The timeline for the process of finding a job begins during the first week of school. I first engage the students in conversation and ask why they are studying HVACR. The No. 1 answer is because they want a job (the expected response).

Then I inform students that NOW is the time to begin a job search. The normal student response is surprise since they are just starting school. But I give the students specific steps to follow, which I will share below. The job search success for any student who actually followed through with the advice given has been very impressive.

  • Get a phone book for the area that you wish to work in.
  • Look in the yellow pages under the following categories: air conditioning, heating, refrigeration.

I explain that the category with the most employer potential is usually a/c and heating, and the same employers are found under both categories. I caution that the size of advertisement is not an indicator of professionalism; the yellow pages are for identifying employer locations only.
After this initial research, I tell students to:

  • Make a list of the potential employers and their locations.
  • Visit the employer location park in their parking lot or across the street and gauge the professionalism of the company.

The visual references of a professional employer include a professional-looking building that is well-marked, clean, and inviting; a front reception area/sales floor with receptionist greeting the public; professional-looking vehicles that are clean, well-marked, and well-maintained; professional-looking staff and employees who wear uniforms, are clean-cut and well groomed.

Simply put, if the employer looks like a professional operation, it probably is. After you have viewed the locations from your yellow page search, prepare to go visit those you have noted as professional companies.

  • Prepare for your initial visit by being clean-cut, well-groomed, and dressed in reasonable clothing, such as slacks or neat blue jeans and a nice shirt (no tie).
  • Enter the professional office area and introduce yourself to the receptionist. Tell him or her that you are engaged in a HVACR program of study and have identified their company as one that you are interested in working for and are doing your initial job search
  • If you determine it is a shop that you think you would like to work for, obtain two company application forms.

I tell the students that the first form is for practice: fill it out in pencil and continue to work with it until you have it perfected. The second one is for a final application that you will turn in to the company. It will be nice, neat, and complete with correct spelling, etc. (and no coffee stains). If you can return with the nicely completed application later, (they allow you to take them home), that is a good situation.

Some companies will not allow you to take an application home, in that case, you’ll need to fill it out in their office. But make sure you use correct spelling, print clearly, and fill it out completely to the level that you have information for. You might even want to prepare more, return, and fill the application out later.

By using the yellow pages, verifying the professional appearance of your target potential employers, and obtained an application you have completed the first step toward getting a job. Stay tuned for Part 3 of this blog series to learn the next step.