Robots Aren’t Coming for Your Jobs

Have you heard about Industry 4.0? It’s the fourth industrial revolution. The first was about mechanization and happened in the 18th century. The second occurred during the 19th century and centered around electrification. The 20th century saw the third, which was all about computers. Now we’re in the 21st century and smack dab in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution. This revolution is about what are called cyber-physical systems – the convergence of machine and computer. Industry 4.0 is evidenced by automation, robotics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and the ongoing move towards “lights out” manufacturing.

Most of you have heard about Industry 4.0, you just don’t realize it. This is because most of what you’ve heard has been misrepresented. In general, talk about the fourth industrial revolution starts with, “The robots are coming to take our jobs!” Does that ring a bell? I’m here to tell you, that isn’t going to happen.

Industry 4.0

133 million Jobs Expected to be Created

We expect technology (like robots and larger automation processes) to eliminate a lot of jobs around the world. According to a oft-cited study conducted jointly by Hays and Oxford Economics, it can be expected that technology will “cull” 75 million jobs globally by the end of this decade. That’s an undeniably huge number, so why am I saying that the worries about robots taking jobs are being misrepresented? Because an even larger number mentioned in that same study never seems to get the same amount of attention. That number is 133 million, and it’s mentioned in reference to the number of jobs we expect to be CREATED by technology during that same time frame. That’s an almost 2:1 ratio and means that robots and technology are expected to create 100% more jobs than they eliminate worldwide!

Why People are Worried

Why, then, is everybody so worried about robots? In my opinion, it’s mostly because people inherently dislike change. Technology’s biggest benefit to industry (whether manufacturing, finance, retail, etc.) is to move the variable (in most cases, that’s the human element – you) further and further from where machine (mill, lathe, pen, phone call, point of sale, etc.) and material (metal, wood, receipt, service, etc.) meet. This is because that intersection is where errors, inefficiencies, and injuries happen most often. By moving that wild card (you), technology can help deliver better results while simultaneously making jobs safer.

Technology will Change Today’s Jobs

There’s a silver lining – technology is making our human jobs easier, safer, and more secure every day. So, what’s the bad news? It’s that technology will cause those same jobs to change continuously and consistently throughout a career. And that’s not going to change. This is also why a skills gap exists today. We have the jobs. We have the people to fill them. But those people don’t currently possess the skills needed to fill those jobs. The skills gap has led to a hiring shortfall of over 2 million people in American manufacturing alone!

Opportunities for Employers

What does this mean for you? If you’re an employer, it means that your workforce headaches aren’t going away anytime soon. FlexTrades can help with that, if needed. Visit our website to learn more about our manufacturing solutions.

Opportunities for Employees

If you’re an employee, this means that the robots are making more employment opportunities for you than ever before. McKinsey expects somewhere between 75 million and 375 million workers will eventually be “displaced” by technology. The sheer scale of opportunity for career advancement for workers worldwide is mind boggling when you think about it. You just need to keep growing your knowledge and skills, along with the technological advances of your industry, to ensure that you can benefit.

Already in manufacturing or the skilled trades? We could be a good employment option for you! Browse our jobs and bookmark our blog page.

Do you have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Send it to our Writing Team and we’ll try to cover it in a future blog.

Not Home for the Holidays

You don’t have to look hard during this time of year to realize the holidays are upon us. City streets are decorated, store windows are full of gift ideas, and seasonal music is omnipresent. For most of us, even if this isn’t our idea of ’the most wonderful time of the year,’ it’s a time of joy and nostalgia. But there’s a large portion of the population that the rest of us forget about during this season – those who can’t get home. While most are at home, millions of people around the world are working so that we can celebrate.

From flight attendants and emergency workers to our own FlexTrades technicians keeping the wheels of industry turning through seasonal spikes, there are a lot of people missing time with their families. We want all of you in that position to know we appreciate you a lot! But we also realize that all the recognition in the world doesn’t make such a sacrifice any less lonely. Therefore, we turned to our travel-work experts for some tips on how to make sure you don’t feel alone just because you’re spending this holiday away from home.

Holiday Tips for When You’re Away from Home

Communicate

The number one rule of family planning is communication and that goes double for holiday schedules. Once your shift is solidified, the first thing you should do is let your family know. There are a lot of ways to make alternate seasonal plans, but most are not very realistic at the last minute. It sounds simple, but often the best answers are exactly that. If you know you’re going to miss a party or tradition, talk about it asap. You’ll be surprised how creative your family can get.

