'Linsanity' Highlights Recruitment Issue for O&G Industry


The hoopla of New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin is well-known -- a basketball player who was overlooked and underestimated by a number of colleges and professional teams until his performance during a Feb. 4 game at Madison Square Gardens turned him into a star.

Lin's efforts to improve his game since leaving Harvard University in 2010 show that with hard work, a player who was previously not thought of as a standout could defy expectations.

On the surface, Lin's story and the oil and gas industry would not appear to have anything in common. But some industry insiders say that oil and gas companies should take a lesson from Lin's story in their recruitment efforts.

Despite a shortage of workers, the oil and gas sector has not done enough to recruit workers from other industries, and in doing so, could be overlooking potential stars that, though they may not know industry jargon, could potentially go far in the industry.

According to one recruiter, project managers at some companies are still reluctant to look at workers from outside the oil and gas industry, despite the need for more workers and interest from qualified candidates from other fields. From a recruiting standpoint, this reluctance makes the already small pool of workers available at a time when the market is open and hot even smaller.

While some oil and gas companies have expanded their pool of potential workers by seeking to recruit former members of the military and former NASA employees, efforts made so far are still not enough to satisfy labor demand.

"We've been fighting for years to get project managers to look at workers with similar skills from other industries," said Angel Smith, lead international and Americas recruiting manager for Wood Group Plc.

For example, a company looking for an accounting manager may say they want somebody with oil and gas experience, but at the end of the day, what they really want is somebody with a finance background, Smith noted.

While some positions such as rig managers do require workers with several years of industry experience, some jobs such as mechanics or interoffice corporate employees could be filled by workers from other industries.

"They may not understand oil and gas terminology, but they can learn," Smith commented.

Despite rhetoric touted by industry officials that oil and gas companies need to do more to recruit workers from other industries as well as recent college graduates and high school students, recruiting efforts made so far are not happening across the board as much as Smith believes they should.

What should you do if you're looking to enter the oil and gas industry?

Smith advises jobseekers to examine the skills required and see what experience they have that closely matches that job. A mechanic who has worked on Rolls Royce engines in another industry can put that skill to use in the oil and gas sector.

Lack of time to train new recruits on oil and gas basics is one reason that project managers have been reluctant to look outside the sector, Smith noted. While Smith understands time can be an issue, she still believes more can be done for training.

Only seeking out job candidates with oil and gas experience means the process of filling a position will take longer, said Abhijeet Narvekar, co-founder of The FerVID Group, a Houston-based executive search firm that uses a technology-driven, expert-led recruiting solution.

However, engineers from the petrochemical and automotive industries who understand process knowledge in the supply chain have skills that can be applied to oil and gas.

"They might need training on terminology, but [training] would allow companies to find people much faster," said Narvekar.

Companies looking to hire only experienced oil and gas candidates may be doing so because they are unsure how long it will take to train a worker from another industry, or don't want to hold someone's hand. Still, Narvekar sees great opportunity to bring in engineers from California to work in the oil and gas industry, adding that high-tech companies in Austin are already doing so.

"They might need training on the terminology or the methodology, such as the scale of projects, which is different for building automobile versus drill bits, or the temperature or pressure, but a good engineering background can overcome this lack of experience," Narvekar commented.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com


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Patrick | Mar. 12, 2012
I also see a disconnect between HR and Operations in many cases where HR is looking for a certain skill set and what Operations is looking for or willing to accept is completely different. I would also suggest that anyone looking to get into the O&G sector also hit the web sites of some of the major companies.

Kevin Smith | Mar. 12, 2012
I feel this is also true of field personnel. Many companies in the oil and gas industry hire friends and family with no experience, but do not do the same for unknown applicants. It is hard for people without experience or oilfield contacts to get into the industry. The industry needs to hire more field hands that do not have experience or industry contacts.

John Maguire | Mar. 9, 2012
Good article. I am a project manager / planner / scheduler with additional computer programming skills. I moved from the Australian Mining sector into O & G (drilling contracting company ) some years back and can state that it was not hard - the guys Ive worked with have been very helpful with terminology and appreciate my broad experience from other fields. Some promotional opportunities (e.g operations manager) are obviously limited for lack of hand on / on the ground experience. I enjoy the good pay and time off

RBashir | Mar. 9, 2012
@lesli Ummmm. You might not want to use Kobe Bryant, because the Lakers are not doing will this year....

