This economy has really put the "blue" in blue-collar workers and there's good reason to feel discouraged: unemployment has hit the blue-collar sector especially hard. A December 2009 study by Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University showed that for each available job in the manufacturing sector, there were 12.5 unemployed people fighting for the spot. Things are even worse in the construction industry, where there were 24.5 unemployed people for every job opening. (For more, check out Top 6 Ways To Recession-Proof Your Job.)

And while blue-collar work has always tended to be physically demanding, these jobs have gotten even tougher as companies try to make do with fewer employees. Not surprisingly, many blue-collar workers want to make the jump to the white-collar world. Here are some tips to increase your odds of a successful transition.

IN PICTURES: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs

  1. Master Must-Have Skills
    Obviously, you can't get an MBA overnight, but there are a few basic skills that are essential for white-collar hopefuls. For example, in today's office setting, technology rules. You need basic computer skills, of course, but you also must know your way around a spreadsheet and be able to send instant messages and texts. Also, brush up on social media sites, as virtually all companies use at least some of them. If you have a teenager or pre-teen in the house, they can give you a crash course.

  2. Revamp Your Resume
    Before applying for any openings, give your resume a "white-collar makeover." You want to emphasize any supervisory experience you have had, plus anything in your background related to planning, strategy, problem-solving, etc. Choose your words carefully.

    "It's worth spending some time to research the latest buzzwords and technical terms related to your target position or industry," says Dion Lim, president and chief operating officer of This is especially true if you're submitting a resume online, where the system may automatically search resumes for pertinent keywords.

  3. Emphasize Universal and Transferable Skills
    Most likely, you already possess some skills and traits widely coveted by employers in all sectors. Lim suggests highlighting things like your ability to multitask, experience working under pressure, a knack for resourcefulness, critical thinking skills and a positive attitude.

    IN PICTURES: 7 Interview Don'ts

  4. Look the Part
    It may seem unfair, but appearances count, especially in this competitive job market. The interviewer needs to be able to picture you in the position. Find out the standard office attire for the job you want and then show up in the interview dressed appropriately.

  5. Be Smart with Your Job Search
    Don't bother checking out the classifieds, as most white-collar jobs aren't there. Instead, look on sites like LinkedIn and Professional organizations related to your target industry can also be a good source of job leads. (For more, check out 5 Tips For Finding Your Perfect Job Online.)

  6. Start with the Obvious
    Probably the easiest route is to aim for the white-collar level of your current job. So, if you're a machine operator in a production facility, you would pursue opportunities in plant management. Likewise, in construction you would look into job site management positions. Those guys on the construction site wearing the dress shirt, tie and white hard hat? Find out what their titles are, and keep an eye out for any openings.

  7. Network and Make Connections Constantly
    Any savvy job seeker knows the importance of networking. Choose your hangouts wisely; search for places that cater to a white-collar crowd. Get in the habit of realizing everyone you meet could be a potentially valuable contact. Collect business cards, and always have your cell phone handy so you can add new connections to your contact list quickly. (For some tips on which fields to look into, check out 6 Sectors That Are Creating Jobs.)

  8. Be Prepared to Keep Networking
    The "schmoozing" doesn't stop once you've gotten some leads - or even when you've landed the job. Today's business world is all about networking and work-related socializing, says personal finance expert Manisha Thakor. "Going to lunch with co-workers and participating in after-work events is actually a good investment in your career path."

    To limit the impact on your budget, Thakor suggests using a service like ZashPay that allows co-workers to chip in for a tab - or reimburse the person who laid out the cost of a business expense - using their e-mail or cell phone number.

The Bottom Line
Joining the white-collar ranks may take some effort and a little bit of research - and perhaps even a few new wardrobe essentials. But targeting your job search and playing up your strengths can greatly increase your chances of making the leap. (For more, check out 7 Jobs Companies Are Desperate To Fill.)

Find out what happened in financial news this week with Water Cooler Finance: The New iPod And The Roller Coaster Market.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Small RIAs: How to Level the Playing Field

    In order to compete with larger firms, small RIAs have to get a little creative. Here are a few ways to kickstart growth.
  2. Taxes

    Top Tips for Minimizing Taxes on Severance Pay

    A look at the top ways to lessen the tax burden on severance pay.
  3. Retirement

    These Are the Top Jobs for Retirees

    Learn some of the best jobs available for retirees who want to stay busy. These include retail, driving, call center work and tutoring.
  4. Personal Finance

    8 Profitable Majors For The College-Bound In 2015

    Choose your college major wisely to justify the rising cost of higher education. Here are 8 majors that lead to good jobs and high salaries.
  5. Professionals

    Scholar vs. Entrepreneur: What's Your Calling?

    You don't need a bachelor's degree to launch your own company. But which path — school or entrepreneurship — offers a better start to your work life?
  6. Personal Finance

    8 Reasons Why Valued Employees Quit

    Salaries are important, but retaining top employees requires more than just providing competitive pay.
  7. Professionals

    How Advisors Can Minimize Their Own Risks

    Risk management is important in any enterprise. But when it comes to the financial advisory business, the stakes are higher.
  8. Personal Finance

    Top 5 Ways to Retain Your Best Employees

    You need to think beyond salary to make the most talented people want to stay on for the long term.
  9. Professionals

    The Financial Advisory Business: More Women Wanted

    It's no secret that women are underrepresented in the financial advisory business. Here are some reasons why and what's being done about it.
  10. Professionals

    Why Women Choose Women for Financial Advice

    Women often prefer female financial advisors because client and advisor can relate to each other on a variety of levels.
  1. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    A federal law designed to ensure equal pay for all workers, regardless ...
  2. Age Discrimination In Employment ...

    A federal statute protecting "certain applicants and employees" ...
  3. Society of Actuaries (SOA)

    The SOA is a professional organization for actuaries in the U.S., ...
  4. Networking

    A process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas ...
  5. Credit Business Associate - CBA

    A designation awarded to those who show mastery in financial ...
  6. Unsolicited Application

    1. In insurance, this is a request for life insurance coverage ...
  1. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    The asset management industry has a variety of different career paths. Depending on what asset management area you would ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Other than accounting, what does a corporate finance job involve?

    While a corporate finance job almost always involves accounting in some capacity, there are many additional job duties and ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What qualities are necessary to be an effective member of the c-suite in a publicly-traded ...

    Several qualities are needed to be a member of the c-suite of a publicly traded company. The c-suite is business jargon term ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Which professional athletes are on pace to join Michael Jordan as billionaires?

    Michael Jordan is perhaps one of the most well-known and richest athletes in the world. However, two notable athletic giants ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!