We’re Working For Your Trust

Work-Hands-is-the-online-résumé-network-that-connects-skilled-trade-workers-with-prospective-employers.

The best part of my day is when I get to talk to our site’s users. The stories I hear are amazing. Some are uplifting, like Daniel Paris who was trained by a 70yr old Finnish logger, while some are just plain useful like Buzz’s tactics for getting hired in construction.

But there’s one kind of emotion we haven’t shared yet, even though we’ve heard it a lot. And that’s frustration. It’s hard to catch a break out there. Everything’s expensive, from tools to equipment to gas, and you get nickel and dimed all day with people trying to stick their hand in your pocket.

Yeah I went [to that other professional site]. The only category for me was “general labor.” I’m not general labor; I’m a journeyman glazier, mother f—er.

a Journeyman Glazier, mother f—er

And then you go to the internet, where things are supposed to be easier. You’re not trying to be the next Bill Gates, but you use the web like anyone else. Finding and applying for jobs, connecting with guys who know your trade — it’s all practically impossible for the trades online given the limited resources that are out there. And every day you see a story about how some company just got a billion dollars to make a better version of mobile phone scrabble.

That’s why we started WorkHands. Why the hell are there 12 apps (and counting) to get drunk city kids a ride home but few that help a carpenter find work?

Sure, there’s other professional sites out there. But, if you go to put your information on one of those other professional sites, you can’t help but notice that it’s not for you. Like a friend of ours said:

“Yeah I went there. The only category for me was “general labor.” I’m not general labor; I’m a journeyman glazier, mother f—er.”

That’s what we’re about. We’re a couple of guys who grew up in blue collar families but wound up doing tech in Silicon V alley. We’re building WorkHands to be a home online for the guys that are actually out there working their asses off to keep this country running.

We’re not going to solve all your problem — we can’t lower your rent, we can’t fix your truck, and we definitely aren’t the ones you want building your next home. But we can make it easier to keep your professional history online, easier to apply for and get a job, and easier to connect with guys like yourself around the country.

We’re working to earn your trust. I know it’s hard to believe for some guys, but we’re building for YOU. We’re responsible to YOU. We’re not one of those groups trying to nickel and dime you and take advantage. We’re out trying to do our part to make things a bit easier for the trades in this country because damn’t if that isn’t too rare a thing these days.

Think we can do better? We want to hear it. Oh, you haven’t tried us out yet? Well what’re you waiting for? Sign up today and give us a shot.

 

 

Made In America Is What Inspired Us

Besides all the cookouts and family gatherings, fireworks and vacations, this past 4th of July was a reminder to us at WorkHands just how awesome this country is. America’s infrastructure has grown for 237 years, and it’s our skilled trades workers that continue to make this possible. Here at WorkHands, we recognize every one of this country’s 16M tradesmen and women, and it’s our goal to create a network specifically for them.

Last week, we went around WorkHands headquarters and took pictures for the 4th of July. The plan was to visit nearby construction sites and photograph any American flags that we could find. It was easier than we expected. There were red, white, and blue themed hard hats, stickers, lunch boxes, and flags everywhere, and, luckily for us, they were happy for a chance to display their national pride to the camera.

One guy in particular caught my eye; he had an American flag sticker on his hard hat that read, “Buy union – Buy American”. He agreed to let me take a picture of the sticker, but only if I would leave him out of the photograph. But, as I went to snap a photo of his hat, he changed his mind. “Fine, I guess you can take my picture, too, but I’m not the face of all of this.”

I quickly snapped the photo before he could change his mind again, thanked everyone on the site for their time, and moved on.

As I thought more about it, I kept going back to what Union Sticker guy said, “I’m not the face of all of this.” Maybe he just wasn’t interested in attention (like Patrick’s dad), but, to us, he IS the face of all of “this.”

He, and every other worker that put on an orange vest and hardhat this morning, is the reason that we’re doing what we are. We’ve spent plenty of time pouring over statistics and facts and trying to understand how exactly WorkHands can benefit the trades. But there’s something about talking to workers, and hearing their personal stories and perspectives that makes this all worthwhile.

We’re trying to create the best blue collar website possible, but we can’t do it alone. No matter how much we learn, there’s always room for improvement. Have an idea about how to improve the website? We’d love to hear it. We’re building WorkHands for you — the plumber, the electrician, the landscaper, and the construction worker with the union sticker. It’s your ideas and insights that we care about and are going to make WorkHands great.

