BLOG: 'It's Cyclical' and Other Worn Out Industry Phrases

BLOG: 'It's Cyclical' and Other Worn Out Industry Phrases
No matter how spot on they may be, there are just some phrases people won't mind not hearing once the industry fully recovers from the downturn.

Nearly two years into one of the industry’s worse downturns, the good news is that many experts and analysts believe we’ve already reached the bottom and some are anticipating a ramp-up of production soon, and subsequently, more hiring.  

As a journalist, I’ve been privy to numerous conversations about the downturn and have addressed it from every possible angle. After so long, you begin to read between the lines when energy professionals say things like, “the industry is cyclical.” Presumably, we all know the boom-bust cycle of the industry, so stating that it’s cyclical really does nothing for us except remind us that nobody really knows when the downturn will be over. At times – not always – it seems like this innocent phrase is used as a justification for simply not knowing.

Take job loss, for example.

“Well, the industry is cyclical. In times of boom, people are hired on and in times of bust, people are let go.”

Tell me you haven’t heard this explanation lately. And while it’s true … gosh, aren’t you tired of hearing it?

Here are a few other words and phrases that won’t be missed once we’re completely out of this downturn:

Layoffs, Redundancies and Reductions

The underlying theme here? People are losing their jobs. While it may not always be communicated as clearly as a layoff, eliminating redundancies and making workforce reductions all amount to the same end result.

Right-sizing, Restructuring

Beware of these words as well because they can also be code for layoffs. When a company right-sizes during a downturn, they’re getting down to a workable size. And restructuring can be misleading because it can happen with mergers and acquisitions as well. Positions may very well be added, but there’s a good chance some will be eliminated as well.     

Lower for Longer, New Normal

These phrases are often used to describe the low oil price environment. Essentially, we’ll have a prolonged downturn and the new normal will be how the industry adjusts to it. Which brings me to …

Do More with Less

This really means a company has cut its workforce and needs the remaining employees to take on the workload with fewer people.


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Valerie is an experienced writer and editor dedicated to providing useful and relevant career news about the oil and gas industry. Email Valerie at


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