RBashir | Mar. 9, 2012
I agree with this. I am entry level chemical engineer. And even though my gpa was not a above a 3.0, I still maintained decent grades. Companies killed me with that 3.0 gpa jargon. I work but not in my field. Yet I still excel in my department, because I work hard, I learn things fast, my department allows me to give my technical advice and offer solutions. I work as a team when need to be and I work independently with little to know supervision. I also agree with Lennys Comment as well. Employers are obviously ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS DURING AN INTERVIEW. Personally me I been trying to get into R&D for two years now. My father made companies millions off of his inventions and has patents to back it up. And guess what his gpa is not a 3.0 neither. Yet I cant seem to break through. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX people. And at the poster Senior Process Engineer comment, I wonder what level did you start at, and who gave you a CHANCE to prove what you can do. Talk is cheap.

Josh Long | Mar. 9, 2012
Also another issue is, what about the employees already in the industry, who for a lack of better words " have payed their dues" and getting overlooked or passed up for promotions or a chance to better themselves because higher authority wants to place their relative or good friend in that position instead?

Josh Long | Mar. 9, 2012
I think this analogy is appsolutly right , I agree with Smith and Narvekar ! I cant count the times I have seen this myself . I have seen hard working individuals "fast learners" turned down , being told they need to have experience ! Well how are they going to get experience if no one will give them a chance ? This is crazy ! I have been in the oil and gas industry for 14 years now and have witnessed this almost the entire time . I think companys are missing out ! Maybe they have gotten so far past themselves to remember how they got started and where they came from !!! Just saying !

Karl Alfeld | Mar. 9, 2012
As a recruiter in Texas who has spent his adult life serving this industry I can share the following. The oil and gas industry does a pretty good job of moving people from other industries where it can. Many of the IT functions can easily move accross the board. Most of the Accountiong and finance positions except senior level have successfuly made transitions In enineering many have moved in the fluid processing field from oput side refining into refing whether it ias as a maint eng, process eng,proj mgr, HSE etc. It has been proven they csan make this work and they do do it. Where the real shortage is is in the geo sciences and petroleum engineering. In these highly technical areas, fitting into an established team is very difficult. This is a black science where experience and knowledge is critical in evaluatioin and decision making. We have not had enough graduates entering the geology and petroleum engineering disciplines the from the US in years. This is where the real pain in the industry exists. As the professionals are reaching retirement age and leaving there is a major gap in personnel and the need.

Jack Nelson | Mar. 9, 2012
Your article mentions Rig Managers, which I was until I became stupid and let alcohol take over. That is gone, but I am older, not a College graduate, so nobody wants me. I would like very much to be back in the industry I was in for more than 40 years. Had I been the Rig Manager for the Deepwater Horizon, things probably would have been different as the Supervisors on board would have known that if they wanted to keep their jobs they would call me right after the morning meeting and tell me what was going on. Not "oh well, that is what we have the big pinschers for". How stupid can that be.

Tashev | Mar. 9, 2012
To me it is very strange .How you can take a car mechanic and teach him about the all existing equipment on the rig site ( pumps, drawworks, BOP control units, BOP.Top Drive systems). They do not employ people having experience because of visa issues. The time to teach a car mechanic to rig mechanic the rig will blow out.

Peter Watts | Mar. 9, 2012
I moved from project/mechanical engineer for industrial/power station boilers to an effectively similar position with an oil service company in 77 and have worked in this sector ever since. The move was not difficult and in my view the jargon is simple enough to understand most of the time, so why have a problem with hiring people with the right skills (specialist knowledge is bolt on and has to be kept up to date anyway). I did spend some time reading relevant industry mags/papers/etc and that helped.