Decorate

Whether you’re in an office or on the shop floor, you might not be able to go home for the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring some of it to you. Christmas lights, a mini-tree, or a singing reindeer are easy ways to surround yourself with some seasonal items. You can even level-up this step into a simple group activity by involving coworkers or others with a ’project’ such as setting ten minutes aside for everybody to cut out a paper snowflake for their station. Do you have a cherished tree ornament at home? Bring it with you on the road so you’re not leaving all your nostalgia behind. Even wearing a work uniform doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. If you can’t wear that Santa hat or Grinch shirt, try wearing a themed lanyard or safety glasses with decorated frames!

Technology

Technology can be a stressor in life, especially during the holidays, but it can also be a day (or even a season) saver. Video calling and messaging apps, like FaceTime, have already changed the roadwork experience for many FlexTrades technicians. You don’t have to be on the road to also benefit from these technologies though. Even if you’re just missing a New Year’s Eve party for a single shift, using FaceTime and a well-timed break can make sure you’re still there with the people that matter to you when the ball drops. There are lots of other technologies that can help with this too. One that we love is using the group watch function of your favorite streaming platform to share a classic holiday film with your friends and family, no matter where you all are around the globe! Using VR goggle could make it even more exciting but does require a few extra steps.

Redefine Family

Working over the holidays, especially on the road, can be a team effort. It could make sense to celebrate those holidays with your work team. Little things like group caroling competitions or gift exchanges can add a lot of fun to seasonal work. Those little things make it easier to focus on the big stuff too, like making sure your teammates know just how much you appreciate them. Shared appreciation is always a good thing!

Volunteer

Do you feel bad about something you’re missing this season? The best way to feel good is to do good. If you can’t make it home for the holidays, then do something to make where you’re at feel homier. Church groups, charitable associations, and community organizations put a big emphasis on holiday projects, and they can always use extra hands! There are many online platforms, like VolunteerMatch, that make it easy to find opportunities to help, no matter where you find yourself around America. A great side benefit to volunteering for the road warrior crowd is that it doubles as networking for the out-of-towner too. Doing good and meeting good people is a win/win in any season!

Other Ideas

We hope this list gives ideas of how to make the most of this holiday season away from home. If you have other tips, we’d love to hear them! Send them to our Writing Team. We’ll do our best to cover them in future posts.

Do you want to give yourself a gift that keeps on giving all year? Check out our blog page to catch up on other advice about working away from home.

FABTECH is the North American metal fabricating industry’s premier event every year. It is run in partnership by some of the biggest trade associations in the sector. The intent of the show is to bring buyers and sellers into a convenient venue to conduct business, make connections, share ideas, AND learn. The event occurs annually in the US rotating between Chicago, Atlanta, and Las Vegas. An identical event takes place in Mexico annually on a rotation between Monterrey and Mexico City. FABTECH Canada is a biennial event exclusive to Toronto. You can learn more about FABTECH at your convenience. FlexTrades was in Atlanta for the entire event last week. We wanted to share some of our biggest takeaways with you. 

 

Automation 

Lead times were such a giant part of so many conversations at FABTECH 2022 that they almost got their own place on this list. The concern with how to deal with long lead times from suppliers and reduce lead times for customers is one of many primary drivers for the prevalence of automation at FABTECH this year. From reducing injuries to improving workflows to increasing efficiency, it seems most exhibitors and attendees consider a robot or cobot to be at least a partial solution for their problems. Automation of every kind was on abundant display. This great highlight video does a fantastic job of showing you as many of them as possible in 90 seconds! 

 

Sustainability 

It’s no secret that consumer taste is changing. No longer is it enough to deliver the best product or the best price. The market has evolved. Manufacturers still need to deliver on quality and price point, but people buy for the story now too. At least part of that story has become focused on sustainability. Mainly, end users want to know how you’re improving the environment of your facility for employees and how you’re maintaining the environment for your communities and consumers. FABTECH 2022 taught us that producers who don’t already have a focus on sustainability need to develop one quickly or they’ll be left behind. Meanwhile, companies who have been early adopters of processes with an ESG and sustainability focus are already reaping the benefits. 

