If you’re a general laborer, don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t need a resume. A resume is a critical document for anyone seeking a job, and laborers are no exception.
But you can cut down on a ton of work and avoid the headache of toiling at your computer over a confusing document: Simply use our guide to understand the basics and/or simply edit our resume template and insert your general laborer qualifications to land a great job in 2021.
This guide will explore how a general laborer should prepare a resume, covering the following points:
- What do general laborers do?
- Salary and job outlook for general laborers
- How to write a general laborer resume
- Construction resume examples and guides to writing the resume summary, work history, education and skills for general laborers
- Choosing the best resume format for a general laborer
General laborers build the homes we live in, the buildings we work in and the roads we drive on — for starters. They do landscaping, farm and field work; they pour cement and pavement; they operate power tools and heavy machinery. They are sometimes described as “unskilled,” but if you think they lack skills, have you ever seen a heart surgeon operate a forklift?
What do general laborers do?
Whatever the boss tells them to! As the name implies, general laborers are not classified by specialty, but are more like generalists in the labor market.
General laborers are blue-collar workers who may be employed in any number of fields, including construction, agriculture, gardening, maintenance and many others.
As the name also implies, general laborers labor, getting their hands dirty, using their backs, doing physical work. They usually work in outdoor environments more than air-conditioned offices, wearing boots more often than high heels, and work shirts more than suits.
General laborers are often, but certainly not always, younger entry-level workers who are just starting out. However, many laborers develop specialties that are essential to getting any job done. And if you don’t believe that, feel free to grab a shovel and dig your own swimming pool.
Need more inspiration to build your resume? See our other related resume samples listed here below.
Salary and job outlook for general laborers
General laborers work in so many fields that it’s difficult to define the occupation, but there are various estimates of their pay ranges and job outlook.
How much do general laborers make?
The following averages are provided by Payscale.com, a leading aggregator of job salary info, starting with U.S. pay rates and then providing figures for other countries:
JOB DESCRIPTION HOURLY PAY
- Laborer $14.88
- Construction laborer $15.68
- Construction worker $16.11
- Public works laborer $15.57
- Unskilled worker $15.18
- Canadian laborer C$16.85
- Canadian construction worker C$19.47
- UK construction worker £9.2
For comparison, the federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 an hour. In Washington, D.C., it’s $15 an hour; in California, it’s $14 (for large employers), and all other state minimum wages are lower than that. So average wages for general laborers are generally above the minimum wage in almost all of the United States.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is the best resource for statistics on job outlook, meaning the projected growth or decline in any occupation in future years. While the BLS doesn’t specifically track “general laborers,” it provides the following projections for related fields.
What is the job outlook for general laborers?
While a job outlook of 4% is projected for all occupations, these are projected rates for growth or decline in labor-related occupations in the U.S.:
JOB DESCRIPTION JOB OUTLOOK, 2019-2029
- Construction laborers and helpers 5%
- Hand laborers and material movers 3%
- General maintenance and repair workers 4%
- Agricultural workers 1%
- Masonry workers -3%
- Grounds maintenance workers 10%
How to write a general laborer resume
A general laborer resume should be a one-page document that lays out the work experience, education/training and specialized skills that make you good at what you do. When writing a general labor resume, it’s important to highlight your skills, the projects or companies you’ve worked for and your overall work attitude. Your new employer is likely looking for a solid and dependable employee, so make sure your resume conveys exactly that impression.
This the appropriate structure for a general laborer resume, with the following components in this order:
- Resume header
- Employment history
The header is an attractively designed section at the top of the resume that contains your name, occupation, address, phone number and email. See the attached example, which also has a photo — an additional option you may or may not choose to include.
The first and largest words on the page are the applicant’s name, John Ryan. In a resume you are selling yourself, and you want the hiring manager to remember you, so make your name the first and most prominent thing on the page.
Add a line that includes your occupation — “General Laborer” in this example, or you may prefer to mention your specialization in the field.
