The differences between white collar job hunting and blue collar job hunting

White collar job hunting vs blue collar job huntingHere’s a post that’s been percolating for a while, based on observations I’ve made. I’ll broadly differentiate as white vs blue collar, though I’m counting, say, non-office-based sales work here under the blue collar umbrella.

Getting the job

The interview-to-offer ratio

In my experience in the white collar world, employers work hard to shortlist very few candidates and only interview a couple in person. On the other hand, blue collar employers seem to bring people in willy nilly. I am deadly serious when I say T has been to more job interviews in a single week of job hunting than I have in my entire career. So many interviews, so few offers. So much time wasted bringing someone in just for a chat. Ever heard of phone screening?

The sheer difficulty of interviewing

Interviewing when you’re unemployed isn’t too hard, logistically. But if you’re still employed?

Well, for me it’s never been a biggie. I can take my lunch whenever I want and have the flexibility to duck out to appointments during the day if needed, and make time up. For him? Breaks are strictly timed, usually at set times. That makes it pretty hard to get away for an interview during the day, unless it happens to be on the same street. And again, refer to the first point above about the sheer number of interviews required to get anywhere.

On the job

Transport costs

Speaking of that inflexibility, that often necessitates having a reliable vehicle so you can be sure of getting to work on time every day. And if you work anything outside of 9-5, you can definitely write off public transport as an option. Yet it’s probably a struggle – at the very least, when you’re starting out – to afford a decent car. So much irony: low-level job, strict hours, struggling to afford transport in order to keep said job.

Blue collar jobs are much more spread out over the whole city, whereas white collar employment is more concentrated in town. This further complicates the whole transport issue (‘just move closer to work’ isn’t that simple).

Tools of the trade

Even with discounts, we have spent hundreds, if not thousands, on gear and tools and training for him at various jobs. All that on not particularly high wages, really. True, you can take some of these with you to new jobs … but that’s if the stuff doesn’t wear out or break or expire first.

I’ve never been expected to pay for things that I need to carry out my duties at work. There was one time I paid for a design/photo-editing app out of my own Apple account and didn’t submit for reimbursement. DON’T do that by the way! It was certainly not expected, and I kick myself now for that. What was I thinking? (I was thinking that I felt grateful for the salary at my new job and I could easily absorb the cost. NOT the point.)

7 thoughts on “The differences between white collar job hunting and blue collar job hunting

  • Reply Genie July 1, 2015 at 08:31

    How people can get good current references? I’ve been at my job for 10 years. Before that, I worked at a government agency for 7 years (an after school job) who don’t give out references for part timers.

    I don’t want to tell my current boss that I’ve applied for a couple of other jobs over the years. I’ve put down my references as clients that I’ve worked with over the years. While having my boss on there is better, I don’t want them to know that I’ve looked elsewhere. Is this normal?

    • Reply eemusings July 1, 2015 at 09:46

      Of course, totally normal. (I posted about this awhile ago). Clients sound good, and is there anyone else NOT your boss who works with you that you trust and could vouch for you?

      In my last two job hunts, my direct bosses resigned just before I did so that was really lucky and I used them as current references.

  • Reply Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents July 1, 2015 at 09:50

    I was thinking about the time flexibility thing the other day. At my white collar job I can go to contractor appts whenever as long as I get my work done and put the hours in. Obviously I have meetings and the like, but in general I can make my schedule flex. Someone without that sort of flexibility would be hard pressed to deal with those sorts of personal-issue-need-to-figure-this-out-in-real-time stuff.

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank July 1, 2015 at 20:09

    You just made clear distinction between white and blue-collar job hunting. Based on experience, I always allot time for me to look for better jobs during my last month of staying at the current company I work for. This is to help me find a better, suitable job for me.

  • Reply Kate @ Cashville Skyline July 2, 2015 at 00:37

    Interesting post! I also wonder about access to job hunting tools. Some companies pay for memberships to professional organizations that regularly share job postings in their city. Is there a barrier between blue collar and white collar job hunting here?

  • Reply SANDY l July 2, 2015 at 07:32

    Most of the blue collar jobs I had, I was hired on the spot…like fill out a job application, walk over to the manager, hand him/her the form, get asked a few questions…then set a start date. In many of blue collar jobs I worked at, the biggest challenge for a hiring managers has always been hiring someone who actually shows up to work on time, doesn’t call in sick constantly….and/or doesn’t just quit after a very short period of time.

    Around here, some blue collar jobs require a lot of skill and those jobs get screened as rigorously as any white collar job. They also usually pay a lot more $$/hour so job retention isn’t usually as big an issue…it’s starts to be more about competence at that point.

    I guess I wouldn’t split the jobs into blue collar/white collar, but as “skilled” vs “unskilled” work. Anybody can be a dishwasher….so the pay is low and showing up is what makes someone a good vs bad employee. When you can use your brain to differentiate yourself from your peer, then you are heading in the right direction.

    • Reply eemusings July 2, 2015 at 11:44

      Some truth to that, but from my observations even the skilled trade type work is a lot less flexible than any of the office jobs I’ve ever had. (Exceptions if you’re the big boss, as in any industry.) That’s why I didn’t draw the skilled/unskilled line in the post. I really do see some stark differences between blue/white collar, and not all of it falls along skill level.

      (I may also have been really lucky and maybe there are some really inflexible office environments, too.)

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