Have we chosen a headline grabbing title, or is this just a new reality?
Of lately, it’s become a common theme, and we struggle to understand just why.
All industries evolve, and sometimes, as is the current case in oil and gas sector, that progression can be entirely regressive. Being unemployed, under-employed or filled with a deep sense of job insecurity is not just difficult, it’s life-changing and depressing. For those of us not experiencing any of these sensations just now, we are the lucky ones, but please spare a thought for those less fortunate than yourselves.
Launching an oil and gas executive search company just as the bottom fell out from the market has created the same sense of insecurity among all involved with the venture. We are surviving, as others are by dipping into our private reserves as best we can. The ‘rainy day’ fund is taking a substantial hit, and fast depleting. Survival instincts take effect, belts are tightened, and above all we have chosen to help others as best we can, dispensing free advice. The eventual hope is that the market will eventually recover and that as a result, our efforts will be rewarded.
So what is career advice these days, when it doesn’t automatically lead to a new job?
Why would anyone want to bother updating their CV or social media profile, when there is little to no chance of it leading to a job interview or next career step?
We can’t answer that question. After months, and perhaps even years of unsuccessfully trying to land another position in an environment where there are so few new roles available, a feeling of helplessness can soon develop.
Social media is often a platform to vent frustration; Why didn’t I get the job I applied for? Why didn’t I get feedback on my application? Was there even a job in the first place? Why wasn’t a message posted that indicated the job was closed to further applicants? The list goes on, but the theme remains the same.
Personal circumstances and opinions vary enormously. For many of us, this ‘lower for longer’ episode has awakened a new dawn, perhaps moving us to undertake a training course, or turning a hobby into a business. For some a shift to another industry has happened, or is contemplated, in particular for those of us lucky enough to have transferable skills.
But what about the rest of us, hanging on hoping for the shoots of recovery?
At NatResPro we don’t believe in giving up, or abandoning our dream, as our mission is something that has evolved over an almost 5-year period. The seeds were set after so many personal negative experiences in an overheated oil and gas jobs market. Unethical recruiting practices were rife. Experiencing first-hand the career damaging outcomes of the actions of recruiting agent who you don’t know, have never been connected to, and who works from an office thousands of miles away is nothing short of harrowing.
Our core values are very simple – we behaviour ethically by nurturing relationships and building trust.
We dispense free career advice, focused primarily on getting candidates to rethink and upgrade their CV’s. We offer those candidates a personal copy of the finished product, and we list them on the industry’s only fully vetted anonymous candidate database. We then determine what level of additional anonymity the candidate prefers, being contacted by employers directly, or requiring us to filter any enquiries.
We never share candidate identity with any third party, and especially recruiters on a mission to harvest CV’s.
All this takes a lot of time, between 4 and 8 hours for every candidate. And we don’t cut corners – as industry veterans undertake all our career assessments; technically experienced individuals who have often conducted final job interviews. To distinguish their job role, and avoid any confusion with ‘Recruiters’ we refer to these people as our Skill Pool Advisors, and all have a minimum of 20-years industry experience.
Nobody can change their career history, but we cannot and shouldn’t disguise the fact that every one of us has a very different experience. In today’s cost-conscious market the human factor is under scrutiny. Questions are often asked about specific experiences, especially when mistakes or misunderstanding can have significant financial consequences.
So what about the advice then?
We all know that a Driller is a Driller, and a Drilling Engineer is a Drilling Engineer. We’re adaptable individuals and can fit into any role, and besides in 2013, when we last applied for a new job nobody was asking us for a subset of skills, so why are they doing so in 2016? The simple reason is that employers can as they now have a pool of talent to choose from, a far cry from the situation back as recently as 2013. Employers can afford to be more specific, and picky, and ensure that their teams are an exact fit with their client’s project work scope.
Let’s look at a Chef, there are many types, and already there are many variations that come to mind, with the following examples as environments where a Chef could be employed;
- A Boutique Michelin-starred Restaurant serving only one-hundred covers a day.
- A Fast Food Diner serving one-thousand covers a day.
- A Warship at sea for a month at a time and with a crew of five-hundred.
- A School Canteen with two-thousand pupils.
We often see reality type TV programmes where Chef’s from one of the above are transplanted into one of the other Chef roles. For the sake of good TV, the results are often chaotic, but the message is clear – it is not always easy to change from one role to another, even though your job title remains the same. Each of the above roles has a unique set of challenges and a skill set that takes time to learn. Viewers and Chefs alike can conclude that each role is uniquely challenging, and mutual respect is acknowledged for the skills required to perform the differing roles.
So when an advert goes out for a Chef, it is likely to be a bit more specific. Perhaps you currently work in Michelin-starred restaurant but had previously worked on a warship. Both experiences are equally valid, and useful knowledge to a prospective employer.
Back to our Drillers, and Drilling Engineers, the same applies. Generic job descriptions are all too 2013 and fall way short of what’s expected on a CV in today’s competitive environment.
So in short, you need to sell yourself.
People that work in Drilling Contractor HR departments are well aware of the generic job scopes associated with each position in their organisation. Perhaps they are looking to re-start a Jack-up for a client in Qatar, drilling challenging HPHT ERD wells in a reservoir known for a high concentration of H2S. It is not difficult to imagine that they will start their search by looking for individuals with these core skill sets. Furthermore, any brief that is given to external recruiters will almost definitely contain a job description with at least some of these terms.
We all often mock recruiters for a lack of technical understanding, but our mockery is often misplaced. If recruiters are faced with hundreds or even thousands of applicants, of course, they have to be efficient, and some might argue ruthless in their role. CV’s will be scanned for the keywords that match their client’s requirements.
So in summary, our advice is simple – go out and sell yourself. Make sure that your CV tells any prospective employer exactly what experiences you have. You have 3-4 pages to do so.
Remove all generic descriptions, and replace them with relevant facts.
‘Driller’+ ‘Company’ + “North Sea” + ‘Generic Job Description’
… Will not get you noticed, and is highly unlikely to catch anyone’s eye.
‘Rig Type’ + ‘Operator Name’ + ‘Well Type’ + ‘Activity Type’
… Upgrades your CV to the elite class, and as a result, you will get noticed.
If nothing else, at least it will demonstrate a personal understanding of the activities that were ongoing at each of your career stages.
Sadly there wasn’t an ‘Exclusive Job Offer’ as a reward for reading this post, but if you now go away and take a few hours to upgrade the way you promote yourself, then just maybe the result will be that job you so desperately need.
Graduated with an Honours Geology Degree in 1987, and joined the oil and gas industry straight after. Worked across the globe for three major service companies and four operators up to 2015. Founded Natural Resource Professionals as a grassroots technical recruiter with a global reach.