Lenny | Mar. 7, 2012
I think there is opportunity in the oil & gas sector for anybody in the field of labor, trades, engineering or IT with the proper training. The fastest route to getting there would be to invest in yourself by acquiring some training in the field where a person learns about operations and the jargon associated with the field. There are schools out there that provide this type of training, which will allow you to spring board into this field at a shallow cost in comparison to spending alot of time and money to accomplish nothing. Unfortunately companies dont provide such entry level training and all require you to have experience which to me is ridiculous during a time of labor shortages. How does a person get experience if the employer wont hire you to learn what you need to get hired? Although we have as it seems a worldwide shortage but nobody getting hired because they have no experience. How does this make sense? How do we overcome the wall worker shortage / worker ready? The only advice I can give is do what I had done by taking a course adding my previous mechanical trade experience as being another asset and apply for a job with drilling contractors or service contractors. I took a course in Canada at the Maritime Drilling Schools Limited located in Nova Scotia and got 12 certificates all related to the industry. The training I received gave me the knowledge and skill with my trade to understand the operation and jargon required to get a job a week after I had finished. When I went for my interview I was ready and prepared for the companies interview and orientation which fast tracked me to a leasehand position. After my first hitch in the field paid for the program and saved me the time and expense of searching for a job with not a whole lot to offer directly related to that industry. The way I look at the situation out there now is that if the company is not going to provide that service than you need to look at how you can accomplish this on your own. This is a great opportunity to get into the industry as the baby boomers are retiring allows also for opportunities in advancement as fast as they retire they are opening those positions to those already in the field. With the price of oil now and into the future once our economies start going full bust will benefit anybody looking to get in this industry as a career. The jobs in this industry are there but you got to invest in yourself and apply yourself to getting a job with these companies. Just because one company is not hiring doesnt mean the company next is not hiring. Keep applying as I know there are companies all over in a shortage for workers. So all in all, get some training and be prepared for your next steps. Some things to consider when looking for this type of work: 1.) Be prepared for the job by showing your previous work as being an asset to the industry. 2.) Have some training so that you understand whatís happening out there and you can understand the jargon. 3.) Having a driverís license and a driverís abstract along with vehicle to get you to the site. 4.) Go to where the drilling activity is to find work as most companies have hiring offices in those locations. 5.) Have work gear that suits the environment you will be working in. 6.) Have a cell phone where they can contact you when a job pops up as this can happen anytime especially if someone quits or is fired and the crew is shorthanded. 7.) Have enough money to support yourself while you are looking for a job and to last you until you get your first pay cheque. Having a credit card with for hotels or rooming places until you get a job helps. 8.) If you have friends, co-workers or classmates heading out to do the same thing for sharing the cost or are already in the field with accommodations. This may help if you can stay there until you find employment. This will also save on eating out in restaurants. 9.) If a group of friends are looking to get trained at a school maybe you can get a discount. 10.) Make sure the school is a registered school or university and is recognized by the industry. 11.) Make sure the company you start working with has a good track record in safety as we all want to return home to our families. 12.) Prepare your immediate family for your journey as they are a big part of your transition. Hope all these tips help in your endeavor and be willing!!! Now go conquer!!!

Glenroy London | Mar. 6, 2012
It is amazing how very subjective reference is being made to barrier entries to the so called specialized skills and expertise in the industry. It is all about guarding turf. Therefore, an illusion is created by jargon, long tenure, icons, having a voice cretaed by the chambers and various orders. When one examines the scenario carefully, every knowledge, work process, procedure, guideline, standard, regulation, work package can be broken down into simple explainable steps that the average individual can in fact comprehend and execute appropriately. All the hype about doing it safe can be dealt with through the appropriate risk management and assesment of the work break down components thereby rendering the activitie safe and at an acceptable level of risk that is manageable. Most folks graduating from school today are able to disect all these complicated issues into simple workable steps. When one considers who are the folks that made the decisions that resulted in fatalities and excursions into the environment and the appropriate root cause invetigation analysis is done the responsibility for the most parts lay squarlely on the shoulders of the so called experienced gurus. In fact some of these so called gurus are just over exposed in that they have not learned new concepts from their respective exposures. Only when learns from their exposure that they become experienced other than that they are just over-exposed. My advise to these gurus is to ride of into the sun set and give the young folks a chance to start a family and a future with allowing them their turn at the oil and gas wheel. They will learn just as you did when you were allowed the opportunity. There are no mysteries that time and effort and a little elbow grease would not remove. After all we are but cells of the infinite consciousness,that is we are of the universe and the universe is of us. In other words there is nothing on the face of the earth that cannot be conquered.

Randy Pochel | Mar. 6, 2012
Good article ! I have experience and a degree in geology, I was hesitant to enter the field again, having lost work in two bust cycles and finding work in another field. This is a problem. As the industry ages and people retire, we are going to find ourselves with a shortage of workers who have the experience.

pablo jr. | Mar. 6, 2012
Buddy buddy system. One is expert in O&G while the new worker observing and learning the technique of the master. Ill assure you 3 months provisionary period is enough for him to learn O&G.