The importance of the skilled trades for this country’s future is something that we take seriously and seeing the words “Made in America” gives us a sense of pride, reverence, and purpose. WorkHands is made in America, and to us, those three words mean everything.

 

 

Where we get our blue collar values

home-heating-oil-delivery

Growing up, my dad ran his own small company that delivered home heating oil and fixed oil burners. Every day, he came home tired and dirty. He’d use Boraxo soap to scrub the grit out of his hands each night before dinner, and then he wanted nothing but to rest, have a beer, and watch the Bruins after a hard day’s work.

My dad’s business also meant that he’d often be on call and available to get woken up in the middle of the night when someone ran out of oil. Growing up outside Boston, temperatures reach freezing lows in the winter, and you can’t run out of oil or your pipes will burst. Did my dad love getting out of bed and into the cold to answer a call in the middle of the night? Heck no! The 2am calls drove him crazy, but he always got up and took care of it — because there’s a sense of duty in his work. There’s a sense that simply persevering, doing what’s expected of you, isn’t just a part of the job. It’s the whole job.

We’re building WorkHands for the workers that get things done

Patrick Cushing

My dad would often take me out in his truck, either to get me out of my mom’s hair, or just to help him out. Sometimes that meant I’d just be sitting there watching him fix or install an oil burner. I always marveled (i.e., got annoyed and impatient) as he spent the extra 20 minutes to make sure all of his pipes were perfectly straight with a level. Watching my dad spend that extra time to make it right was where I started to learn about what it meant to take pride in your work and, instead of just getting something done, getting it done right. Later, I’d ride in the truck and help him pull the oil hose through the snow, often soaked, cold, and uncomfortable. I’m sure my dad was too, but I never heard him complain. Again, persevering wasn’t part of the job. It was the job.

Before running this small company, my dad drove 16-wheeler / Mac trucks across the country. As a result, the ability to drive, and drive well, became something you have to get right in my family to earn respect. The first time I drove any vehicle, it was my dad’s heavy-duty, wide diesel pickup truck, with tool compartments lining the back bed. It was loud and hard to control, but it gave my dad a framework to teach me about the finer points of being a good driver. Line up the left corner of your hood to the left line on the road. Anchor your left arm on the door so you can steady the vehicle with one hand. If you see a truck driver trying to switch lanes near you on the highway, do ‘em a favor, slow down, flash your highs at them, and let them in. These were the sort of tips that don’t make it into your standard driver’s ed class, but that come from the experience of someone who takes pride in getting their job right.

My brother is a chip of my my dad’s block. In an era where most students are encouraged to go to college, my brother knew that wasn’t the right path for him. He’d always been great with his hands and happy to put in a few hard hours of work for the satisfaction of something done right. He didn’t want to spend years racking up debt in a classroom after struggling for years in school. Instead, he decided to go straight to getting his welding certificate, and now, he’s probably in the best financial position of anyone in my family.

man-in-gasmask

He’s since joined my dad, who now runs the family’s traveling carnival business that my grandfather ran before him. My dad worked on the carnival every day after school as a kid but left to raise a family. It’s here that my dad got his real blue collar education and where my brother will, too. Their roles for this company span their entire experience. They have to drive large trucks to move the rides from place to place. They need to know some electrical work when a light shorts out on the ride. If a vehicle breaks down, they need to fix it themselves. During the winter, my brother re-welds parts of the rides that need repair or tuneups. When they’re not doing that, my brother and dad work for someone else’s oil burner service company during the winter, or they help plow roads.

The point of describing all of this, though, is to emphasize a few things. The kind of work my dad and my brother do, that millions of Americans like them do, is work that requires training and experience. It requires a dedication to working in all kinds of weather. It requires getting up at the crack of dawn or middle of the night because something’s gone wrong and needs to get done. It requires pride in what you do because at the end of the day, you can point to that house you built, that heating system you fixed, or those goods you hauled across the country. You can see those things. You can touch them. And they help people.

These workers don’t ask for a lot attention to this type of work; in fact, they kind of loathe it, but they couldn’t be more deserving of some support and recognition.

We’re building WorkHands for the workers that get things done because too many people don’t recognize the value of this work. We forget that there’d be no internet without the electricians who wire it into our homes and offices for us. We forget there’d be no houses or schools without the people who labored over their construction. We forget about the plumbing when it just works, but we benefit from the fact that someone meticulously made sure it would work right. We forget that this country rose from the ground and became great with a strong blue-collar workforce, and that’s no less true just because education’s skewed towards a college degree these days.

