Ingrid Golleher had been a union carpenter for eight years before she parted ways with her employer over the absence of COVID safety protocols in April 2020.
She drove for Lyft to pay bills. But three months later, sick of gig work, she returned to construction.
"I wanted to be outside around people again," the 28-year-old said. "My kind of people."
Her return to pouring concrete came at an opportune time. In April 2021, she learned she was pregnant with her first child. With a baby on the way and a boyfriend who recently lost his job as a pipefitter, her job in construction will help her save money to cover her maternity leave.
Construction has been good to her and many other women who have been able to break into this male-dominated field in recent years.
Construction jobs were among the fastest-growing for women from 2015 to 2019, and their employment in the industry increased by 12% in the last year alone. A possible infusion of government money from President Biden's infrastructure bill would only improve job opportunities in the sector.
While the field has been difficult, sometimes hostile, toward women, with the right strategy, now is the easiest time to find and secure employment in this industry.
Here are four jobs you should check out if you're hoping to get your foot in the door.
4 construction jobs women can get now
- Construction worker. This role helps perform physical labor around the job site. From cleaning the area of debris to operating machinery to assisting craftworkers with their duties, laborers are in charge of unskilled tasks to easily learn the trade on the job. Nearly two million already work in this occupation, and it's expected to grow by 5% until 2029 (faster than average).
- Painter. Another construction role in which no formal education is required, painters are responsible for exactly what you'd expect: painting, staining, and coating walls, ceilings and other surfaces. New construction activity will create a need for painters for years to come.
- Flagger. Flaggers hold signs directing the traffic around a construction site. Local and state governments are often hiring for these positions as they control most highway, street and bridge construction. You are more likely to find these roles in densely populated states like California, Texas, New York and Illinois. You may have to complete online training for the role.
- Carpentry laborer. While you won't land a high-paying carpentry job out of the gate, you can get on that path by finding a carpentry laborer position. Laborers may help with cleaning the job site and assisting the carpenter. Over time, after you learn the tricks of the trade, you could become a full-time carpenter, a profession with a median salary of $49,520 per year (or $23.81 per hour).
How to build a construction resume
When you're ready to write your resume, there are three different formats you'll want to consider:
Functional resume format: Best when you're new to the industry or have significant gaps in employment
If you've never worked in construction, you'll want to consider using a functional resume to foreground your skills. Focus on transferable skills that will be relevant in the new job. Skills may include physical strength, endurance, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, communication, teamwork, and, of course, using power tools or other construction equipment.
Here's an example of what a functional construction resume might look like:
Combination resume format: Perfect when you want to put equal emphasis on your skills and work experience
The combination resume puts your skills and work experience on equal footing. You should highlight the skills most relevant to construction, like using power tools or collaborating with a team to complete a project. Your work history should also show the hiring manager that you've been progressing toward the position you're seeking.
Here's an example of what a combination resume might look like:
Chronological resume format: Great when you can show solid career progression and clear achievements
The chronological resume puts your career progression and job tenure front and center. Use the chronological to show that you've worked in construction for years and see the next job as the logical progression of your career arc.
Here's an example of what a chronological resume might look like:
How to explain career gaps on a construction resume
Many types of construction jobs are seasonal, so you'll never struggle to explain gaps between employment. Additionally, the pandemic led to millions getting laid off or furloughed, and construction wasn't immune to this economic calamity.
Nonetheless, you may want to add some activities to your resume showing you stayed busy. Here are a few things that could come in handy in filling the career gaps on your resume:
- Pure know-how is respected in the construction industry. If you've helped redo a roof, paint a house or remodel a bathroom, add it to the skills section of your resume, or create a section for special projects.
- Volunteering is another way to explain your downtime between jobs. A construction flagger, for example, could volunteer as a crossing guard at a school. Make sure to include any relevant unpaid work on your resume.
- There are plenty of online courses that can help you build construction knowledge to add to your resume. Consider pursuing OSHA training from the Department of Labor (DOL). The construction training course costs $79 and only takes 10 hours. It's a basic requirement to get a job on any public work projects.
Find a construction job with a flexible schedule
Landing a construction job that's right for you begins with job boards. Start your search with the major job boards, then expand out to include industry-specific sites like Construction Jobs, iHireConstruction and Careers in Construction.
If you need a flexible schedule, you're in luck because many types of construction occur around the clock. This means you are more likely to find roles with unusual schedules. Look for words like "flexible schedule" and "set your own hours" in each job description. Keep an eye out for early morning or night shifts if that's what you need. Finally, when you interview, establish your needs clearly and politely. Setting the ground initially and holding your employer to them is key to a successful and mutually respectful relationship.
Then, get a better understanding of their policy in your interview by asking questions like:
- What does the work schedule look like?
- I noticed you mentioned 'flexible schedule' in the job ad. How does that work?
- Is there anything you do to accommodate work-life balance?
Ultimately, considering the unique challenges women face getting back into the workforce, it's not enough to find a job. You have to find a job that works for you and your schedule. Building a resume that's tailored for jobs currently available is a major step in the right direction.