 

Safety 

We’ve been saying for years that today’s facilities are no longer our fathers factories. The image of the dark, dirty, dangerous facility that news reels from the 50s and 60s accustomed us to are just no longer accurate. That doesn’t mean our current workforce doesn’t want manufacturers to continue to move the line forward regarding safety. Filtration systems to improve air quality, lighting advances to improve visibility, lift assist systems of all kinds, and even drones to inspect confined spaces were evident in displays or conversations at FABTECH this year. This prevalence indicates that an improved safety focus is something that all generations currently represented in the workforce agree upon. COVID protocols and practices brought safety front of mind for all of us (finally), and that’s here to stay. 

 

3D Printing 

Recent studies tell us that a full third of manufacturers are putting additive manufacturing on their short lists for investment. FABTECH 2022 echoed these findings in a big way. Additive was everywhere across this year’s expo. There were new powders to create metals, new machines to layer them, and everything in between. This expo made a point of teaching the industry that additive processes are much more than just 3D printing these days. 

 

Workforce 

The lack of available talent in the skilled trades pipeline to manufacturing was as big a topic as it has been in recent years. That has traditionally been a huge driver for interest in automation. This year, especially among keynote speaker panels, we’ve heard a bigger emphasis placed on the role we play as employers in developing the workforce. These presentations are intended to make deciders across the industry aware that younger employees want the same things previous generations wanted. Millennial and Gen Z jobseekers are just willing to ask for it up front, and they’re capable of doing their own research to know if your competition is offering it. Panelist Will Healy III put it best when he said, “If you’re hiring a welder for $15 base rate and you offer full benefits but McDonalds down the street is hiring people for $15 base rate and full benefits AND a free cheeseburger at lunch – what you’re really competing with is a cheeseburger. You need to think differently and bring more to the table than the competition if you want to win.” 

 

Next FABTECH 

The next FABTECH happens in Mexico this coming March. But we don’t want you to wait until then to see and learn more! If you found this content interesting and informative, we put out new industry content all the time. Check out our YouTube page for yet to be released interviews we captured in Atlanta. You can always follow FlexTrades on your social media platform of choice or check out our blog page to make sure you don’t miss out. And, of course, if you have other ideas for topics you’d like to know more about, or questions for FlexTrades, just send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to cover them in a future article or video.

This year, October 11 marks the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child. The United Nations General Assembly declared this day by adopting Resolution 66/170 in 2011. The intention is to recognize the rights of girls around the world and bring awareness to the unique challenges they face daily. Much progress has been made globally in the last decade but the disparity, between boys and girls, in access to basic human rights is still shocking when you check the numbers. 

How to get involved 

The UN has several suggestions for activists and advocates who want to help the continued advancement of this movement. Among them are to engage government officials, public policy makers, key influencers across industries, and all other stakeholders to make more targeted investments to address inequalities experienced by girls everywhere. Another suggestion they make is to share human interest stories, blogs, and videos of girl change-makers to amplify their impact on others.  

 

You can find more suggestions on UNICEF’s website or check out YouTube for stories about girl influencers such as Malala Yousafzai too. But, as a man in a family of mostly women, I’d like to recognize this day by sharing the story of the girl change-makers in my life with all of you. I hope reading this makes you want to publicly share a story of your own to recognize the powerful girls in your own life and to help grow this movement for them. 

 

My Girls 

I’ve written a blog before about the role my aunts and uncles played in my formation and the way becoming an uncle to my nieces changed my life. But I don’t mention in that article how my nieces have changed my perspective of what girls can do. Now, to be clear, I’m not a misogynistic person and I’ve never been accused of being one. I was raised in a family where my grandma, and then my mother, called most of the shots and it never felt strange or especially progressive to anybody. Many other families like ours were very similar. I learned early and often that all women are deserving of respect.  

 

But growing up on a farm, I was always taught that I should do the “heavy, hard” things to spare my grandmother, mother, sister, and cousins (all girls) from the most physical of tasks. This attitude towards division of labor never seemed particularly biased to me until years after my childhood when my father started to age. As dad got older and his physical capabilities began to erode, I began to realize that he just couldn’t do some of the things I needed him to do anymore. Things came to a head one day when I needed help in the field and my dad couldn’t get out of bed, let alone into a skid steer. Luckily, my youngest niece was available and that became the first day she operated equipment solo. She was 7.

