There are always plenty of companies looking for welding subcontractors, and you owe it to yourself to put in the best possible position to earn their business. There will always be plenty of competition for any welding job worth having, and you’re going to have to be well-prepared if you hope to get the job. Here’s some information about how the bidding process works for welding jobs, and a few steps that you can take to ensure that you’ll stand out among all of the applicants!
How to Bid on Welding Jobs and Win in 2022
You should never assume that any welding job is out of your reach, because many young welders have submitted the winning bid for jobs they never imagined they'd get. They also managed to do it without having to undercut their competition or take any shortcuts.
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once famously remarked that "you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take," and that’s definitely the case when it comes to welding jobs. Even if you don’t earn the contract, you’ll develop valuable experience each time that you submit a bid. That experience will help you get new welding business in the future as long as you're persistent! If a hiring manager keeps seeing your name come up, they are going to remember it every time someone else they hire doesn’t work out.
If there was a sure-fire method that could teach you how to get welding contracts every time, all young welders would use it. It’s also difficult to demonstrate how talented you are on paper, and hiring managers will often defer to candidates with more experience. If the business is a union shop, seniority will always come into play. But bidding for welding jobs indicates your interest and ensures that you’ll be considered for the job.
The good news is that if you live in a right-to-work state you won’t have to be a union member to work, and many companies now outsource specialty jobs to contractors instead of assigning the work to their in-house welders. The path to welding jobs isn’t exactly a straight line anymore, and you’ll need to leave no stone unturned when seeking new welding jobs. This means networking, asking for referrals and searching online.
Joining a union or a professional organization will also show you plenty of great ideas about how to find welding work. Cast as wide of a net as you can, and make sure that you submit a great-looking proposal when you see the welding job listings that you like!
1. Write a welding business proposal
Small business welding bids are just like any other type of business proposal. Your business proposal is your "sales pitch" where you demonstrate your ability to provide the scope of welding services that they’re looking for. Once you find welding jobs online or through your contacts, they will often provide you with a Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP is a business or agency’s way to advertise welding projects to sell, and will contain specific instructions about how to submit your bid.
If you’re dealing with a government agency, the RFPs will often be a little difficult to locate and the written requirements will be very lengthy. Fortunately, you will be provided very specific instructions. The instructions might even specify what type of font that you can use and what size. But welders are accustomed to precision work, so just be patient and thorough. Many RFPs also offer a helpline if you have questions, because they want you to submit a well-written proposal.
Make sure that your bid discusses your qualifications thoroughly, but keep it brief. You don’t have to include every single welding job that you’ve had on your resume if you have a lot of experience. Select the experience that you have that meets the requirements for the job. If you’re less experienced, it’s okay to go into a little more detail about the types of work that you’ve done.
You should also consider any soft skills that you have that might be relevant. There’s not a lot of customer contact on most construction sites, but hiring managers enjoy finding welders who also have people skills. If your writing skills aren’t quite on par with your welding skills, be sure to use a spelling and grammar checker on your proposal to show the hiring manager that you can demonstrate proper attention to detail.
2. Pitch across various platforms
When you’re looking for a job as a contract welder, there are plenty of places to look. If you specialize in small weld, MIG, TIG or stick welding, these are just a few of the platforms that you should consider when you're looking for welding jobs:
- Chamber of Commerce - Joining your chamber of commerce as a professional member can be a great networking opportunity that gets your foot in the door with a lot of local businesses. Even if you’re not a member, many local chambers of commerce also provide job boards to connect you with businesses that are outsourcing welding jobs.
- Referrals - Word-of-mouth advertising is better than just about any other type of advertising there is, so don’t be afraid to ask your satisfied clients for referrals. Local welding associations and unions will also often provide referral links to your welding business.
- Local and state authorities - Government projects keep welders busier than many other categories of employment, so be sure to check with your local authorities. Many state and local agencies issue a certain number of RFPs each year, so be sure to pay attention to deadlines and submit your bids within the submission window.
- Networking - Welders are people who like to work with their hands, but networking is equally important. Attending seminars and conferences might not lead directly to jobs, but it does let the community know that you’re available for work when they need your services.
- Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) - NGOs often hire a lot of contracts for temporary or ad hoc projects. Be sure that you’re listed in their database as an approved contractor for fast-track access to projects. Once you create your profile, you can apply for as many welding jobs as you like. Be sure to also subscribe for email notifications so that you'll stay informed about all current RFPs.
- Create a website - Having an online presence is crucial, and it gives your welding business a professional touch. Even if you’re not an experienced designer there are plenty of easy-to-use templates to help you set up a great looking website in minutes!
- Make site visits - Just like any other business, you shouldn’t be afraid to do a little cold calling on jobsites. As long as you’re not getting in the way, meeting the welders and the hiring manager on the site is a great way to establish some goodwill and get remembered when future welding projects become available.
3. Submit a strong bid package
Once you find the right welding contracts for a bid, your proposal needs to effectively demonstrate your ability to meet the conditions for the job. When you bid on welding jobs, make sure that you create a bid package that follows the required format and addresses all the terms and conditions of the RFP. Be sure to attach all the requested documents and submit the bid by the deadline.
Your bid package should include:
- Your proof of business insurance.
- Any required licensure or certifications, relevant experience, education.
- A list of references.
Try not to get overwhelmed by the process or discouraged if you don’t have immediate success. Even the most seasoned welders aren’t always a lock for every job. You can safely assume that the other applicants will be equally qualified to do the work, which is why you really need to learn how to shine on paper.
Make it a point to learn from the process and make a note of what works and what doesn’t. Many applicants are afraid to ask why they weren’t offered a position, but it can get you valuable feedback to help you improve your bid package.
Hiring managers aren’t obligated to tell you why you didn’t get the job, but sometimes they might be willing to give you some tips to make you a more attractive candidate for future jobs. Don’t be afraid to hire a professional to help you tune up your bid package. A modest one-time expense might be the perfect investment to make your welding career take off!
4. Price your bid accurately
When it's time to decide how to bid welding jobs, many young welders might be inclined to start submitting lowball bids to earn some new business right away. One advantage that welders who are just starting out have over more experienced welders is lower overhead, but you should set your prices as high as you can at the start. Make sure that you do your due diligence and determine the fair market value for your services. Be sure to also research the cost of materials to deliver accurate pricing.
If you’re a seasoned welder, your welding contract bids should be commensurate with your experience. Many employers are interested in finding quality welders and are prepared to pay accordingly. You can always place competitive bids for jobs that you can do well at a lower price, but it’s often a better idea to hold out for the right job than to develop a reputation for working cheap. Low cost doesn’t mean low quality, but you’ll be much happier and do better work when you’re earning competitive pay.
Where to Find Welding Jobs
Your local chamber of commerce is usually a great place to start, and they’ll have resources to help you find the employers in your area. Most of your online job boards will give you plenty of time and information, but you shouldn’t rely on websites alone to find steady work.
In addition to joining your local trade union or professional organizations, joining civic organizations in your community is a great way to make your presence known. You don’t have to attend every event, but they are a great way to demonstrate your investment in the community.
People at networking events aren’t always in the market for your services, but they can often be a good source of "soft" information that can lead to employment. If you live in a small community, you want to get to know the movers and shakers as soon as you can!
Welding bid site visits
Visiting a job site is a great way to get a feel for the job conditions and enables you to get an accurate estimate. If there’s work in progress, be sure to check in with the foreman before you walk around any work areas. Confirm what permits you’ll need and that your insurance meets their requirements. You’re only making your best guess when it comes to time estimates, so always under-promise and over-deliver.
Meet the job poster's requirements
Whether it’s a help wanted sign in a shop window or a multiple-page RFP from a government agency or NGO, be sure that you read the job listing carefully. You’ll want to make sure that your bid package fully addresses all of the project’s needs and requirements. Be prepared to provide proof of welding insurance, welding certifications, professional references and any other required documentation. Be specific about your material and labor costs and add a 10% contingency to budget for unexpected time and cost overruns.
Be sure that your bid package is as thorough and detailed as your welding work. Be sure to proofread your document multiple times and check all of your math. A small error can cost you money, or it can even cost you the welding job! Just take your time, pay attention to every detail and continue to do great work on every job!
To learn more about bidding welding jobs or for information about insurance coverage for other jobs, contact CoverWallet online or at (646) 844-9933.