As far as hiring is concerned, the oil and gas industry is in a difficult phase at the moment.
Widespread layoffs coupled with minimal hiring means there is a large pool of qualified candidates all clamoring for a limited number of open jobs.
Now more than ever, it is important to use a professional approach in your job search and employ every tool available to make yourself stand out from the pack.
Companies that have job openings in the current environment can afford to be very selective, searching for candidates with exactly the right combination of skills and experience. Many hiring managers are turning first to consulting engagements with the option to convert the consultant to a full-time employee should they prove productive and compatible. This is especially so with "start-ups" that are building portfolios, needing consulting help during the evaluation phase and full-time staff once they start to grow.
How do you get the attention of these hiring managers?
Getting an Interview
Whether for full time or consulting roles, a well-prepared résumé is essential.
The résumé is a document almost every professional has prepared at some point in their career. Writing one can be a daunting task, trying to summarize a lifetime of professional achievements and skills without alienating the reader within the first six seconds.
What should you include? What should you leave out?
One way to approach this problem is to answer the question, "What am I trying to achieve with this résumé?"
"One vital misconception regarding the role of a résumé is that a résumé will get you a job. In reality, your goal when writing a résumé should be to get an interview," notes Hal Miller, president of Subsurface Consultants & Associates, a specialist geoscience consulting and training company. "Your success in a job search will hinge on your interview, and a well-written résumé will get you that interview."
With that in mind, résumés should contain enough information to quickly catch the attention of a decision maker and ensure you get invited to that critical, face-to-face interview.
For positions in the geology, geophysics and reservoir engineering community, there are three key pieces of information for which recruiters and managers are looking:
♦ What are your areas of specialization within your technical discipline?
♦ What geographical areas of the world, plays, and depositional environments or reservoir types have you worked?
♦ What software are you capable of operating?
"When companies engage a consultant, they typically have a specific problem that needs to be resolved," observed Tim Riepe, business development director with SCA. "It is likely to be project-specific and have defined technical deliverables, with the tasks performed on whichever software the company uses. No learning curves, no training."
A good résumé containing the right information will allow a recruiter (and, later, a hiring manager) to identify your suitability for a specific assignment almost immediately, so focus as much of your résumé as you can on the three key areas above. Keep it factual, objective and detailed enough to supply sufficient evidence that you can provide the solution to the company's problem.
One tool that could make your résumé stand out would be to attach a map that shows the specific areas or fields that you have worked in the vicinity of the hiring company's area of interest.
Making First Contact
Making initial contact with a company or applying for a job can also be a minefield.
After interviewing hundreds of job seekers over the past few years, we rarely speak with people who have been able to successfully control their job searching activities solely through online job applications. Most applicants report significant challenges to measuring success from corporate website applications. Unless you get the call to interview, there is rarely sufficient feedback to know if you were competitive, for what reason you were rejected, or if your résumé was considered at all.
As a consulting company, SCA makes new connections with highly qualified and experienced technical professionals on a daily basis.
"It never fails to amaze me that these applicants seem to fall through the cracks because the online résumé gathering systems can't make the connections between the right candidate and the right job," said Matt Nowak, SCA business development director. "Hiring managers approach specialist consulting companies like SCA with in-house technical capabilities to identify the right person because they know that the consultant will be screened, vetted, interviewed, and referenced before a résumé ever reaches the hiring manager's desk."
It is a good practice to research and interview any recruitment company that approaches you to be sure that you are getting the best possible representation.
Do they understand your technical discipline?
Do they have a good network of hiring manager contacts or do they simply submit résumés to online portals?
Do you have colleagues or contacts within your network who can recommend an agency and vouch for their service?
Although it may be tempting to send your résumé to every available job posting for which you feel qualified, such a scattergun approach can make you look desperate and significantly lower your perceived market value. Furthermore, applying for a job for which you are simply not qualified makes any recruiter question your ability to understand your own capabilities, or even to read a job description.
When applying for a new position, less is generally more. Make all applications focused and, wherever possible, add a cover sheet or customize your résumé summary to detail exactly why your skills and experience are a match for the role.