Iani by rocks piled in a skid standing by an ATV

Since then, both of my nieces have learned how to use tools, pick sweetcorn, handle livestock, get the Christmas tree for grandma each year, and many other things I never expected them to need to learn. 

Their abilities have been proven many more times over the years, especially in the last one. Since my dad passed away last October, I rely on them more than ever now. But they never cease to surprise me. Even when my mom’s mailbox was hit recently, they didn’t need me. Instead, they took care of grandma together.

Girls at the beach

Today, I no longer even ask my girls if they can do something. The concept that they can’t has completely left my consideration. Now, I simply ask them if they will do something and then I watch them do it even better than I can. Girls can do that, or so I’ve learned. It stopped surprising me years ago.

I hope you’ve learned more about International Day of the Girl Child, or at least been led to think about it, than you would have without this article. We’ve done blogs on other national and international days that you might like learning more about too. Check them out on our blog page. And, of course, if you have other resume tips or questions just send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to cover them in a future article.

I’m a big advocate for the skilled trades in general, and manufacturing specifically. I spend a lot of time and energy to get in front of the next generation of our workforce at high schools, technical colleges, military reintegration units, and other vocational training programs around America. Whenever I’m lucky enough to be granted access to such a program, I obviously spend some time speaking about the opportunities to work at FlexTrades and passing along the tribal knowledge I’ve picked up over the decades that I’ve found to be critical to success in any industry. But I’m always surprised how much time I spend answering questions about the skilled trades themselves.  

It reinforces to me how poorly those of us within the trades have marketed ourselves over the past half-century. But these questions are also an important reminder for me to remember that people outside of our industries don’t have the knowledge that insiders do. Because of this, it’s important to be able to speak to the basics – especially when talking to younger audiences. With this in mind, I’d like to share 10 of the questions I most commonly get about the trades (and how I answer them) with all of you. 

 

1) I’m not mechanically inclined or into working with my hands. Is there an opportunity for me to work in the skilled trades? 

There is an opportunity in the trades for everyone, regardless of what their natural aptitudes may be. First, being mechanically inclined is important but the continuing development of tools and technology make that less of a necessity every day. To be clear, you’ll still need to use tools to work in a hands-on position. I’m just saying those tools get easier to use well and require less expertise to do so all the time. This means the industry is trying to make itself more welcoming for all skill levels. But let’s say you are one of those people that just isn’t capable of that kind of work. There’s still a home for you in the trades! From sales to HR to project management to design to administration, trades-oriented companies need all the peripheral and support skills that any other company needs. Don’t ever forget that! 

 

2) Do I need to go to college to work in the trades? 

Plain and simple, no. This doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, just that it’s not a requirement. Whether working in construction, agriculture, or manufacturing, I have worked with individuals who followed all possible paths to success. They may look different, but they lead to the same place. If school isn’t for you and you need to get to work, starting in an entry-level position with a company that provides lots of on-the-job training and plentiful advancement opportunities can be a great way to grow your career. If you have a passion for a particular trade or a firm idea of what path into trades work you want to follow, going to the right local vocational program can be a wonderful option to start. Maybe a four-year degree experience is what you want. That doesn’t mean we don’t need you in the trades! Business, communications, engineering, design, and management majors are just a few of the degree paths that are still much in demand at companies across the trades. 

 

3) What is the best program to take to get a job in the trades? 

The best program to take is the one that fits your interests, skills, and schedule the best. That’s the easy answer. The more complex answer is that it depends on where you’re from and where you’re going. This means that the same school can have programs that are much different when it comes to the quality of their training or the quality of their network. The network can be just as important as the training, because even the best training doesn’t do you much good if nobody is trying to hire graduates from your program. You should also keep this thought in mind when considering local demand for talent. If a school has a great welding program but your desired geographical area has few welding or fabrication shops, you may still struggle to get hired even with excellent skills. All of this means the more homework you do before selecting a program, the less hustling you’ll have to do to get hired after completing it. 

 

4) I want to be an entrepreneur and run my own business. How does a goal like that fit in the trades? 

In short, perfectly! There are well over 250,000 manufacturers, and close to 500,000 construction companies, in just the United States. The vast majority (well over 75% in any given year) are considered to be mid- or small-sized companies. More than half of them employ 20 people or less. This means that most companies employing tradespeople are technically small startups owned and operated by entrepreneurs, and most of them came to that place by starting in bottom rung roles not by pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship or significant amounts of venture capital first. All these numbers add up to one inescapable fact, there isn’t an industry that is more inclined to upward mobility or entrepreneurial growth than the skilled trades. 