In the margin to the right, you’ll see an address, phone and email. The obvious reason for this is so that employers can contact you if interested, but the layout of this info also provides an eye-pleasing design element that simply makes the page look more interesting.
The header is one of the most important components of the resume because it comes first and sets the visual tone for the rest of the page. It’s also one of the most challenging parts to design, which is why we recommend that you use a resume template in which the design is already done for you.
You can review more than 250 professional resume examples offered by Resume.io, and you’ll see lots of attractively designed headers. Choose one of these templates, replace the header text with your own contact info, and you’re off to a great start.
Now let’s talk about just four other elements you need on the page.
General laborer profile/summary resume example
Sometimes called a profile and sometimes called a summary, this resume section consists of a few lines of text under your header that identifies your occupation, specializations, and a broad outline of the experience and training that makes you good at what you do.
Notice from the attached example that you don’t need to say “I am a…” — or even to use complete sentences. But in describing yourself and your skills, you do need to use compelling, interesting language — never flabby or vague.
The general laborer profile/summary is your best opportunity in a resume to describe yourself in your own words, so make the most of it. You don’t want to sound arrogant or presumptuous, but you do need to blow your own horn a bit. Remember that when you’re seeking a job, if you don’t make a good case for your candidacy, nobody else will.
Here is an example of a general laborer profile/summary:
Hardworking and reliable General Laborer with several years of experience providing productive and efficient labor. Widely experienced in providing a variety of physical labors to ensure a goal is achieved. Bringing forth an exceptional work ethic, physical stamina, and strong multitasking skills.
The all-important ATS test
Many larger employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) — electronic gatekeepers that filter resumes according to the keywords they contain.
Employers use this software by inputting key job qualifications into the system — critical keywords — and then feeding resumes into it to see if they mention the same keywords.
For example, if a Walmart is seeking a warehouse worker to unload trucks at its warehouse and replenish the shelves of its … wait for it … warehouse … then take a wild guess what word it might include among the crucial keywords in its applicant tracking system.
Now let’s say Walmart receives 500 resumes applying for this position. The hiring manager, not wanting to read them all, feeds them into the ATS first. If your resume never includes the word “warehouse,” then the computer ’bots that automatically filter all these resumes could reasonably conclude that you have no warehouse experience — or that you didn’t even read the job listing. The ATS is likely to reject your resume before a human being ever looks at it, while greenlighting resumes that do contain the all-important word “warehouse” for human review.
This is why it’s important to tailor your resume to each potential employer. Even if you have zero warehouse experience, you could mention in your profile/summary that you’re a fit, fast, highly organized worker well-suited to a shipping and receiving role in a retailer warehouse. Suddenly you will pass this crucial keyword test, and your resume will rise to the top of the pile.
General laborer work history resume example
The work history section of your resume must highlight the relevant experience that demonstrates to a potential employer that you have the chops to do the job you’re seeking.
List the past jobs you’ve held in reverse chronological order (last job first), along with the dates and employer (company or project).
Under each past employer, use bullet points to showcase what you actually did at those jobs. Use strong action verbs to describe specific achievements, using facts and figures wherever appropriate. Avoid saying “Was responsible for” and instead report what you actually did at each job.
Here is an example of a general laborer work history resume section:
- Provided a variety of physical labor services to ensure the completion of a job.
- Safely and effectively lifted heavy equipment and materials.
- Carefully followed instructions to ensure accuracy.
- Operated trucks, machinery, and general site work tools.
- Utilized strong mathematical and problem-solving skills.
What if I have no experience?
You may fear that you can’t get a job without general laborer work experience, and that you can’t get experience without a job. But remember that every worker in every field starts out with no experience. If it was impossible to get any job without a job history, nobody in the world would have a job.
General laborers with no experience actually have a big advantage over many fields, because it’s an occupation where experience is often not required. If you’re young, eager to work, and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, there’s a job for you out there.
