The world runs on oil and gas – that’s a given. The onshore and offshore industry has weathered the recession, and advancements in drilling technologies will attract more job hunters to the industry over the next decade.
If you’re one of them, be prepared to compete for energy jobs at nearly every level. While no one exactly relishes the process of the job application and interview, you can take steps to help enhance your chances for success.
Here are seven tips – plus one reminder – that can make a difference in your job hunt
Crafting your resume
- Play fair. Use complete honesty in describing your education, energy-industry experience and hard/soft skills. With the glut of competition for every energy job, employers are bound to perform stringent background checks. Even if you have gotten the job, a discovery of false information after the fact can quickly send you packing – just ask (former) Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson.
- Include strategic keywords. If the company you’re pitching to is like most these days, they’re using resume-screening software designed to identify the words and phrases most relevant to the job. So if your experience includes work in oil sands, or rig operations, or geophysics, pepper your resume with these terms.
- Highlight the results. Too many jobseekers create resumes and cover letters that essentially list job responsibilities. That’s a waste of time – your employer already knows what kinds of skills match specific energy jobs. So instead of describing the daily routine of a drilling field superintendent, for instance, use your resume to describe the results you implemented – whether it was heightened production, employee retention or safety improvements.
At the interview
- Look the part. When you walk into the hiring manager’s office, your appearance instantly becomes your trademark. Emerging jobs in oil and gas range from entry level to executive, and career experts have long advised jobseekers to dress one level above the job they want. Show the hiring manager you mean business by giving your attire and grooming your best shot. Men, that means a conservative suit and a tie. Women will project executive power in a skirt suit with coordinated blouse and pumps (nothing open-toed, please). And yes, even if the job involves the thankless tasks of a rig hand, come to the interview neatly attired with fingernails trimmed, shoes un-scuffed, and dangling jewelry left at home.
- Practice the “elevator pitch.” If you had just 10 seconds – about the length of an elevator ride up a few floors – to tell someone what makes you special, what would you say? Have your summary at the ready when the dreaded question, “Tell me something about yourself” comes up. Keep the pitch concise and benefit-oriented, but don’t sound over-rehearsed. Wrap it up with a clear statement of your interest in the hiring company.
- Ask informed questions. By informed, we mean questions that make it clear you’ve done your homework. For instance, you need not be such an insider that you can drop slang like “doodlebugger” or “doghouse,” but if you have to ask what a flare is, get tripped up when someone mentions E&P, or want to know where the Alberta Shales are, you may come off as less than credible for certain jobs in energy. Though it’s acceptable to inquire about a potential employer’s industry outlook and long-term goals, you’ll look even better if you demonstrate a knowledge of the company’s history as well.
- Don’t talk money. Not in the first interview, anyway. If there’s anything that brands you as shallow, it’s a digression on salary, bonuses or vacation time when you should be entirely focused on learning about the job and convincing the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate. You can easily find information on energy industry salary ranges from reputable online sources, while industry organizations like API can give you a broad overview of working conditions both onshore and offshore.
And finally …
Remember to say thanks. You’d be surprised how many job hunters forget this little gesture of courtesy. Dropping a card or email after the interview thanking the hiring manager can stand you apart from the crowd. And it’s a great opportunity to reinforce your interest in the position.