 

5) I don’t have many tools. How does a person start a skilled trade career without their own tools? 

By working for a company that doesn’t require you to provide them. This may sound simple but that’s because it is. There are barriers to employment in any industry. The expense of tools can be a big one in the trades. But not every company requires you to provide your own and many that do will provide assistance with your purchases. Tools can be a complicator, but the right research can make sure they’re not a deal breaker. 

 

6) I come from a small town without a lot of employment opportunities locally. How do I get started in the skilled trades? 

Maybe you start your own company. Maybe you temporarily relocate to begin your career so you can start building experience. Or maybe you come work for FlexTrades. We have projects all around America where your skills are in demand. Whether you’re just starting your career, or well along your career path, we have opportunities for you. Almost all of our work requires travel, but you’ll never have to permanently relocate, and you can homebase from anywhere across the country. If this sounds like you, check out our available openings now! 

 

7) Is it hard to start a career in the skilled trades? 

No. People interested in starting are very much in demand and there are many ways in which they can begin. Entry level work with a local company, apprenticeship programs through companies or unions, associates degrees from vocational schools, condensed training programs, military service – all these paths can lead you to a successful career in the trades. You just need to pick the one that’s right for you and then stay on it! 

 

8) Are there opportunities to grow my career once I get started in the trades? 

Of course! Just like any company, there are many ways you can job up. Seniority can get you better pay or more responsibility at some companies. Continuing education or ongoing certification can help you advance at others. Experience alone can help push you up the ladder since knowing the ins and outs of a company often gives internal candidates a leg up on the competition when it comes to new openings and advancement opportunities. The only thing that really can hold your career growth back in the skilled trades is your personal ambition or creativity. 

 

9) Will I make as much money as a “white collar” job? 

Most likely? Yes! While top earners in any one trade may not make what top earners in certain “white collar” fields make (think surgeons compared to great welders) when talking about the “average” worker it’s not even close. There is too much variation in annual average and median incomes, based on location, for me to start quoting them now. What I’ll say is that, wherever you live around the US, do a quick internet search using these phrases “median (insert skilled trade of choice, such as Welder) income for (insert your local zip code) compared to other occupations”. I promise your results will be surprising. 

 

10) What trade is most in-demand? 

That answer varies significantly with geography. For example, injection-mold operators are a lot more likely to be in demand somewhere that has many aviation or automotive manufacturers because they do a lot of injection-molding. However, I tend to encourage people to pursue maintenance careers when they know they want to work in the trades but aren’t sure which trade. Why? Because no matter what changes occur with equipment we use or how we use it, somebody will always be needed to troubleshoot, maintain, and repair that equipment. Maintenance is a great trades career for a lot of reasons but job security like that is one of the big ones. 

 

More FAQs 

I hope you found value in this list and that you’re more prepared to advocate for careers in the skilled trades in the future. If you’d like more answers, check out our blog page to see other questions we’ve covered in the past. Got a question or answer of your own to share? We’d love to help you do that! Send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to share them in a future blog.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) occurs in Chicago every two years. It is normally one of the biggest events worldwide in all of manufacturing but, after a 4-year gap due to COVID concerns in 2020, this year was even bigger. IMTS 2022 didn’t just represent a symbolic return to “normal” for our industry or a chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues. Rather, it was a celebration of all we’ve missed in the last couple years AND everything new we get to look forward to in the years to come. FlexTrades was there last week, and we had so many amazing experiences, interactions, and takeaways that we can’t possibly share them all. However, we do have some highlights we want to make sure you didn’t miss. 

By the numbers 

IMTS, even for veteran attendees, is overwhelming. It takes up all McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America, and an entire week of the calendar. The raw size and scale of the venue and exhibits creates a sense of shock and awe for first time attendees. Meanwhile, the sheer number of people creates not just a crowd but an energy that can be felt physically. A great way to start wrapping your mind around IMTS is to begin with the numbers. 

