Welcome to our series: Skillit Employer Spotlight.

This week, we’re chatting with Mick Bentley at Messer Construction Co. in Nashville, Tenn.
If you want to know how to stand out and develop as a carpentry candidate, it helps to learn from the pros.

This week, we chatted with Mick Bentley at Messer Construction Co. in Nashville, Tenn.

Mick is an industry veteran: He has been with Messer for 28 years, starting out as a Carpenter’s Apprentice, and working his way up the ranks to help open Messer’s Nashville office in 2006. Currently, he serves as Craftforce Manager.

Below, Mick shares why it’s great to get into carpentry now, and gives his top tips for carpentry industry hopefuls, candidates, and seasoned careerists alike.

Companies are investing in their teams.
Any company worth its salt will take an active role in developing its employees and guiding them along their career path.

At Messer, there are competencies for each level—in total, eight levels for carpenters and laborers. At each level, Messer has identified competencies and skills that team members should achieve. Team members can check off their competencies with their corresponding level, then complete an assessment. Along the way, a mentor will help guide them as to opportunities for improvement.

Promotions stem from passing these competencies, along with other factors such as attendance and safety record.

“We wanted in black and white how you can grow with the company,” Mick says.

It’s also common for companies to evaluate overall performance with annual evaluations. Messer performs a 30-day evaluation at the beginning of a carpenter’s career to assess their competencies at their current level and determine what they need to do to progress to the next level.

A Carpentry career is future-proof.
Ask Mick where the greatest need for team members is and he’ll tell you straight away: “Right now in Nashville—not just us, but for every company—it’s carpentry. There are just not enough individuals to fill open roles,” he says.

A number of factors are contributing to this. For the past 30+ years, college degrees have been heavily promoted throughout the country. As a result, many folks that may have chosen to enter the skilled trades in the Nashville market and in other cities instead were incentivized to attend college and obtain a four-year degree.

Many schools have also chosen to cut programs that introduce high school students to the skilled trades, including carpentry.

Finally, many carpenters are retiring, and fewer people are stepping up and fill their roles.

“The main challenge is that there is nobody out there to fulfill the positions,” Mick says, adding that this is a nationwide problem across many industries.

With a shortage of skilled trade workers, exploring a career in carpentry is future- and recession-proof and offers many benefits.

“You learn a skill for life that is always going to be in demand,” says Mick. “Doing carpentry, you can earn top dollar—in some cases, $100,000 per year—and you won’t have any student loans to pay back.”

The industry is evolving with the times.
Mick cites communication as the top thing that has changed since he started his career as a Carpenter’s Apprentice back in the early 1990s.

“We really didn’t have too many ways to communicate back in 2006,” Mick says, laughing. “We had AOL and flip phones. Right now, there is so much communication.”

One outcome is it has made hiring easier in some ways, as candidates can now apply—and in some cases interview—online or remotely.

Computer skills are another way in which the industry has evolved, as these skills are becoming more useful and in demand.

“Computer literacy is important—and that’s not going to change anytime soon,” says Mick. “Everything is online these days, and computer programs like Excel are helpful to know, especially as you’re looking to progress higher up in your career.”

You can show off your soft skills to stand out.
Candidates should have strong technical skills, but soft skills are important, too. Mick shared with us his top tips for how to stand out with soft skills.

First, time management is important: It’s good to be early (or at least on time).

“One way to make a good first impression is to be reliable and respectful of being on time and ready to work each day,” says Mick.

And a little conscientiousness goes a long way: Mick advises that carpentry candidates take extra time to proofread their job application. It’s a simple way to show you care about the position and that you are thorough.

“The best applications are the ones that are correct, with no misspellings, and have answered all questions accordingly,” says Mick.

Want to love your work and paycheck? Join a community of carpenters winning the jobs and pay they want at the nation’s top construction firms.