How to nail your CV for construction & roading

New Zealand’s construction and roading industries are booming. This is a great time to enter sectors that offer a huge variety of roles, on the-job-training and career options. 

With lots of room to grow in both sectors, industries like this are a great way to enter the workforce both at entry-level positions or higher up the chain anywhere in New Zealand.

So don your hard hat, slide into a hi-vis vest and get your CV trade-ready.

Target your CV

Whether you have submitted plenty of CVs in the past or are straight out of school, the key to any job application is to tailor your CV and cover letter so they’re as relevant as possible.

Construction and roading both incorporate a wide range of skills and abilities, from quantity surveyors to designers, site managers to health and safety officers, to digger operators, to the person answering the phone at the front desk.

What that means is that targeting your CV is crucial, even if you’re trying to move up the chain within the same sector. 

Equally, if you’re jumping from one trade to another, you’ll have to find a way to make your previous skills and qualifications count. How? Read on.

Be the solution to their problem

If you have a long list of previous experience, that’s great, but angle it in a way that fixes their problem – which is that they need someone to do this specific job. To best market yourself as that person, be sure to include:

  • Only the most relevant hard skills. Are they asking for a heavy vehicle license, experience with specific software, or a tertiary qualification? Make that a priority to include.

  • Leave out past qualifications that do not apply to the position. Your bar manager’s license probably doesn’t need to be in an application for digger driver.

  • On the other hand, if you have previous experience that may transfer well but is not specifically asked for in the job application, mention it in your CV anyway. For instance, great communication skills applies just as well to your new career as a site manager as it did in your past job in a shop.

List your achievements

One of the most challenging parts of any CV is writing about yourself without feeling like you’re showing off. However, listing your achievements can be very important when it comes to demonstrating your suitability for this role. Include:

  • Awards you have won within the industry.

  • Qualifications you’ve gained in the industry or that may be relevant – for example, health and safety or first aid courses are great for any role.

  • Large projects you were part of, as a team member or as a leader.

  • Other work achievements that demonstrate your high standards and skills.

Make it clear that you’re available

Many jobs in the roading and construction industry require working some unusual hours. While most trades operate during daytime hours, there will often be a requirement to be on-call during the night and weekends. Major road works, too, are often completed during the hours of darkness, particularly on state highways, so will require shift work.

In your cover letter and CV, make it clear that you are flexible and able to work the hours as requested in the job advertisement. 

Soft skills count

Soft skills are personal attributes and characteristics, while hard skills are qualifications or being able to operate specific machinery or software. In some roles, particularly entry-level positions that offer on-the-job training, soft skills would be considered more important than hard skills, which can be taught. 

Include the soft skills (such as personality traits and attributes) that will best fit the job and benefit your employer. 

  • Are you applying to be the stop/go person on a highway project? That requires you to be friendly, punctual, very reliable and resilient enough to stand in the heat and rain. 

  • Are you an experienced builder who is looking to become a council inspector? They’ll be looking not only for relevant past qualifications, but someone who is meticulous, thorough and precise.

  • Do you do volunteer work, coach a sports team or do some kind of community work – this always goes a long way in showing off your good character.

  • Hobbies that are similar in some way to the role you’re applying for should be mentioned.

Keep it short, to the point and easy to read

No recruiter in any industry has time to read through a five-page CV listing a complete education and employment history. 

Tailoring your CV and cover letter to specifically address the job at hand is vital. How?

  • Include only relevant experience, qualifications and education history. Start with the most recent and work your way backwards.

  • Only use industry jargon or go into industry specifics if you’re applying for a role that specifically calls for it.

  • Name skills that are asked for in the job advertisement. Only include other skills if they transfer.

  • Keep your cover letter to one page and consider including a copy in the body of the email you send. This gives the recruiter one less file to open.

  • While there’s no need to get a graphic designer involved, formatting your CV so it looks appealing is worth a few minutes of your time. Use larger fonts for headings and sub-headings, bullet points and spacing to break up the text. Unsure? The internet has plenty of examples. Consistency is key.

Check, double check and triple check

Spell check everything – or get someone else to check it - and ensure your contact details are correct. One spelling mistake or an error in your phone number could be the difference between an interview or no interview.