 

  • 2.6 million Square feet of exhibit space utilized by vendors and conferences 
  • 1.3 million Square feet taken up by display booths alone 
  • 86,307 Total individuals who attended at least one day this year 
  • 33 Number of times IMTS has been held in Chicago 
  • 2,000+ Total exhibitors displaying products and solutions 
  • 117 Number of countries with exhibitors or visitors in attendance 
  • 57 million Total weight (in pounds) of equipment and material on display 
  • 9 Number of pavilions featuring displays (each a trade show unto itself) for different specialties 
  • 12 Total conferences occurring during the week 
  • 9 Specialty attractions, including a demo of a JET SUIT! 
  • Countless Number of demonstrations, conversations, and ideas that occurred 

 

By the images 

Words can say a lot about IMTS, but pictures and videos say even more. Here are links to some from the Association of Manufacturing Technology (AMT), the host of IMTS, and FlexTrades. 

 

T-minus two years 

The star of IMTS 2022 was all of us, our excitement to reconnect, and our hunger to tell the stories of our industry like never before. The increase in media and content creators in attendance was noticeable this year. We expect that number to grow even more by the time IMTS 2024 arrives. But we don’t want you to wait years to see and learn more! If you found this content interesting and informative, we put out new industry content all the time. Follow FlexTrades on your social media platform of choice or check out our blog page to make sure you don’t miss out. And, of course, if you have other ideas for topics you’d like to know more about, or questions for FlexTrades, just send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to cover them in a future article or video.  

This week was National Payroll Week which is observed in recognition of all employees and the payroll professionals who pay them. These groups are put together because they collectively handle, report, contribute or otherwise touch 70% of the US Treasury’s annual revenue. Wow! In honor of the week, we asked our accounting department what they think your accounting department wants you to know. We learned 5 big things from them. 

Regularly Review Your Pay Stub 

This is not only to ensure your pay is accurate either. Things to review include other pay items such as deductions and taxes. 

Please be sure to send any updates, changes, or information as soon as possible. There is processing time between when information is received to funds being paid, and this will help ensure timely inclusion in payroll. 

Make Sure to Keep Them Updated 

Please be sure to send any updates, changes or information as soon as possible. There is processing time between when information is received to funds being paid, and this will help ensure timely inclusion in payroll. 

It’s Just Math 

“Accountants aren’t any more qualified than you to divvy up the bill at a restaurant.” Bring a calculator and figure out the tip yourself. You’ve got this. 

Fun Fact 

The most common pay frequency in the U.S. is biweekly, which is used by 37 percent of private businesses. Surprisingly, weekly beats semimonthly as a runner-up at 32 percent. 

More Tips & Tricks 

I hope you found value in this list. If you’d like to learn more about your accounting department, give them a call or email and I bet you’ll be glad you did. If you’d like more lists check out our blog page to see more. Did we miss something about accounting that you’d like to share? We’d love to help you do that! Send to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to share them in a future blog. Stay cool and be safe this summer!

September is International Update Your Resume Month. Most careers require a resume as part of consideration for employment but too often people try to write a resume at the last minute. Since a well-done resume takes time and research to create, the last minute is the worst time for jobseekers to make one. Making this month the perfect reminder to get YOUR resume ready for the next unexpected opportunity to pop up. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you craft a resume that work for you rather than against! 

Honesty is the best policy 

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 1 in 4 hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reviewing a resume but 75% of them have still caught a lie while doing so, leading them to not follow up with that candidate. This means that honesty is your best policy when applying for a job. Not only because it can hold you back but because you’re not setting yourself up for future success even if you do get a call back! 

Proof(reading) is in the pudding 

“You’re not hiring me to write so why does my resume matter?” I hear that all the time from those working more technical roles, like machinists and welders. But, in the era of online applications and telephone interviews, even for the technical trades your resume matters more than ever today. Why? Because a hiring manager sees your resume before they ever see you or your work, making it your best opportunity to put your most (or least) professional foot forward first. Thus, proofing for proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling help subconsciously reflect your strengths like thoroughness, attention to detail, and willingness to take the extra step. 

Be specific and detailed 

If nobody has told you yet, everyone in a hiring position uses resume-reading programs. If your resume is found on an online platform it’s found because it contained certain keywords that were used as search terms. This means that even the right experience can be missed by hiring managers if it’s not being represented by the words and phrases they’re using to search for candidates. How then does a jobseeker succeed? By using this knowledge to their advantage when writing their resume. For example, if you’re a welder looking to highlight your TIG (GTAW) welding experience a quick Google search will show you that kind of welding is searched for most commonly as ‘TIG’ or ‘GTAW’. Therefore, you should make sure to use both terms within your resume and you should avoid other punctuation marks like hyphens or backslashes. If you do so, more eyeballs will see your resume, and you’ll get more interview requests and job offers as a result. 

