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Thread: Advice

  1. #1
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    Advice

    Need some career advice on how I might want to approach new employment and perhaps what an employer thinks or is thinking.

    I want to stick with commercial HVAC and do not want to get into residential.

    Being that I have less than 5 years experience which seems to be the number that was pulled out of thin air to definitely
    make one more qualified than someone else with 4 years experience, I need to devise a plan to get interviews with every
    place that has an opening. Should I bother taking the NATE exam? It was well worth it to study for the exam, but is this
    going to make an employer think I am best suited for residential? At this point, I'm wondering if it would at least help me get
    the interview even for commercial openings as they would at least know I took the time to study, learn and pass the exam,
    which is not easy, and have a solid understanding of HVAC and electrical (it may be easy for some of you guys here, but you're the exceptions, trust me!)
    I don't think it could hurt to take it and have it on a resume but I'm wondering if it can help get interviews?

  2. #2
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    My advice to you is to gather up all your working history, be it high school shop classes, college classes, military service, and all jobs related to the mechanical fields, including all diplomas, awards, etc. Then find a quiet spot and put together the best resume you can. Write it, and re-write it, until you are satisfied it does you justice, in telling your work history story. When you think it is good, make 10 or 15 copies, and place each one in a manila mailing envelope, along with a letter of introduction, which you will complete when you decide which company shall get a copy. Never waste your time sending a resume to a Joe blow, fly by night, small time A/C shop. Those kind of jobs are good to get experience, but not for your dream job, that will carry you into retirement. You say you want to work commercial a/c, so zero in on all the city, county, state, federal, gas and electric companies, hospitals, etc. In other words, large well established companies that offer a good wage, good retirement, paid heath care, paid dental, holidays, sick leave, vacation, job related schooling reimbursement, trade classes and seminars, paid for by your employer, free laundered uniforms, boots, and all the safety gear and tools, needed to do your job, at no cost to you. Most all of these places will have a union, which is good, but all the civil service unions i have belonged to are just puppets, with no retirement pensions in the end, but you pay no initiation fee, and dues are cheap enough. Also, keep in mind that these companies require you to take a background check, including criminal and traffic records. If you have a bad driving, or criminal record, you may be rejected, so, clean it up prior to the interview if possible. Example: The company i retired from had a no drivers license, no job policy, and they checked motor vehicle records 3 or 4 times a year. Loose your licence, loose your job, as it was part of your job description to be able to operate the company truck. If you have any more specific questions, post them. Good Luck

  3. #3
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    In my experience, employers are not looking at any NATE certificates. They are looking for on the job experience. That might change if there is an HR department that screens resumes. Since I am not politically correct, I don't play well with HR personnel, so I wouldn't be looking at most employers who would have an HR department.

    I think to the point resumes work better, mainly because they are a faster read, and especially today people are not into reading long drawn out stories. But I'm sure there are those that will have other opinions.

    You want to give them enough to want to ask more questions. My last resume was something like this:

    "1/4 to 100 tons A/C and refrigeration. Ultra low temp refrigeration to comfort A/C. Prior experience 80% emergency service, 15% installs, 5% PM's."

    Then there was probably a tiny bit more, like "Commercial, industrial, and institutional with no residential experience".

    Don't want to get too much into the minutia. Gotta leave something to talk about during the interview.

  4. #4
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    A big question I have is, in my cover letter, how do I say I know more than they think I know given my experience without sounding like a douche that's full of himself?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBeerme View Post
    In my experience, employers are not looking at any NATE certificates. They are looking for on the job experience.
    I don't understand why, we all know experience doesn't equal much, you said you were paid like a journeyman after 18 months out of school, that's not much experience. So far, I have done the Nate Core, ready to test this week, and doing the AC/Heatpump as I type this. I've seen what guys with experience know, and most don't know what's in these books.I remember working with someone 2 weeks back, and his phone rang, after he hung up he said his old helper called him about ohming out a compressor, and said he must have told the guy 5 times already but he still calls to ask how, I'm certain his experience exceeds mine by quite a few years but I know how to do that, yet an employer would see his experience and say ah, this guy must know what he is doing..

    When I used to hire programers on a freelancer site, they all said they have tons of experience and were all guru's, most of them were full of s*** and I would test everyone to weed out people and often found gems at a lower rate because they had less feedback and history on the website I posted jobs too.

  6. #6
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    A written recommendation(s) from a prior co-worker(s) might be one indirect way.

    A more direct way might be saying something like 'good problem solver', or 'enjoy rising to new challenges'. Gotta be sort of careful with those types of phrases because they are not really specific, rather more like fluff.


    Quote Originally Posted by psehunter View Post
    A big question I have is, in my cover letter, how do I say I know more than they think I know given my experience without sounding like a douche that's full of himself?

