Gaining your electrical qualifications is an exciting time, but the shine can be taken off if you have no idea what you should be doing once qualified.
We have spoken to the more experienced guys who have given us some essential steps to take once qualified – these steps will not only give you experience in the trade but will also help to spread the word about your services.
• Things to think about before you finish your qualifications
There are many different routes into the industry whether it is domestic or commercial but the same logic always applies.
Many of our students will leave us to set up independently as sole traders, the difference between success and failure is your ability to think and act like a businessman and not an electrician.
You must realise that there are electricians out there that could be earning much higher salaries for much less stress if only they had a better business brain.
At the end of the day it is about exposure of your skills that will guarantee you regular work, if nobody sees or hears about you they will not be able to use you.
Just like any business you need to learn how to market yourself correctly. Here is a list of things we recommend you consider putting into place before finishing your qualifications:
• Website- 90% of customers search for services on the web and having a professional website is a must!
• Paid Search-use of even a limited budget can help you to rank above others on search engines.
• Checkatrade.com - Consider using companies such as this to help you promote a healthy professional image.
• Setting up your company?(Bank, Insurance, Company Name) –There can be a few teething problems when setting everything up, you as many well sort these out while you are studying instead of not being able to take on work because you are too tied up getting all this into place.
• Business cards- Affordable and professional business cards are very important as people to tend to store them just in case the lights do go out one day. Vistaprint.co.uk is a good company to use.
• Social Media- You cannot underestimate the importance and effectiveness of Facebook and Twitter, for example, they are great for marketing and networking and best of all they are free.
Without any experience, obtaining a paid position can be more difficult. A select few of the students who have undertaken training with Trade Skills 4 U find that offering their skills freely to begin with has given them some onsite experience which has helped with networking and has led to employment. Another idea would be to start sourcing your own work and if you come across a job you do not feel confident enough to complete then call an experienced electrician and offer him a percentage of the job fee. The advantages to this are that you are still getting paid and also learning from a skilled electrician and the customer will use you again as they are using your company.
You may well find yourself with the offer of paid employment following a period of gaining experience. Many electricians find they need a helping hand on larger projects and paid temporary work is a good way of working towards a more permanent position.
• Do work for friends and family
If you have decided to set up your own business after gaining qualifications, you will be taking one of the most common routes our students take. It can take a while to get your name 'out there' initially and it is always a good idea to have a portfolio of example work that you are able to show to your potential clients.
The best way of obtaining your initial work is to carry out work for family and friends – after all, these are the very people who want you to succeed in your new career more than anyone else.
• Get some tools
This is essential if you plan to run your own business and is a great advantage if you are looking for paid employment. Having your own tools also gives you the added advantage of being familiar with their use. Furthermore, you can ensure you are kitted out with the essentials. Our recent post – definitive tools of the trade listed must have tools as recommended by electricians. Having your own tools means you are serious about your work and its one less expense an employer has when they take you on and gives them another good reason why they should be employing you.
A word of warning, if you are going to work on site, you may want to invest in a lock for your tool box. Tool theft is not uncommon on site so ensure you keep your tools as safe as possible.
• Offer to work for other sparkies to get more experience
Sitting at home doing nothing is the worst thing you can do. We cannot recommend highly enough the training and experience that counts. This is why we have covered this again in our article. Although working for free may seem a little unrewarding to begin with, you will get to where you want to be much quicker.
Impress an electrician enough by offering your services for free may well land you with a paid position far quicker. Established electricians have good industry contacts and if you are willing to work hard and learn the trade, they will often know someone who is looking for a good electrician.
So there we have it, our top tips for success after qualification.
Remember gaining your qualifications is just the start of an exciting career as an electrician. Your career will be filled with non-stop but highly rewarding learning. No electrician out there will claim to know it all, but electricians that work hard (and play hard!) will reap the benefits.
Students looking to become self-employed may find it beneficial to go on some short business courses and carry out research about their local area and figure out the best marketing strategies for their clientele.
Remember you are a businessman first and an electrician second.