References: Professional vs Personal 

When asked to provide references most of us generally submit the people that know us best because they are the ones most likely to say good things about us. But remember, no matter how good, or true, the things your friends and former coworkers have to say about you are it doesn’t make them a professional reference. A truly professional reference is not just somebody that knows you or someone you’ve work with before. Rather it is somebody you’ve worked FOR (shift leads, supervisors, foremen, trainers, etc.) because those are the kind of references that can speak about you as a technician, person, coworker, AND employee. When you have a reference like that to make sure you have good contact information for them and give them a heads up you’ve used them as a reference. This last part is important. Make sure they reliably respond to outreach, because even the best reference in the world doesn’t do you any good if they don’t answer when called. 

 

I hope these tips encourage you to update your own resume and, hopefully, make doing so a little easier. If you’d like to find other ways to celebrate International Update Your Resume Day, there are many more options on the web. We’ve done blogs on other topics jobseekers might find helpful, interview tips. Check them out on our blog page. And, of course, if you have other resume tips or questions just send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to cover them in a future article. 

National Grief Awareness Day is August 30 this year. It began almost a decade ago. The intention of this day (and National Grief Awareness Month throughout all of September) is to raise overall awareness of the many ways those affected by grief cope with loss, provide resources to those going through personal losses, and to remind us all the importance of supporting people we know to be grieving. Like many silent struggles, there are many tools available to the individual experiencing grief but there is often a stigma associated with needing or using them. To try and reduce the stigma around conversations about grief, I’d like to talk to you about my personal experience using one of the tools available to millions of Americans attempting to manage their grief – their EAP (Employee Assistance Program). 

What is Grief? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, grief is a strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion for people, regardless of whether their sadness stems from the loss of a loved one or from a terminal diagnosis they or someone they love have received. The feelings associated with grief can vary greatly from person to person and so can how long it most strongly affects people. People can also use a wide range of tools to cope with grief, both internal and external. If you’re uncertain about whether your grieving process is normal, consult your health care professional. Outside help is sometimes beneficial to people trying to recover and adjust to a death or diagnosis of a terminal illness. 

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? 

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance. EAPs traditionally have assisted workers with issues like alcohol or substance misuse; however, most now cover a broad range of issues such as child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems, wellness matters and traumatic events like workplace violence. Programs are delivered at no cost to employees by stand-alone EAP vendors or providers who are part of comprehensive health insurance plans. Services are often delivered via phone, video-based counseling, online chatting, e-mail interactions or face-to-face. 

How do you use an EAP for grief assistance? 

My father died on Halloween of 2021. Dad and I were close and his passing was not peaceful or pleasant. I wouldn’t say I’ve necessarily struggled since losing him, but I can’t pretend I’ve thrived either. Some days I find myself crying in the car for no reason and others I feel like my focus is affected. When I was first reminded that our EAP through FlexTrades had resources for dealing with grief I checked them out online and found them helpful. When another bad day hit me months later, I decided to call and use one of the 3 annual sessions with a trained and licensed councilor which my EAP provides. I was connected and prescreened to make sure I was not in need of emergency assistance then we simply had a conversation. We talked about the things I’ve been feeling and the things many others typically feel in my situation. Then we discussed avenues and alternatives to coping. Finally, we talked about professional service providers in my area and the counselor even was able to provide a list of those I could call in my area that matched my requirements and were covered under my insurance plan. It was easy, non-judgmental, helpful, and surprisingly cathartic.  

Ways to cope 

What I learned from that counseling call was that my, and everyone else’s, experience with grief is unique. There is no right or wrong way to act or feel nor is there a “proper” amount of time for those feelings to last. But there are simple ways you can cope with grief. 

  • Give yourself permission to take as much time as you need to help you move forward through processing your loss. 
  • Surround yourself with caring, supportive people. 
  • Find safe ways and places to express your feelings without hurting yourself or others. 
  • Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Maintain as much of your “normal” routine and schedule as possible. 

