Competing for Construction Jobs: Start with the Basics

The demand for skilled workers to fill construction jobs is continuing to grow.

Are you in high school or have you just graduated? Maybe you are returning from active duty or are looking to make a career change.

If you are considering joining the construction industry there are basic skills you will need to learn. These basics skills are critical in order to compete for construction jobs.

Curious about which basic skills are needed? The list includes skills that are common throughout the construction industry. There are skills that are unique to specific trades and construction jobs.

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The 3 Foundation Skills to Help You Compete for Construction Jobs Are:

  1. Reading a Tape Measure
  2. Cleaning Up and Operating a Broom
  3. Know the Tools of the Trade

One of the best ways to compete for construction jobs is to learn these basic skills. Skills include being able to read a tape measure as well as learning how to clean up and operate a broom. Believe it or not, the skill of sweeping is something that needs to be learned. Learning to identify and use basic tools including a hammer or tape measure is a vital skill for finding employment in the construction industry.

Successful contractors have a wide range of skills. They build these set of skills over a lifetime. Contractors gather a wide range of experiences which build their skills. As they accumulate these experiences they start to focus on specific trades. Construction careers and businesses develop based on an individual’s ability to master the skills of their trades.

It takes an investment of time for individuals to build a successful construction career. Construction jobs are not a career ladder that can be climbed overnight. You will not be able to just show up and grow up through the company. New members of the industry need to start by mastering the basic skills. These basic skills are the foundation of a successful career in the construction trades.

The number of different uses of buildings is almost endless. Some are homes. Other buildings are used for offices or entertainment. Each building may have a unique use, but every building has common elements. Each building has a foundation. The foundation may be designed differently but the purpose is the same. The foundation anchors the structure to the ground.

Learning the basic skills required for construction jobs will be the anchor that allows you to be able to find a job and build your career. Without these basic but important skills it will be difficult to compete for any of the construction jobs that are on the market.

Knowing these skills will help you show a future employer that you are serious about growing. It will also show them that you can learn and be taught which is important.

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Let’s Look At 3 Basic Skills Needed to Compete for Construction Jobs.

Foundation Skill for Construction Jobs: Reading A Tape Measure

Knowing how to read and use a tape measure is an important skill. Most construction jobs and trades require someone to be able to use a tape measure. It is also an important life skill. Without it you will not be able to do simple tasks that are required to maintain a home.


Construction projects require precise measurements. Cutting grades for excavating requires measuring. Stringing electrical wire and mounting boxes require measurements. Setting up a roof installation requires precise measurements. All construction jobs require the skill of reading a tape measure.

Learning how to read a tape measure is an important life skill that you need to master. It is a skill that is used both personally as well as professionally. Failing to know this important skill can limit your ability to grow and take on more responsibility in your job. It will be a major limiting factor in your earning potential if you do not have this important skill.

Foundation Skill for Construction Jobs: Cleaning Up and Using a Broom

Construction sites are required to be kept clean and orderly. OSHA requires employers to provide a safe work site for their employees. A construction site that is a mess with trash everywhere is not a safe work site. Sites that are not kept up can be a source of injuries.

Sites that are unclean are also unproductive and unprofitable. When contractors have to stop and move trash out of their way they are losing money. If dirt and debris is blowing across newly finished work it can have an impact on the quality of work done. Disorganization leads to a loss of profit for companies.

Learning how to use a broom properly is an important skill that you can be learn to help yourself get one of many construction jobs. This is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. A broom is a tool. As with any other tool there are best practices for using it correctly. And there are ways not to use it.

The right way to use a broom is to sweep the dust and debris to a central point. Once at this central point the debris can be collected and disposed of. The broom is not meant to create a dust storm. It is a tool for collection. Use it correctly and the construction site operations improve. Use it incorrectly and you can create more problems on the site.

Learning how to use a broom properly will allow you to master a basic foundation skill for most construction jobs. For construction employees just entering the industry this can be a great opportunity. If you find yourself at a point at any time during the day where you do not have something to do you should start cleaning up. Don’t stand still. There is always something that can be cleaned up or organized.

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Foundation Skill for Construction Jobs: Know the Tools of the Trade

As a new member of the construction industry, you are at the starting point. You are not expected to know much. But you are expected to start learning immediately. Different construction jobs require different tools of the trade to complete the scopes of work. Are you looking for early success in your career? Early success for in your new job is based on learning the tools of the trade as quickly as possible.

Supervisors will typically ask the newest members of their teams to go get tools. Superintendents and foremen are busy working on specific details of their projects. Similar to a surgeon who is asking for a specific tool, these managers will be focused on their details and will ask for someone to get them a tool from their truck. Success for you as a new industry member will be based in part on learning what their supervisors are looking for. Learn to anticipate their requests and be ready with the tools they need to get their work done.

Construction jobs require learning the tools of the trade. Those who are looking to be successful can start by asking a lot of questions and listening to the answers. Talk with your supervisor or foreman while you are traveling to the job site.

Successfully learning the tools of the trade requires you to practice your listening skills. For most people, listening is a weakness. Ask your questions, but focus on the answer that is being given. And if you do not understand an answer, ask a follow-up question. Find out what the tool is called and if there are any nicknames for the tool. Learn when and where the tools are used.

Additional knowledge can be developed by watching online tutorials about specific tools. Search the tools on the internet. Also, you can go to stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot and walk through the tool section. Hardware stores such as ACE Hardware are great resources for new employees in the construction industry to learn more about the tools of their trade.

Success in Competing for Construction Jobs

Early success in construction is based on learning the basic skills that are the foundation to specific  trades. Construction is a challenging industry. It changes on a consistent basis. There are a lot of skills to learn. And it is difficult to know which skills to learn first.

The most important thing is for you as a new member is not to wait for someone to teach you these skills. Begin by starting to learn on your own. There are resources available that can help build your skills in your chosen construction career.

A great resource for anyone interested in competing for construction jobs and growing their construction career is a free learning account on Construct-Ed. Take advantage of resources such as Construct-Ed to help you learn and grow. Your success in your construction job is based on your learning these and other skills related to your job.

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