When it comes to technicians fresh out of school, there’s a lot of emphasis put on the skills that they need to obtain in order to have a long, successful career in the HVAC industry.

But, as the industry is learning, there is much more than just technical skills involved when it comes to ensuring a new hire opts for a long tenure with their new company.

In order to retain talent, it’s critical to ensure they are not only finding fulfillment at their job, but also getting a certain level of satisfaction in their personal lives. Many of these new technicians are young and inexperienced, or may be coming from a more difficult situation that inspired them to turn their lives around with the help of the HVAC industry. Either way, it might be beneficial for a new employer to provide them with a little advice to foster their financial well-being.

After all, if an employee who isn’t good with money sees an opening elsewhere that pays a dollar more an hour, even if it’s worse work, they might take it — thinking that more money will solve their problems.

At the Lennox VisionTech conference held at Wisconsin Dells in May, Pat Hebert, Lennox territory manager, and Mark Schoeneman, also a Lennox territory manager, gave the students in attendance some valuable insight not only on how to create a solid foundation for their financial wellbeing, but also some essential skills needed to nail their first interview.


Sticker Shock

Whether it's their first real paycheck out of college or maybe one that dwarfs what they were making at a fast food place, the start of a career in the HVAC industry can be life-changing.

The temptation for a new technician to immediately turn around and put a payment on a brand-new, fully-loaded truck will be strong, but as numerous real-life examples will illustrate, that’s not a wise idea.

To help guide them down the right path, Hebert and Schoeneman gave students a good jumping off point. While the advice given has been echoed by many other financial gurus and certified professionals, the duo did make sure to note they weren’t financial experts, themselves.

  • The first step is to create a budget — begin by tracking expenses and understanding where money is going (rent, student loan payments, cell phone bill, etc.) Based on those expenditures weighed against the new income, allocate money to different essential categories, and make sure to leave some for savings. Start small, but try to gradually work up to 10% automatically going into a savings account.
  • While tempting, avoid new debt, especially high-interest debt from credit cards, and if there is existing debt, prioritize paying that off ASAP.
  • Aside from savings, it’s also a good idea to build up a healthy emergency fund — it’s estimated that 49% of households currently could not afford a $10,000 emergency.
  • Once money is set aside for debts, savings, and other necessary expenses, it’s suggested to start investing, early and often. Consider options like employee-sponsored retirement plans (401Ks, IRAs) and also index funds, as a way to get started.
  • When it comes to investing, the best strategy is just “early and often.” Compounding interest is your friend in this regard, so the sooner someone starts investing, the more dividends it will pay down the road.
  • Investment assets should also be diversified into different areas (stocks, bonds, real estate) to reduce risks.
  • Another good rule of thumb is 50/30/20 — 50% going toward needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings and debt repayment.
  • After all of this is said and done, perform periodic reviews and make adjustments when major life events, like marriage or the birth of a child, occur.

If all of this seems too confusing, sitting down with a financial advisor to help create a plan is certainly worthwhile.


Taking a Step Back

If a new technician has already landed a job and is now worry about what to do with their new wealth, then they’re off to a great start. For those of those still looking to get a foot in the door, Hebert and Schoeneman offered some wisdom that they’ve accumulated over their careers.

  • AI is relatively new to the scene, so be careful relying on it too heavily to assist with creating a resume — while it shows an applicant knows how to leverage technology, it also shows they may not like to actually put in the work. Anyone who has spent time reviewing resumes in the last couple of years is also pretty likely to spot its usage.
  • Ditch the “creative” email address, which may be a vestige from an Xbox Live account, and instead create a new one that sounds more professional.
  • Realize that a prospective employer may only spend around 60 seconds reviewing a resume, so make sure it is a snapshot of important skills and accomplishments.
  • To list a GPA or not? If it’s above 3.0, go ahead, but if it’s below that, leave it off and be prepared to explain during the interview why it’s low.
  • For references, keep them related to the profession; don’t use an uncle who knows nothing about HVAC. Above all, make sure whoever is listed will say good things.
  • Don’t walk into an interview blind — while a fresh technician may be confident in their skills, prospective employers also want to see someone who took the time to do research about the company they’ve applied to and have an idea of what kind of value they can bring to the organization.
  • Prior to the interview, go online and search for a list of common questions that will be asked, run through them, and polish some answers. Also be prepared for more questions like “How would you deal with an angry customer?” or other “STAR” (situation, task, action, result) type inquiries.
  • While an interview serves as a way for an employer to see if they want to hire the person in front of them, it’s also important for the one being interviewed to assess whether or not this is a company they want to dedicate their time and talent to.
  • First impressions go a long way — dress appropriately, bring copies of important documents and certification cards, and be sure to ask questions. A follow-up “thank you” email after an interview also goes a long way.
  • Some final, additional tips — have a firm handshake, maintain good eye contact and posture, exude confidence, smile and be happy to be there, and if you don’t know the answer to a questions, just say so.