Senior Process Engineer | Mar. 5, 2012
This article is fine in theory, but the reality is much different. In Oil & Gas, we are under a lot of pressure to do things safely and quicky. The client wants only the best for his dollar. He is not going to pay a contractor to pay someone to learn and potentially build something that is unsafe or not functional. You work in this industry, you have to hit the ground running. There are too many cases of where inexperience has gotten people killed and wasted a lot of money. In Oil & Gas, there is no place for hand holding. If your new to Oil & Gas, be prepared to start at the bottom, because that is where you belong. You need to pay your dues. Your not going to make the big bucks right off the bat. There is way too much too learn and it must be done right the first time. You very rarely have the oppurtunity to correct your mistakes. A lot of lives and big money are on the line.

phillip | Mar. 5, 2012
This is so very true no one had any experience in the oil and gas industry at some point in their career. Something else is often there are floorhands or roustabouts with experience in mechanics that are not even considered for these jobs.

Eddy Handita | Mar. 5, 2012
Yes that can be done to train skilled hands (mechanics, electricians, electronics techs, small business owners/employees who make things, others alike) to work in oil & gas business world. Those folks tend to know math. What about me? I'm hearing impaired but possessing skills in volume measurements (desktop) and some hand-on experiences in electronics and car repairs, for example. Just refresh me a bit to start working immediately -- I still keep up w updates in oil & gas world, mental skills not eroding yet after nearly 2 years retired. Thank you yfolks!

Ronald Kim Rareza | Mar. 5, 2012
Ive been trying to enter O&G Industries for several years already. I know that its really hard to enter and start a career in this industry. Its lucky, if you know somebody from the inside that can start you off as a young man. Sometimes, not so lucky if you have to start off at the bottom, probably its OK if your still very young and be satisfied as to start at the bottom of the ladder, well its a different matter of course. Its an issue of what comes first "The hen or the egg." Arguments, debates on whether which one comes first. Instead of trying to pursuade somebody, why not discuss... try to probe on the two. Which one will matter now, which one you need now, which one you need in the future. Its not the age, race, or belief that will matter. What will matter at the end will always be the help that the two has given in order to attain a certain goal. Try to read beyond the resume... look for passion, look for the adventurous, look for somebody who is willing to leave his past in order to make a dream into a realization (very willing to learn). Well Im still here and willing to wait for the right time.

Andre Patterson | Mar. 5, 2012
I'm one of the people trying to break in the O&G industry, but I come from automotive. I've worked 12+ years in that industry and currently working at the steel mill here in Texas. Some of the jobs I've looked at on Rigzone say a "willingness to learn or train" but when you call it's a different story. I have some college under my belt, but no degree. With the industry ramping up, it would seem that some would gravitate towards a person who is willing to learn. My resume is on Rigzone, but not activated because of of the lack of experience. But I can never get it if not given an opportunity.

Mark | Mar. 5, 2012
I agree totally with your comments. In the education sector, we have had to be creative with alternative licensure paths for potential teachers especially in the math and science areas. I have been a school administrator for 14 years and have a K -12 specialization in mathematics plus I have 11 years experience in the electrical power industry, where I began working after graduating from high school. I have proven my abilities in both fields, but have not had anyone contact me about a position in the oil and gas industry. I understand that I do not know the terminology, but know that I would make a great employee and would be a great asset to a company willing to take a chance. Thanks for the article!

Marc S. Young, PE | Mar. 5, 2012
The problem with the theory that one process engineer proven in one area can be used in another area is the unproven nature of the individual when applied to a new environment. I would point to DNVs "Qualification of New Technology" RP-A203 and remind all that people are systems just like other technology. For offshore oil & gas, it is critical to safety and to "the physical environment" that the engineers we select are aware of the differences between the onshore operating environment and the offshore operating environment. We can train an onshore engineer to be an offshore engineer, but it takes them being willing to take a few steps back and learn the differences. With this comes a reduction in the equivalent pay we can offer while they are retrained. They also have to be receptive to understanding that it is not the same as where they came from. This is not acceptable to most experienced engineers. I, for one, had to do the few steps back to go forward and retrain in the offshore. But having done so, I now recognize that there is a difference. I now work in a consulting engineering role and my clients expect a competent offshore engineer for offshore work. Not sure we can retrain in this line of work where immediate performance is demanded.

lesli | Mar. 5, 2012
I am not sure why Jeremy Lin is used to set up this discussion. jeremy lin was overlooked because recruiters had a mind-set that a high quality player should have certain characteristics. Not because he was a baseball player trying to make it as a basketball player. You are talking about people from outside of the energy industry trying to hire IN to the energy industry. They have the basic skill set, but lack the specifics. You are arguing that they can be taught to dribble rather than swing a bat, but the concept of winning is still embedded. I would argue that such a new employees, the linn-type, would never be a kobe bryant, but might bring a new perspective that could change the way things are done.

timbeezy | Mar. 5, 2012
who thought basketball could be related to O&G?


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