Should I have a resume for a blue collar job?

photo by BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives

Back in the day (or clients have told me), you didn’t need a resume for a blue collar job. Yet today, companies are requesting them and the online application is instructing you to upload your resume.

Since my resume samples include resumes for Production Supervisors, Facilities Managers, and Manufacturing Engineer, I find many people searching for those terms and looking at the samples.

Why do you need a resume if you are applying online anyway?

If you have ever filled out one of the applications starting from scratch, you know how time consuming it can be. Since resumes are reviewed using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), they are looking for key words. Let’s review a manufacturing posting:

  • Detect when products does not meet quality standards and machinery does not meet operational standards.
  • Must be able to develop fluid knowledge of inventory sizes, types, colors and pallet/package count and cubing patterns.
  • Learn product codes.
  • Use a tape measure and other measuring instruments to check size of products.
  • Perform frequent arithmetic operations to calculate, quantity of units per tier and per pallet, and other calculations as required.
  • Operate a forklift efficiently and safely.
  • Cooperate with others.
  • Understand and follow directions as required by safety and job performance standards.
  • Ability to operate and set-up machinery and possess a basic understanding of PLC operated control equipment

Now to determine the key words for this posting, lets use a handy tool called tag crowd:While this tool doesn’t always give the right key words, it does quickly analyze the posting and pull out repetitive concepts which should be in your resume and job application.

If I am writing a resume for production related positions, I will select key words both on the basis of the job posting and my client’s expertise.

A sample list of keywords might look like this:

  • Quality Control
  • Production Processes
  • Inventory Control
  • Safety Regulation Compliance

As one progresses in a manufacturing career, those keywords might look like this:

  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Production Supervision
  • Hazardous Chemical Safety
  • Process Flow

And as you reach a management level of manufacturing, keywords might be:

  • Change Management | Project Management | Leadership Development
  • Training & Development | Productivity Improvement | Production Management
  • Quality Improvement | Proactive Management | Inventory Management

Just getting the keywords into an online application can take research and planning. But getting the keywords right is just the tip of the iceberg, you need to add accomplishment-driven statements to differentiate you from the pack.  Finding accomplishments is one of the talents that professional resume writers work hard to develop. I can’t tell you how many times someone tells me they have no accomplishments and then upon a little probing, they come up with things like this:

  • Discovered a key performance indicator (KPI), a coliform pathogen hiding in the ultra filtration system, resulting in changes to the sanitation system and improved quality control.


  • Designed new package filling head to lower container damage (one of the package filling head was creating holes in packages), resulting in reducing product downgrade due to package damage by 9%.


  • Piloted reduction in packaging inventory through creating min and max safety stock levels, resulting in annual savings from working capital reduction at 8%.

Whether a person or an ATS system reads your resume or application, if you are competing with hundreds of applicants (and you often are), you don’t stand a chance without working hard to have a complete resume ready BEFORE you start posting your resume online or filling out the application.

What happens when you get it right?

– a client recently posted this on Twitter:

@JulieWalraven – Many Thanks 4 writing my resume & finding a wonderful position! no longer experiencing major life stress=unemployment.

Is is your turn to get it right and stop experiencing major life stress?

By the way, that tweet was from a NASA engineer who is now happily re-employed… she was up against thousands of others but she has won her new position. Whether you are blue collar or a NASA engineer, you need a resume!


  1. Melissa Cooley on October 4, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Yes, yes, yes!

    Back about 10 years ago, my husband applied for a welding position using the resume that I created for him. One of the first things they said to him at the interview was how impressed they were with his resume. He still needed to pass the welding test (which he did), but it was that well-crafted document that differentiated him from other candidates.

    • Julie Walraven on October 4, 2011 at 9:57 am

      🙂 Melissa! You’re right… and having a well-crafted resume in today’s market is critical!

  2. Mark Anthony Dyson on October 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I agree that a resume has become the competitive differentiation for blue collar workers, especially for jobs that require direct contact with the customer. The resume is the first demonstration for a potential employer to ensure that a candidate can clearly communicate.

    • Julie Walraven on October 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Thanks Mark, I totally agree. The numbers of blue collar resumes I have written has steadily increased and escalated during the recession.

  3. Laura Labovich on October 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Really loved this post! I think it can be also useful for a blue collar worker to work with a resume writer because, in many cases, these folks work with things (assembly line, equipment, etc.) rather than people. The often daunting, but necessary, process of extracting the data to build a great resume will help better arm these folks for an in-person interview!

    • Julie Walraven on October 6, 2011 at 6:30 am

      Thanks, Laura. You are so right! I find that I learn so much from my clients both locally and internationally. There is a lot of pride in the manufacturing of so many diverse products. The reality of how many of the local companies sell worldwide always surprises me. Hope you are well!

Resume Design and Job Seeking Tips

Here are Design Resumes' latest articles on job search, resume design, resume writing, and Linkedin optimization articles I've written.

FREE Resume and Job Search Tips by email

Get free tips and strategy direct to your inbox. just add your name and email below. I respect your privacy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

Here are ways I can help you land your dream job.

You may be halfway across the country or the world. When you work with me, we share coffee, laughs, and concerns. This turns the scary job search into creative, consultative writing and learning sessions.