Plumbing Jobs 101

People talk about “plumber’s rates,” bemoaning the fact that they make far less. Is that true? Even if it were, would you want this job. It is lucrative, especially if you are self-employed, and your time is your own. So let’s look at a day in the life of a plumber at work.

Seven: up and at ‘em early at six, you are ready to roll. Your first appointment beckons. The man works so you have to get there “on the nose” according to his phone message, “otherwise I am gone.”

Eight: one job under your belt you are in the car stuck on the freeway to your next appointment. You call to warn them courteously that you will be five minutes late. They are irate and screaming that their kitchen sink is overflowing onto the floor and they are hysterical.

Nine: you fixed a faulty faucet, made a few quick bucks and are at the front door of a mansion. Looks good. You go in to find that the lady of the house is disdainful of your dirty shoes. You remove them and proceed to fix the broken toilet. The lady has the housekeeper keep an eye on you lest you touch anything at all.

Ten: a quick cup of coffee and you are on the road again stuck in traffic. You call the irate customer so warn them you will be a teeny bit late, but they say “get here now.”

Eleven: the jobs are easy enough but your nerves are getting frayed. The next job is a hot water heater on the fritz. You check out the connections and find out that the kids have pulled the plug on their high end tankless water heater as a prank. The homeowner refuses to pay for “no work” and circumvents your explanation of a house call.

Noon: you need another cup of coffee and an aspirin. No time for lunch.

One: You are on the road again stuck in traffic but this time you will arrive as scheduled. The client is not particularly appreciative. You fix another broken hot water heater. What? Is there an epidemic going on?

Two: Thank goodness the next job is in the neighborhood. Maybe this time you can be efficient and make some real money. You unplug a stopped up toilet. Anyone could do it with a plunger. The owner says she will pay only half the house call fee.

Three: you need another aspirin and a nap. But no time. You are on the road again and stuck in traffic. You do not make the appointment and get yelled at for five minutes straight.

Four: the ten o’clock appointment called to say she forgot to tell you about another leak so you hightail it to get there, hoping to score some bucks.

Five: you finish the four o’clock call and check your messages. Yup, the usual “emergency” and you agree to get back on that nasty clogged like a bad drain pipe freeway.

Six: you arrive at your final appointment and pretend to be in a good mood. You are not. But the lady of the house is attractive so you don’t mind the job, whatever it is.

Dealing with being fired or made redundant

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Some people look at their current job as a race. A race between quitting before the company gets a chance to fire, lay off, or downsizes the employee’s position. Being fired is no fun, particularly if you are like most people who depend on their job to eat, pay the bills, and take a two-week vacation every year. Losing a job often throws chaos into the life of an employee, whether it was justified or not. The question then becomes how to deal with the event.

First, accept the reality and take time to decompress. It is a stressful event and usually comes unexpectedly. People need time to put the brakes on and mentally prepare themselves to move forward. For this step, the time each person needs will be different, but any more time than a week is probably too long.

Next, pick up a pencil and paper and write down all of your positive accomplishments during your time with the company. This will be necessary for the job description section of the resume, but will also show you that even though you were fired, there are a lot of positives you can take away from your time there. Do not try to be picky with what you write down; you can make changes later.

What you do next should be obvious – update your resume. You will need to do this to search for a new job, and you can add your accomplishments from your previous job. Another reason not to wait too long before getting back on your feet is because from the day you got fired the clock began to run on how long you were unemployed. As many people have found out during the most recent economic downturn, the longer the time between your last job and your current job search, the less likely you are to be hired.

One of the most difficult things you will have to do is to stay positive, especially if you believe your firing was unjustified. You have the right to your feelings but the most important thing to do is to get employed again. That is the antidote for getting fired.

There are times when you see the train coming down the tracks, and the train has a “Fired!” sign on the front. One of these times is when you feel your position and job are redundant, when you see five other people doing the same job. Besides being bored, you are waiting for management to show you the door sooner than later. How should you deal with this situation?

Compared to the unexpected firing, this is a situation where you have time to prepare. Emotionally dealing with it is easier as long as you take immediate action. You are trying to win the “you can’t fire me, I quit” race. Follow the same preparation steps as discussed above when being fired. Update your resume and begin looking as soon as possible.

There are a couple of issues to consider before moving forward and leaving the company. First, are you sure the reality of the situation is not something you fear or imagine? Second, if you do begin looking for another job and your current employer discovers it, what will your response be? Finally, is your perception of the situation a result of actually wanting to leave the company and you are simply looking for an excuse to leave?

How to ask for a raise

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The raise. One of the most interesting, delicate, and potentially dangerous requests made by an employee during their stay with a company. There are as many ways to ask for a raise as there are individual relationships between an employee and their boss. What you need to know first is why you should ask for a raise.

Everyone is overworked and underpaid. So your request for a raise at a time when normal employee reviews are not scheduled needs to be based on your work performance and overall benefit to the company since your employment began. Having a good week or finding out someone who is doing the same job is making more than you is not a reason to ask for a raise. The basis for your request must be based solely on your merits.

First, be sure you have solid basics when personally evaluating yourself. Here are some common issues that are often overlooked during the self-evaluation process.

Were you on time every day? Leaping into your chair one second before you are scheduled to start working does not mean you are on time from the perspective of management. Whatever reasons there may be for you being late on occasion does not change the reality you were late.

Were you late coming back from lunches or meetings? A lot of people may be fine on being back from lunch on time, but being late from (or for) meetings can be considered the same as being late for work. If you are guilty of this business behavior, hit the pause button before asking for a raise.