WorkHands is the soapbox upon which we’ll stand to announce to the rest of the country that this work continues with pride, and that the people who perform it are quiet heroes, even if they’ll never see themselves that way.

 

 

WorkHands is Live at Laney College in Oakland!

laney logo

It’s finally here: Launch Day!

Well, kind of.

This morning we launched the site for students in skilled trades programs at Laney College in Oakland, CA. We’re also asking some friends, family and our industry experts like Buzz and Lawrence to build out their own profiles over the next few weeks as we prepare to let in all of those users who’ve been asking for invites these past few months.

We couldn’t be more excited about reaching this point and finally getting real people onto our site. We’ve been working hard for months and this launch has long been the “finish line” we had our eyes on. We’re incredibly thankful for the support we’ve gotten from Laney College’s faculty leading up to this launch — allowing us to demo for their students and providing us with valuable feedback before we’d even launched.

Overall, we’re happy with what we’ve built, but we’ve also got our eyes on what’s next. Having new members join WorkHands to create their profiles is great. Getting feedback from students on what they like (and don’t like) is exciting. Helping students stand out in their job search is really exciting (and our real goal).

And really, launch day is all about that inflection point. For the WorkHands team, today is a milestone that represents the “end” of lots of hard work. For our new members, today is the beginning of a new web experience through which they can represent their unique skillsets online.

WorkHands has a long way to go, but as of today, we’re off and running.

Why the name WorkHands?

work hands

There’s a story around the turn of the century about a man, working a white collar job, whose grandmother looks at his hands and tells him he doesn’t work. People who work have callouses on their hands, blisters, and dirt under their fingernails when they come home, and this man had none of that.

It seems we’d get along well with that grandmother as that’s what WorkHands is all about.

It’s for people who, at the end of a hard day’s work, wear their work on their hands. It’s for people who have to reach for the heavy duty Boraxo soap, who dry their hands with rags rather than towels, and then bandage up that cut in their finger that’s been ignored all day long.

We’re often asked who WorkHands is for — workers in the trades or skilled trades? Really, we don’t see a difference. If you have work hands at the end of the day, WorkHands is for you.

 

Photo courtesy of: xxmachonexx

How we’re different than AngiesList

WHlogo

WorkHands isn’t AngiesList. (No kidding.) It’s not Yelp, Thumbtac, TaskRabbit, or any other service that allows consumers to hire workers in the trades.

All of those other sites cater to consumers, first, and workers, second. Rather than have control, small business contractors and the skilled trades workers are forced to sit idly by while consumers rate and define their work for them. In some cases, workers even have to pay a bounty to take back some of their reputation from the commenters on these sites.

We don’t know how this relationship came to be, but we think it’s backwards. Workers and small businesses should be able to represent themselves.

To do that, we need a place exclusively for workers, and that’s where WorkHands comes in.

Why we’re building WorkHands

antique hands

So why are we building WorkHands, anyways?

It’s not, as most in Silicon Valley immediately assume, because we need an easier way to find a plumber, electrician, contractor, etc. In fact, we joke that we ‘don’t really care about the consumer.’ Why’s that? Well, consumers have LOTS of tools. Consumers have LOTS of tools because the people building the web are typically consumers and, therefore, they build their own tools.

We’re building WorkHands because we think the web’s merely scratched the surface in terms of needs for workers in the skilled trades. We’re building WorkHands because workers in the skilled trades need a place to track their careers, find jobs, and win bids. We’re building WorkHands because we believe too few of the people who build websites are connected to the people who fix their plumbing, their cars, build their homes, etc., and as a result, these workers web needs are ignored.

Maybe there hasn’t been as much of a need for WorkHands in the past. Maybe that’s why there are so few web tools built for the skilled trades. Maybe workers in the skilled trades didn’t want to use the web for their careers in the past. However, in this always-on, location aware, picture-sharing world we now live in, we refuse to think that’ll continue.

The possibilities for improving skilled trades worker’s ability to get real-time access to information, real-time location awareness, and the ability to capture their work better than ever before opens up a world of possibilities where technology can work with the workers of this country, rather than against them.

The blue collar web needs a back-bone for all of these services, and that’s where we come in. WorkHands is just the start.

 

Photo courtesy of: ookami_dou