Empathetic grief is normal 

Grieving isn’t just for those experiencing loss but for those who care about those who’ve lost. If you are a friend of someone currently experiencing grief don’t be frustrated if you’re struggling to support them. It can be difficult but try to remember these 5 things as a guide. 

  • Be a supportive, caring listener. 
  • Be a “safe friend” accepting your friend’s feelings, even those that are more negative. 
  • Continue to reach out a month or more after the funeral. 
  • Help your friend slow down their decision-making process when making changes following loss. 
  • Let your friend know that it’s ok to not be “normal” yet at work and socializing, regardless of time-frame. 

Recently, one of my streaming services had The Machinist in a list of movies recommended for me to watch next. I’ve seen the movie before and, at least from a critic’s perspective, it’s a fine film. Dark, suspenseful, surprising – it really does check a lot of boxes that normally indicate a great movie. But thinking about the film reminded me that it’s potentially frustrating to watch if you’re a machinist or somebody else working in a shop environment. For those of you who haven’t seen The Machinist yet, I’ll tell you why. 
 

PPE

When was the last time you were in a shop, even a very small one, and didn’t see anyone utilizing their personal protection equipment? For me, it’s been a VERY long time. Having the right PPE is so important we actually published a checklist for technicians. However, you can watch every single shop-scene in this movie and not see a single set of safety glasses or hearing protection. Not even one! Some core scenes in this film are set around injuries that happen, or nearly happen, around production machines. Yet, somehow, nobody chooses to opt for extra PPE, even after they see a coworker gruesomely hurt. I dislike this part of The Machinist the most because it perpetuates a narrative about manufacturing that hasn’t fit the industry appropriately for decades. 
Screenshot of shop with no PPE in sight

Machine Tool Safety

Speaking of those machines, where are the guards? Why so lax on proper procedure? At one point, the main character brings up OSHA workplace standards regarding Lockout/Tagout requirements. Does his supervisor or coworkers appreciate his input? Of course not! Instead, he gets grumbles, snide remarks, and rolled eyes. All because he’s reminding them that there is an industry regulation already in place to prevent exactly the kind of injury that occurs later in the film. First, having spent plenty of time in a shop, I can tell you this attitude is inaccurate. I’ve forgotten LOTO myself a couple times when rushing and, I can promise you, it wasn’t my coworker who was embarrassed when it was brought to my attention. Second, portraying such disregard for such fundamental procedures in a film famed for being “realistic” creates a false sense of accuracy too. This in turn goes on to undermine industry integrity for everyone unfamiliar with production environments. 
 

Environment

The theme of misrepresentation in this movie continues when you consider the physical environment of the shop itself. The Machinist is a dark and dirty movie, so it’s understandable that cinematographers chose to reflect that with the shop set they created. Understandable but sadly still a totally inaccurate representation of most modern machining facilities today. In a post-Kaizen, Six Sigma-focused industry the “standard” shop is now much different. Well lit, well ventilated, and clean is now the norm for everything from the machine to the shop floor. Part of the reason that the skills gap even exists in the trades is because media continues to portray the industry with such dated imagery. 
 

Workforce Attitude 

Another contributor to our current labor supply problem in manufacturing has a lot to do with the perceived attitude of our workforce. People in blue collar roles are commonly shown to be unwelcoming, unhelpful bullies. 

Man motioning decapitation at main character

Members of younger generations entering the workforce today are a product of an education system full of anti-bullying policies and they are unwilling to tolerate the idea of something else in their workplace. Movies like The Machinist add fuel to this fire making potential machinists and fabricators think that all their coworkers will be rude, uncaring jerks just waiting for a chance to retaliate. This is most unfortunate of all the film’s missteps because those of us already working in and around the trades know the opposite to be true. Namely, these aren’t our father’s factories we’re working in or their colleagues we’re working alongside. Rather, machinists today work in facilities using the most modern tools, processes, environments, procedures, AND mentalities. 

That’s why The Machinist is a terrible movie for machinists. If this article still makes you want to watch the film yourself, it’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Whether you’ve seen it already or not, I hope it also makes you watch it differently than you would have otherwise. Our industry needs more thoughtful consideration about how we’re represented and how we represent ourselves. Got another movie you think is terrible (or wonderful) to watch for people in the trades? We’d love to hear about it. Send suggestions to our Writing Team and maybe you’ll hear what we think about it in a future review.