Has your work performance exceeded the expectations of your manager? In other words, stop looking around and comparing yourself to other employees, since each employee has their role in the company. Your manager is the person who will be evaluating you during your time with the company, and the person you will have to convince that you qualify for the raise.

Do you have a good relationship with your manager? If not, you probably have to rethink the whole asking for a raise idea.

If you are satisfied with the basics, then you can move on to the approach – how to ask for the raise. You need to be prepared to make your case with facts that both you and your manager are aware of. These can be sales figures, problems resolved, e-mails from other departments giving you positive feedback on your performance, and even recognition that came directly from the manager. Be assertive but not arrogant. While your performance may be exceptional, and your manager recognizes it, the request for an unscheduled raise is not an obligation to the company. It is at their discretion.

Finally, address the request for a raise with a future orientation. This means that while your justification for asking is based on past and present performance, your argument is that you will justify getting the raise based on your future performance with the company at your present position. In other words, they are making an investment, not rewarding you for what you have done.

How to write your cover letter

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a brief introduction of yourself and often gives you the opportunity to express your interest in the position. Not all companies require or even allow a cover letter to be included with your resume. Be sure to check before attaching one to your email application or send it along by postal mail.

One common problem occurs when people write cover letters – they construct it as if it were a mini-resume. It is not. Think of a cover letter as an advertisement and the resume as the product connected to the ad. An advertisement tells you the advantages of buying the product, but only discusses the actual product a little.

There is no format to follow when constructing a cover letter. Some books and web sites will show sample cover letters that have been successful, but for our purposes following another person’s success formula is advised against. The reason? Our approach is that you are your own product, so you cannot be duplicated, nor can your cover letter.

However, there are some guidelines you should follow so it is connected to the resume in the mind of the reader. Like the resume, you should include the following information:

  • Your formal name, current address, city, state, and zip code
  • A contact telephone number
  • Adding the date you write the cover letter is optional, but recommended.

In writing the content of the cover letter, you should keep it short. Two, perhaps three, short paragraphs at the most. The employer wants to know why you are interested in the position and what you believe are your greatest strengths that you have to offer the company.

There are other reasons an employer may require a cover letter. One of the most common and less considered by the applicant is the employer is looking for the level of the applicant’s writing skills. For you, this means that you must carefully read, write, edit, rewrite, and review each sentence and paragraph of the cover letter before sending it. Positions that require writing reports, secretarial positions, and even some management positions will need to be especially careful of the language and grammar used in the cover letter.

Formal writing and language is essential in the cover letter content. Avoid slang phrases and colloquialisms, but write plainly and simply. Your ability to communicate in writing will also be evaluated, so be sure to say precisely what you mean to say.

As with providing false information on the resume, it is advised against having a friend or other person write your cover letter. Yes, there are resume writing agencies but the language contents of a resume are different from the cover letter. Should you get an interview, the interviewers will know quickly whether the language in the cover letter is yours or was written by someone else. If they believe there is a significant difference, they may continue the interview, but it is likely you have dropped out of serious consideration for the job.

How to look for and win a job

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So you are wondering what new can be said about jobs, job searching, and the rest of it. The first thing I would like you to think about is how many different web sites you have to go to in order to find everything you need to know. You can also go the library, but you will probably find the same story. Here, we hope to tell you what you need to know – all in one place.

We will start out with the obvious – how to look for a job. It dies not matter whether you have a college degree or not, looking for a job is basically the same process.

Step one is to find out what your marketable skills are. Marketable is important here since your ability to repair retro 8-track players does not have much of a demand. So conduct an inventory and find out what you have that other people need. It might be mechanical skills or organizational skills, or teaching skills. Your skill set is what is marketable, coupled with a verifiable amount of experience.

The next step is to find out who is hiring and where. You can start with local employment agencies where you will fill out an application and probably some other paperwork. Some say you should start searching on the Internet, but that is true if you already have some experience with searching for a job. Stopping by a local employment agency will give you the chance to learn the basics and ask all the questions you want without feeling you should know more about the process.

The search process can then move to the Internet. That is where you can get your feet wet in the privacy of your own home and learn as you go. The fastest way to start is to take your favorite search engine and enter in a two part phrase – the type of job you are looking for and the city and state where you are looking. For example, “mail clerk, Los Angeles CA.” You can start clicking and reading the various job openings and descriptions in your area.

Once you find several jobs that are in your area, that you basically qualify for, and you are interested in, create a plan. You probably will not want to apply to all the jobs in the same day. One reason is that most companies do not allow you to just walk in and apply – an appointment is required. The second reason is that you will find out that finding work may be more tiring than the job itself. This is especially true if you are not having much success at getting hired immediately. One final note on planning is to make sure you know exactly where the company is located. Getting lost can be avoided simply by making a phone call to the company to verify their location. Ask for directions if you need to.

We will end this first section on interviewing for a job. The truth is, an entire book can be written on job interviewing, but as we said earlier, we will cover the basics.

The first basic is dress. Dress professionally but appropriately. If you wear a suit to apply at McDonalds, they may think you will leave for a higher paying job without warning. If you wear flip-flops to a secretarial position, you will very likely significantly hurt your chances of being hired.

When you are ready to leave the house, be sure you allow yourself enough time to get to the interview 15 – 20 minutes before the scheduled time. The reason is that you will have to fill out paperwork, such as an application and personal data form, which usually take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. Even if you finish early, it will give you time to relax.

If this is your first job, you will probably interview with only one, maybe two people. If you have experience you may find yourself interviewing with many people, possibly with everyone in a room at the same time. Interviewing is really a natural process, so while most people tend to get nervous, simply and honestly answering the questions you are asked will be considered a successful interview.