There are a few things that you should know about the current state of the oil and gas industry before seeking out your first role. The Hays Oil and Gas Salary Guide has found that 25% of the overall oil and gas workforce (the Baby Boomer generation) are expected to retire in the next 5-10 years. The retirement of this large proportion of the workforce means that in the next decade new opportunities should arise for Generation Y workers looking to make their way in the industry.
However, competition for positions in the sector is always fierce – largely owing to the fact that graduates can expect to start on a salary around and upwards of £30,000 per year. Cost saving measures implemented by oil and gas companies since the beginning of this year, resulting from the fall in oil prices, have also led to a drop in new hires in almost all regions.
According to the Hays Oil & Gas Global Salary Guide 2016, skills shortages were the number one concern for employers in the oil and gas sector for the year. Ideally, it’s the responsibility of the employer to facilitate a knowledge transfer from the retiring generation to those just starting out in the sector, however, where they are not forthcoming you need to be taking the initiative for yourself.
All things considered, the oil and gas industry is known traditionally as a tricky industry to break into, so make sure you prepare yourself sufficiently by following these steps:
1. Find a mentor
Seek out a mentor first from familiar circles which you’ve already established (contacts from university, internships etc.), as well as connecting with professionals you admire via LinkedIn. Never hesitate to ask for advice; most people are often very generous in offering it.
2. Seize each opportunity
On the job experience is a hard thing to come by, however it’s usually the thing employers value most. Because of this you can’t be picky when offered opportunities which ask you to work slightly unorthodox hours or relocate to an unfamiliar location.
If you want to be successful in the oil and gas sector then it’s likely you’ll have to do some grafting initially – meaning physical labour. Don’t shy away from jobs which sound too mentally taxing or physically gruelling. Instead expect and prepare yourself for long hours and hard work.
If you find that this type of role is not for you then at least try to learn something from it. You can always take something away from every experience; you need to look at it objectively and ask yourself “what should/could I have done differently?” In doing so you’ll be more confident and competent next time around. Take a look at the online resources that go into more detail into the full range of positions available.
3. Have a five year plan
You should always be thinking a few years ahead. If you’ve completed your higher education then hopefully you have undertaken a couple of different summer internships – although degrees in physics, engineering, maths and so on are important, what employers really value is hands on experience. This is usually a pre-requisite for getting your foot in the door for a first full time oil and gas position.
Larger firms such as Shell, BP, E.ON and ExxonMobil offer a number of schemes across the full range of oil and gas roles (engineering, business and science). Smaller firms, on the other hand, will understandably offer fewer positions, however your role within the business will likely be greater. The pros and cons of working in a big versus a small sized business are outlined here. Do your research to make sure that you’re applying to schemes which both fit well with your degree and your aspirations.
"You should always be thinking a few years ahead"
Summer internship or graduate scheme experience will be invaluable in helping you to quickly decide which specific role you are best suited to. From this you can then plan with a fair amount of accuracy your future career path. Specialists, those who demonstrate real proficiency in a particular field, are often preferred to those with a more general, unspecific background; so it pays to have a clear understanding of your expertise and ambitions.
4. Diversify your knowledge
However, whilst you want to be able to present your expertise as consistent and unified, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t acquire as much wide-ranging knowledge as possible. Diversify your knowledge, and try to pick up information about the oil and gas industry wherever you can. One place you can start is with the Hays Oil & Gas Global Salary Guide.
Improve your soft skills
Soft skills are just as valuable in and oil and gas workplace environment as they are in any other, perhaps more so. Technical skills are often the criteria that will earn you an interview with an employer, however the actual job offer frequently comes down to factors such as communication skills, leadership abilities and self-awareness.
Soft skills are so highly regarded by employers because of how diverse both the workforce and the workplace can be. Read more about what type of person it takes to excel in oil and gas in one of our previous blogs.
5. Build a robust industry network
Never underestimate the power of networking. Once you’ve acquired all the requisite skills and knowledge for your first oil and gas position, then it’s just a matter of sourcing as many opportunities as possible.
LinkedIn is a great place for this, specifically Hays LinkedIn Oil and Gas Careers Forum which has over 60,000 members. Hays have established a vast network of oil and gas employers over the years, and job seekers can take advantage of this by contacting their local team through our website.
"Let your opinion and insight on developments within the oil and gas world act as an extension to your CV."
Networking doesn’t just mean sending emails or adding people on LinkedIn though, it also involves promoting yourself. Sing and shout about your expertise and capabilities as much as possible. A good way to do this is to engage in relevant forums, discussions and groups (such as the aforementioned Hays Oil and Gas Careers Forum), but also to publish and share your own material. Let your opinion and insight on developments within the oil and gas world act as an extension to your CV.
In order to break into the oil and gas sector you need to be proactive in your job search. It’s up to you to do all you can to seek and then seize opportunities, not all of which will benefit you immediately. Make yourself known within oil and gas networks, formulate a five year career plan, improve your knowledge and skillset and then contact us at Hays to discover your next opportunity. Then, sooner rather than later, you should begin to forge your path to career success.