  7. Likes psehunter liked this post
  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBeerme View Post
    A written recommendation(s) from a prior co-worker(s) might be one indirect way.

    A more direct way might be saying something like 'good problem solver', or 'enjoy rising to new challenges'. Gotta be sort of careful with those types of phrases because they are not really specific, rather more like fluff.
    Not a bad idea on the letter.

  9. #8
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    It's difficult to say.

    Just as all techs are different, all employers are also a bit different.

    Back in the seventies when I graduated high school, one of the things they told us to put on the resume was "Reason for leaving" prior jobs. Mainly because that's something that is awkward to ask in an interview. Nothing wrong with saying 'lack of work'. Or in your case, 'large contract never manifested'. You always avoid saying things like 'personality conflicts'.

    Back to your other question about how to show your level of experience, you could say something like 'no problems working unsupervised on service calls'. You gotta be somewhat creative, and not sound arrogant.


    Quote Originally Posted by psehunter View Post
    I don't understand why, we all know experience doesn't equal much, you said you were paid like a journeyman after 18 months out of school, that's not much experience. So far, I have done the Nate Core, ready to test this week, and doing the AC/Heatpump as I type this..I remember working with someone 2 weeks back, and his phone rang, after he hung up he said his old helper called him about ohming out a compressor, and said he must have told the guy 5 times already but he still calls to ask how, I'm certain his experience exceeds mine but I know how to do that...

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBeerme View Post

    Back to your other question about how to show your level of experience, you could say something like 'no problems working unsupervised on service calls'. You gotta be somewhat creative, and not sound arrogant.

    Absolutely, seems to be a fine line and I don't want to cross it.

  11. #10
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    Being a small time shop with no employees I might not be the best person to give advice.

    For me personally I have a different way for looking for work, or at least keeping up with what is available. I would talk to a couple of different supply houses to find out who is really the best in their opinion. Then I would talk to a couple of their techs, get to know the people who make up the company.

    Basically I am interviewing the company first to find out who I want to work for, I am also building up relationships with those who work there giving me a leg up past the HR dept. Resumes are fine, but like something else, everyone has one. Besides you are trying to find a place to stay, so make sure it is a good place. Those places that are really good, will always make room for someone who they find is worth while.

    As far as NATE goes, in my opinion the certificates themselves aren't that important, BUT you need to be able to show your willingness to LEARN, and you are serious about HVAC/R as a career. Anything you can do to show that will automatically put you a head of those who are just looking for a job.

  12. #11
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    And if you can go back to an employer or co-worker before your previous one. Tell them to keep it brief. Remember, no one has time to read a full page of thick paragraphs.

    I have a written recommendation from every employer I had before getting into this trade.

    With permission, of course, you could include the phone numbers of two persons for reference. They could be part of the written recommendations, or they could be different. Some employers will never call, others will definitely call those references.

    You see, the resume is a whole package.

    A brief summary of your work history. A cover letter [somehow] explaining how you will be an asset to the employer, maybe that you have enjoyed your experiences in the trade so far. A couple of written recommendations. A couple of references with phone numbers [speak with those persons first to be sure it's okay]. All stapled together, now you've got their attention.


    Quote Originally Posted by psehunter View Post
    Not a bad idea on the letter.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baloo2327 View Post
    Being a small time shop with no employees I might not be the best person to give advice.

    For me personally I have a different way for looking for work, or at least keeping up with what is available. I would talk to a couple of different supply houses to find out who is really the best in their opinion. Then I would talk to a couple of their techs, get to know the people who make up the company.

    Basically I am interviewing the company first to find out who I want to work for, I am also building up relationships with those who work there giving me a leg up past the HR dept. Resumes are fine, but like something else, everyone has one. Besides you are trying to find a place to stay, so make sure it is a good place. Those places that are really good, will always make room for someone who they find is worth while.

    As far as NATE goes, in my opinion the certificates themselves aren't that important, BUT you need to be able to show your willingness to LEARN, and you are serious about HVAC/R as a career. Anything you can do to show that will automatically put you a head of those who are just looking for a job.
    I'm not sure I'm in the best position to interview companies, generally, I would think I need more leverage, and while I think I have some, it's nothing that's visible to an employer, I think it may come off a bit weird given my experience or full of himself. I totally agree with you though, but would think someone with more on their resume could get away with that over myself at my stage. So far, I narrowed down what is important to me and looking for an employer that fits the description. I'm not rushing, but I don't want to sit around to long either.

  14. #13
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    Years ago the guy I was looking for had one qualification for who we were looking for at that time.

    You had to be able to change a compressor. Didn't even have to be able to diagnose what or why it failed. Sounds simple, right? You'd be surprised!

    So you might say something like comfortable with compressor change outs, and all other aspects of servicing light commercial HVAC systems.

    Brief, to the point, and gives the prospective employer a base line to work off of.

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