IT jobs just aren’t for software companies anymore. If you are an IT professional, you can find careers in many types of industries, including IT jobs in the oil and gas industry. If you are considering moving from a software company to the energy industry, you should prepare yourself for a potential shift in work culture. Whether it is valid or not, software companies have gained a reputation for being casual in dress code, hours, and language. That isn’t to say that the work is lacking or its people are not professional, but acknowledging and adjusting to a different work culture can be difficult.
Of course, some of the fundamentals are the same – hard work, excellent communication skills - but it’s the differences can make or break your chances for success during your search for a new IT job. Here are a few tips for you to consider when changing to a career in the oil and gas industry:
Do your homework
You have the skills, you’ve updated your resume, and you’re ready for your job search. But if you have spent most of your time in the software industry, you may lack knowledge about how IT jobs in the oil and gas industry differ from those in software, so you need to do some homework. What can you find out about this new industry, about the organization to which you want to apply, about the job you’re interested in? Your starting point is the company web site, which can be filled with useful nuggets of information. Online forums, networking sites, maybe even oil and gas conferences can all contribute to your search. Recruiters can also help, as well as contacting the Human Resources departments for likely energy companies. Do you know anyone who has worked or is working in engineering jobs in energy? Personal insight can say a lot.
While you might be used to a casual and friendly workplace, during your interview process you are likely to be talking to executives who won’t know you or your workplace cultural background. Therefore, it is paramount that you be professional. Friendly banter can come later when the time is right and you have discovered what their “casual” is.
While this may sound like a contradiction to the previous point, it really isn’t. Being professional doesn’t mean robotic or purely serious – it means knowing when to smile, and when to laugh. Don’t be best buddies, but a friendly greeting and a smile can go a long way.
I spy with my little eye…
Right from the moment you walk into the building for an interview, you can start to contrast the differences in work cultures. How do others dress, especially those in IT? How do they address their co-workers and their managers? The glimpses you get of the office during your interview can provide strong clues as to the work culture that you may enter. Look around and take as many notes as you can.
Above all, you need to be yourself. Regardless of industry or position, the career and workplace culture has to be the right fit, not just for the organization but also for yourself. Trying something new can open many opportunities that you may not know existed, but it is as equally important to know when the change isn’t right either – no one wants to feel stuck in a place where they are uncomfortable or feel they don’t belong.
Changing from one industry to another where there may be a radical shift in corporate culture can be a stressful time. By researching options, evaluating opportunities, and making a good first and second impression, you can help make that transition easier. When your career in a new industry begins, it will be as smooth as possible and you will be well prepared for a long, rewarding, and enriching experience.