, the better person you will attract.

Candidates that are offered positions with the most revered companies in our industry have not only merely the building capabilities, but also the five characteristics of emotional intelligence.  The same typically holds true for the leadership teams of these businesses. We call this Boots to Boardroom.

The top professionals are usually attracted to benefits aside from top pay. 

They are seeking to work for companies and people who believe in continued training in the workplace, and who regard construction as a team sport.  Much like the top players in professional sports, at some point in their career, they may give up chasing the top-dollar contracts in order to work for the overall competitive team they know will succeed.

Like the teams in professional sports who are yearly reviewing their players’ statistics, commitment and attitude (both on and off the court), construction companies are constantly reviewing their employees’ performance.   Each year we see less and less cronyism within the top companies for whom we staff.  While I don’t know the specific factors diving this, I believe our industry leaders learned that surviving as a business requires ethical leadership and conduct.  Additionally, these yearly reviews ensure employers and employees are properly matched.

Competitive pay is important. Training is imperative, aligning with the right teammates secures your career.

To Your Right Career Match,

Suzanne Breistol


1 Comment
  • Kayode Gregory Edmonds

    I’m interested in learning more about getting certified in construction management.