Energy Companies Should Recruit Where Google Does

Energy Companies Should Recruit Where Google Does
Energy execs believe the industry has to be more proactive in going after the talent it wants.

It’s no secret that in this day and age, competition for tech talent is fierce. And often times, oil and gas companies are losing out to tech companies like Google.

Perhaps oil and gas should take a page out of tech’s playbook.

“When you try to attract today’s workforce with the choices they have, they can look at energy very easily and say, ‘oh, that’s a dirty, nasty business that hurts the environment,’” Aaron Sobel, vice president of human resources and administration and CHRO for Diamond Offshore said during the WorkforceNEXT Energy Summit in Houston recently. “The first thing energy companies should consider when sourcing talent is going to where companies are at 4.0 and closer to recruit talent.”

Sobel said energy companies should go to the sources that already exist who think like the workers they’re seeking.

It would also help to think of the industry in other ways besides a commoditized business, noting that the industry could better be marketed as having exciting challenges that the next generation of workers can solve.

Promoting a better work-life balance could also help, Sobel said.

“The reality is the workforce that we have coming in now and tomorrow won’t accept those long hours. We need to meet employees better where they are in their work-life balance,” he said. “That means flexible work hours, maternal/paternal leave … those are the kinds of things that are going to attract and help retain talent in the industry.”

“And guess who does that well today? The tech industry.”

Energy Needs a Better Story

Energy is competing with the rest of the world for talent, so that requires energy companies to put themselves on the same stage as non-energy companies, said Bob Newhouse, vice president, talent development for KBR, Inc.

And part of that is through telling stories and sharing experiences.

“We’re working on our employee stories. It’s not enough for us as a company to tell you what it’s like to work here … we went and asked our employees,” said Newhouse. “We began to collect them and let the employees tell their stories. They are compelling and genuine.”

Pink Petro CEO Katie Mehnert added that the way people connect to the meaningful work the energy industry does is through its stories.

“The trend I see is that people want to share their stories and be authentic doing so,” Mehnert said.

“We don’t do a good job of telling our story sometimes,” added Newhouse. “We have to highlight the complexities, challenges and the opportunities that exist in energy.”


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Jay  |  May 08, 2019
I agree with Steve, there is no way Oil & Gas will get top talent anymore. Having to start work at 6am, turnarounds that require a 6/10's schedule, no remote working allowed, only 2 weeks paid vacation to start, highly variable employment (constant layoffs and hiring sprees, lots of short-term contract work), etc. will never compare to the better work environment Tech companies, or most companies for that matter, have. The younger generation cares less about money and more about work-life balance, so you can't buy them as easily as you could with older workers. On top of poor working conditions, Oil & Gas its a shrinking industry in 1st world countries with renewables becoming cheaper everyday and sometimes even required by law in Europe and USA. Only 3rd world countries will use oil 50 years from now in significant amounts. Its a poor industry future that has nowhere to go but down.
Steve  |  May 01, 2019
Why as a kid looking at getting a decent education would you work in oil and gas when you can make a lot more wedge in tech? The oilfield simply can't and doesn't pay the talent they need the same wages as Silicon Valley does. What tech talent can earn in a few years' time out of college rivals or beats what even those working senior positions in O&G can earn after years of hard work--even though O&G affords people very comfortable livings. While a great way to earn a living is to get on with a drilling contractor or operator, unfortunately these companies are not always run well or efficiently. They're not. Drilling contractors and even super-majors are years behind the times technologically. Yes, they're investing more money in techy stuff, but what they are doing with the tech is simply not that interesting to today's tech talent. Real-time monitoring? Blah, paper mills have been doing that for 20 years. VR cranes? LOL. About the coolest thing going on--and Exxon is killing it with this down in Guyana--is algorithmic processing of geo data. What would take a year to process now takes two weeks, and you now know if there's oil there before you even drill the well. So if you're a well-educated, technically inclined individual who wants to put their skills to work, why would you take a step backward and work on comparatively old tech? That's the question O&G now grapples with and still hasn't answered. Simply relaying O&G workers' "stories" about their time in the industry doesn't cut it, much as folks like Bob Newhouse, Aaron Sobel, and Katie Mehnert quoted in this article may not want to hear it. Young folks get into tech to help engineer the future, and likely view O&G as merely maintaining the present.
Chet  |  April 26, 2019
I came up in the oilfield early in my life. My dad was one of the first Petroleum engineers in South Texas in the 40's after the war. But as I grew up and was around mostly oilfield people, I noticed that almost everyone started their oilfield careers working in the field. When I finished with my Vietnam experience, I was on the West Coast and freshly married so I got a job offshore. One of the first things I learned about my bosses, they all started in the field, "digging ditches" was the term that was commonly used. In 1980 I started my own contracting company working all the platforms off of So Cal. And in that time I began to see a switch. the major oil companies were slowly being taken over by the bean-counters and HR geeks. Hell, most engineers even thought it was punishment to have to go into the field.Guys like me with tons of experience but no Bachelor degree couldn't get a job as a roustabout. Those days were the end of the great major oil companies. Today they are no more different than the company who makes wire clothes hangers or toilet paper. There are still lots of young people who would love to have a good career in the oilfield working for a major. But they don't have a college degree, so they are destined to work for contractors and hang along the edges. Yeah, the oil companies need to hire where google hires. I was lucky. I was anything I wanted to be in the oilfield, just because I was willing to work and learn. And that I did. I was trained by the old hands and that's what I became. The oil companies screwed the pooch back in the 70's and there's no turning back. Too bad.
Nan  |  April 24, 2019
These were my thoughts too. The tech companies have figured out a winning formula to get the best minds working for them as they truly understand the nature of their business. Energy companies are still yet to realise that the school system short changes them with the way students are accessed in schools. Engineering as it where was not born in the classroom and so will not be defined by it.