These days, good mechanics already know they’re needed, but how do you maximize your value in a tight labor market?
Today there’s an absolutely huge demand for well-rounded industrial and production mechanics. But there’s a relatively small supply of qualified mechanics to fill that demand.
“Mechanics are very well aware of the value they bring to a company,” said Aerotek Practice Lead, David Moser. He manages a skilled trades recruiting team in California’s Bay Area.
That’s because mechanics keep all the equipment up and running so everyone else at their workplace can do their jobs. “If a company has 50 employees working on a production line, it can’t afford for that production line to break down,” David said.
We talked to David about five things that every mechanic should know about making the most of their professional value.
1. Opportunities are out there
The heavy demand for mechanics extends far beyond David’s reach in California. It’s nationwide. In 2017 CareerBuilder had a whopping 360,000 postings seeking mechanics, with only 21,600 job candidates available. That’s nearly 17 jobs per candidate.
Due to their remarkably high employment rate, mechanics have lots of options. Many of the candidates that Aerotek works with are already employed but are in search of a new or better opportunity.
It’s not uncommon for mechanics to be looking for additional work, or working a shift you don’t like — or you don’t have an opportunity to advance because the managers above them aren’t going anywhere.
“Some mechanics we work with have been at the same company for seven years,” David said. “They’re working 60 hours a week. They don’t always have time to look for another job.”
Because they’ve worked at the same job for so long, many mechanics might not have an up-to-date resume ready to show potential employers their range of skills. Aerotek can help with that. Look to your recruiter for assistance in putting your work history — and skills — on paper.
2. Education vs. experience, what matters where?
“Experience definitely outweighs education,” David said.
The fact is, most mechanics are learning their craft through on-the-job experience.
“The majority of people we’re looking at didn’t go to school to be a mechanic,” David said. “They got into the trade and worked their way up, and they’ve been there for 20 years or more.”
While work experience is in high demand, some employers are working with local schools to develop talent that’s suited for their specific needs. Schools will adjust their curriculum to the mechanical needs of local companies, ensuring the employability of their students after graduation.
Other companies are willing to pay for their current employees to get more training in an area where they don’t already have expertise.
So how do you get good experience? David David’s advice for mechanics: “Take advantage of as much cross-training as possible in your current position — to get more skills for your next move, even if that’s moving up in the company.”
3. What to consider in a new job
Maintenance and production mechanics are versatile, so you never know what kind of company will need you. When you’re evaluating an opportunity, here are some questions to ask about the job opening to make sure it’s the right fit for you:
Exactly what kind of equipment would you be asked to work on?
What is the working environment like? This is crucial because the industry has such a wide range of working conditions. For example, if your new opportunity is in a food production facility, is it refrigerated? Will you potentially be working in a cleanroom?
Finally, ask about benefits. On top of any training that may be offered, what else is on the table? With the jobs market favoring the job seeker, what are employers offering to attract and retain the best mechanics?
4. What are employers looking for in a mechanic?
Being a well-rounded mechanic is crucially important. “Sometimes a mechanic will have two skills that they’re really good at, but they’ve got little else,” David said. He added that the ideal job candidate has a combination of welding, mechanical and electrical skills.
“Employers also look for good tenure in past positions. It’s huge,” David said. With mechanics playing such a vital role in day-to-day operations, employers want to see that they’re the type who will stick around.
“With other skill sets, five jobs in 10 years can be acceptable. With mechanics, they’re looking for two jobs in 10 years. Tenure shows staying power. ”
5. Be prepared for more than just “shop talk” in the interview
Your typical job interview will likely take place in a more “buttoned-up” environment than a typical mechanic’s workplace, David said.
It’s best to dress well and to come across as “confident but not cocky,” he added.
For applicants, it’s important also to show that you can mesh with the maintenance team that’s already on staff.
“In most shops, teams of mechanics are a pretty close-knit group. They all work together,” David said. “If they’re not going to mesh, then companies won’t move forward.”
Like your job but curious about what else is out there? Now is the time to visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search. Upload your resume and customize your job search based on your skills and interests. Finally, consider contacting an expert career advisor. Our recruiters are available to provide advice that you can use.