I know the answer before I ask it:  Me, "What about candidates from Oil & Gas?"

HR: "Not. Interested."

The reason?  Perception of the industry and past experience, mostly.  

Across the country, hiring managers from outside of the Oil and Gas sector have a history of turning away quality candidates because, historically, Oil and Gas candidates are motivated by money and are notoriously disloyal *pause for effect*.  Ouch, that was harsh, you grumble.  What a crock, you say!  How dare you, the Oil & Gas crowd chants!  We are the economic engine of the...blah blah blah...

Everybody take a breath.  Getting frustrated won't solve the problem because frustration is what created it in the first place.

Now we all know that not all employers are passing on O&G candidates, so let's set that aside.  There are plenty of businesses and industries who have deep enough pockets to consider a candidate from Northern BC, Alberta or Saskatchewan without much worry about meeting their (variable) financial requirements.  However, on the flip-side of that coin, there are many who cannot or will-not take the chance.  Through no fault of their own, they are being instructed by those on the ground or those in the offices on-high to pass on candidates with oil in their recent history...and it's tough to blame them for that because they're protecting their bottom line.  The perception comes from very real and very expensive experience.

Now before you get all hot under the collar, this situation isn't new...it's been going on for as long as there were bloated paychecks and bitumen being hoovered out of the earth.  It's been happening as long as 27 year old Jimmy was cruising around in a $90,000 dollar SuperDuty with a $130,000 dollar fifth wheel and sunning himself on his days off on his $75,000 Ski Nautique along with his buddies who all just got back from riding their Harley Davidson's to Vegas....Oh, and Jimmy, with his truck and his trailer and his boat and his Harley and quite likely his house, wife (high-school sweetheart doncha know) and his two adorable kids, ages 2 and 5....doesn't have a penny in his savings.  Darn it, Jimmy!  You're the stereotype!

But why are we seeing such challenges with Oil & Gas Candidates wanting to leave their sector?  Well, to start with, these decisions are being based on very real past experience as well as preconceived expectations.  As an O&G candidate you may be facing challenges like;

  • "Their salary expectations are inflated"
  • "The environment is ever changing, ours is stable and too boring for them"
  • "Camp living is not the same as working and living at home"
  • Or the most common, "As soon as the price of oil goes back up, they're outa here".  

...and all this is happening before you even get through the door.  So the perception is that Oil & Gas candidates expect more and we (or they) simply cannot offer it.  Another hard truth?  Your flustered hiring manager is not wrong.

The facts are the facts, and those facts show that Oil & Gas breeds career movement.  It's interwoven into the very fabric of the industry and is readily seen in nearly any resume that comes from an Oil & Gas producing part of the world. Compare a resume from O&G with one from Forestry.  Now Mining.  Now the public service.  In comparison, the resume is often (although not always) looooong.   There's no use arguing the reasons behind it, because the situation is what it is whether you or I like it or not.  So how do we as an Agency and you as a Candidate combat it?  


Regardless of why you're on the market, we need to establish what motivates you.  *Hiring managers, pay attention here, this is important*.  WHY are you looking to leave oil and gas?  Are you one of the thousands of people displaced by the horrors of the Fort McMurray Fire?  Maybe you're missing seeing your kids grow up?  Are you in-between projects and looking for a different challenge?  Or are you looking for an industry with more stability that will allow you to sleep in your own bed tonight and reconnect with family and friends.  Regardless of your reasoning, we need to identify it and, more importantly, YOU need to be honest with yourself as to why you want something different, and you better do some serious soul searching prior to setting your sites on a new opportunity that will keep you home and hanging out at Soccer games with the family on Saturday. 

What I want Oil & Gas candidates to consider is this;  

  • It's not always easy to be home every day regardless of what you think you want.  Many Hiring Managers know this because they've seen families implode because Mom or Dad are now home every night and the dynamic shifts.  In fact, chances are good you know it too because you've seen it with coworkers or friends...so be honest with yourself when looking for change.
  • You will have to sell everybody  who's involved in the job-search that you're serious about a career outside of Oil & Gas.  From your first point of contact with your recruiter, to the client's HR person, to the Managers and Supervisors, to the psychometric testing you may find yourself slogging through over your morning coffee, everyone will be grilling you about what motivates you and you need to be prepared to answer truthfully and consistently.
  • In the event of the offer, be prepared.  Now you don't need to give yourself away, but be aware of what the salary expectations are for the role you are applying or interviewing for and do the math.  See if what will be coming in every month will work against what you have going out every month.  If it won't work, it won't work and no juggling can make it happen.  Be brutally honest with yourself, if you will be scraping by with this new job, it will only entertain you for so long before things get real and you need to make a choice about what you actually need to maintain your quality of life.

If you're not honest with yourself, you won't be honest with anyone.  The difference is, if you waste your own time, it's your own time to waste.  But if you waste the time of a recruiter, hiring manager, senior manager, etc, you'll never get another kick at it and will actually be perpetuating the stereotype that so many laid-off Oil & Gas workers are working so desperately to combat.   

It's a tough spot, but the world is changing. For better or for worse, we are already seeing corrections in salaries in the oil fields of Alberta and British Columbia.  Compassion is at an all-time high as a result of the horrendous fires in Fort Mac...the people care and want to help, but they also need to make sure they're making the most effective and prudent decision for their employer.  


And if you're a hiring manager or recruiter...consider is this; There are wonderful and motivated people leaving the Oil & Gas sector every day because they truly want change.  Money isn't everything and all the toys in the world can't bring back a 5 year old losing their first tooth or a child's graduation or missed wedding anniversaries or Christmas dinners.  Give them a second to pass the sniff test and take a look at why they're there.  

Geoff Simpson, Northern BC Recruitment for Excel Personnel in Prince George


Prince George Chamber of Commerce
Kamloops Chamber of Commerce
Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Home Builders Association
Thompson Region Division of Family Practice
Southern Interior Construction Association
Terrace  & District -  Kitimat Chamber of Commerce