If you have absolutely no paid experience performing any kind of labor, you may have to get a bit creative in preparing your resume. Did you ever mow a lawn? Help paint a house? Unpaid or volunteer labor is still labor.
For those with no experience, it’s often prudent to list your education first (see below), highlighting any special achievements (like an impressive GPA) or academic awards. It’s also important to write a profile/summary that speaks to your passions, aspirations and eagerness to go to work.
General laborer education resume example
General laborers do not need college degrees, but don’t underestimate the value of listing your educational credentials on your resume. Paying attention to the education section of your general laborer resume can be important for a few reasons:
- You can list certificates and training courses (anything that has even a remotely formal document attached to may be fine)
- It shows that you’ve already put effort into something and have a work ethic (especially when you have little or no work experience)
- It rounds out your professional image if you have any ambition for a future promotion in the crew or project.
Reading, writing and math skills are often needed in general laborer jobs. If you have a high school degree or the equivalent, that is absolutely relevant. You may be competing with laborers who have never finished high school, or who speak little or no English. Competency in the basic skills imparted by any level of formal education will make you more attractive to employers.
You may also have special training in blue-collar skills that are important to doing your job (for example, a welding class at a trade school). In your education section, you should mention any training that reflects your overall competency.
Here is an example of a general laborer education section:
January 2020 - present, Engineering Science A.S, Herkimer County Community College, Herkimer
General laborer skills section resume example
The skills section of a general laborer resume may be one of the most important in the entire document. Since yours is a hands-on profession, this section will showcase exactly what you can do and how you’ll be doing it. So make sure to put some thought into your choice of skills, based on the job you’re applying for. Employers will pay close attention to your skill list.
Back to the idea that general laborers are “unskilled” — that’s often pure baloney. If you can drive a nail with five blows, how many librarians can do that? Physical strength and stamina, speed and accuracy, experience with power tools or heavy machinery, expertise in landscaping, paving, plumbing or carpentry — all speak to the specialized talents that will make hiring managers take a closer look at you.
Brainstorm a list of all the things you’re good at doing, even if you don’t think these skills are noteworthy because they come as second nature to you. Write down everything you can think of, even if the list becomes way too long. Then go back, take a close look at your list, trim it down to your most marketable skills, and find the best ways to describe them. Chances are, you’ll come up with an excellent list of skills that will interest employers.
Avoid clichés like “Self-starter” or “Team player,” which might sound good but basically say nothing. Use original language to highlight skills that will be different from what’s on everyone else’s resume.
Here’s an example of a good skills section for a general laborer:
- Forklift Operator
- Ability to Multitask
- Communication Skills
- Knowledge of Power Tools and Hand Tools
Best resume/CV format for a general laborer
Your resume (also known as a CV in countries outside the U.S. or Canada) needs to look as good as it reads, so you need to put some thought into its format and design.
Resume.io offers resume templates divided into the categories of Simple, Creative, Professional and Modern. You can’t really go wrong with any of these, but don’t underestimate the simple template , which is recommended for physical and technical fields, as well as positions in transport, logistics, maintenance and repair.
You don’t need a resume format that’s overloaded with fancy visual elements or too “pretty.” You want your resume to focus on you and your qualifications, so try to avoid unnecessary visual distractions.
Trust your instincts in finding the right look and feel for your resume. When you find one you like, all you have to do is click on it, and the easy-to-use builder tool will guide you through the steps to making it your own.
- General laborers are an essential part of our economy, earning a living wage and looking forward to healthy projected job growth.
- To get the job that’s right for you — in any field — a resume is essential to apply for employment.
- A general labor resume should be a one-page document with a well-designed header that sets the visual tone for the rest of the page.
- Your resume needs a well-written profile/summary, work history, education section and skills section.
- Your resume should be customized for each job you seek, addressing the crucial qualifications mentioned in any job listing to pass the electronic ATS test.
- General laborers should choose a resume format that best highlights their job qualifications.
Best of luck in finding the job that’s right for you!