Bernadette Alejo's decades-long career in hospitality ground to a halt when the Cliff House, a San Francisco landmark that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, was shut down.
"I never imagined doing anything else, so when COVID happened, I thought, 'Oh crap, what am I going to do?'" Alejo said, stressing her need for a paycheck when the most generous wave of enhanced unemployment benefits ended last September.
After a brief stint working for minimum wage at Costco ("my favorite store"), she found a temporary job in the housing department at Stanford University, scheduling and planning maintenance work for residential departments.
While Alejo wants to work in hospitality again, she's discovered her skills are highly transferable to other sectors, including maintenance. And the timing is right: After a tough year in which thousands of maintenance and repair workers were laid off or furloughed, the occupation is bouncing back. Employers around the country are short-staffed and desperate for qualified employees. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development calls general maintenance and repair work an occupation with good pay and openings
While most maintenance workers fix up real estate, there are comparable jobs in manufacturing, government agencies, schools, and health care facilities. With abundant openings and solid pay, maintenance work is an excellent occupation. Here are four jobs that could serve as an entry point.
4 maintenance jobs women can get now
- Maintenance worker. Maintenance workers are called upon for routine tasks and fixing common mechanical breakdowns. They may do so for apartment buildings, warehouses, hospitals, or several other personal residences and businesses. Be careful because maintenance workers have one of the highest rates of injury, including electrical shocks, falls, cuts, and bruises. At a rough median of $20 an hour, the pay for this occupation is high.
- Maintenance technician. This is a more technical job than the maintenance worker role. Maintenance technicians are masters at diagnosing a problem. They can use computers and other devices to understand what went wrong. Some technicians are trained in fixing the problem, while others may need to kick it over to a mechanic to finish the job. This role is highly skilled, pays well, and may require an extended apprenticeship.
- Maintenance mechanic. This role is quite similar to a maintenance technician, the main difference being a mechanic is equipped to diagnose and fix specific mechanical problems. That said, these titles are pretty similar and may be used interchangeably. Salary varies greatly based on geographic location and skill level.
- Facilities maintenance manager. Managerial roles in maintenance are a major step up in terms of salary and responsibilities. Managers oversee the entire maintenance operation of an organization or building, so leadership, management and organizational skills are critical. This could be a great entry point for someone who has worked at a high level in administration and possesses impressive technical knowledge.
How to write a maintenance resume
Now you're ready to write your resume. There are three different resume 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're starting a new career in maintenance or took a significant break, you should consider using the functional resume format. This format allows you to put your skills at the top, where you can showcase your transferable skills, such as problem-solving, flexibility, attention to detail and technical abilities involving specific equipment and machinery.
Here's an example of what a functional maintenance resume might look like:
Combination resume format: Perfect when you want to put equal emphasis on your skills and work experience
The combination resume format highlights your skills alongside your work history, giving them equal weight. This is perfect if you have transferable skills as well as some relevant workplace experience. Showcase your transferable skills — like problem-solving ability and technical knowledge — alongside a chronological work history that suggests you'll be prepared for a career in maintenance.
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 format is the gold standard when you can show a solid career progression. If you've worked in maintenance for years and this job would be the next step on your path, the chronological resume is right for you.
Here's an example of what a chronological resume might look like:
How to explain employment gaps on a maintenance resume
Employment gaps won't cause you much trouble in finding a maintenance job. For one, the nature of the work can be seasonal. There's a decent amount of turnover. Plus, due to pandemic closures, millions across the U.S. were laid off or furloughed.
When you have to explain a gap, you can always say you took time away from work for personal reasons or to care for a family member (as long as you're being honest). Alternatively, you may want to highlight the ways your gaps weren't really gaps at all — you stayed busy and picked up relevant skills along the way. You could mention:
- Basic technical skills you learned around your house or apartment. Such knowledge is directly relevant to maintenance, and often respected by employers as long as you can back it up.
- Gigs you picked up on apps like TaskRabbit should be mentioned on your resume or in the interview. Explain how you used maintenance-related skills in each job.
- Any volunteering you did in the maintenance sector, whether helping a friend fix their sink or participating in your city's volunteer network, is a wonderful way to fill your employment gaps.
Find a maintenance job with a flexible schedule
Maintenance is not the best sector for flexible scheduling. Many general maintenance and repair workers work full time, including evenings or weekends. Some must be on call for emergency repairs. That said, you can search job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor for terms like "part time" and "offers flexible hours" to see if there are any positions that meet your needs.
In the end, with the unique challenges women face in landing a job, you'll want to find an employer who understands your needs and is willing to address them. Putting together an attractive resume that highlights your most salient transferable skills is the first step of a successful job search.