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How to Get a Job

How to Get a Job in the Oil Patch

This article relates to land based field jobs in the oil industry. Much of this also applies to offshore drilling, indoor, lab, office, and facility related jobs, but for the most part they are not addressed specifically. For most of this article, I use the word 'industry' to describe the oil industry as a whole. The word 'field' is used to describe a sector of the oil industry that involves on-site labor at varying locations, such as well drilling or seismic exploration.

Now you know a bit more about the oil patch, how do you get a job?

Before I give you any tips for getting a job, I'm going to start with a more general topic and tell you how to get everything you want in every area of your life.

I know, it's a big promise to make... but it's really not that tough. In the end, it can be summed up in one word, but I'm going to stretch it out a bit more than that.
There's an entire industry built around a single word. There's people out there that offer complete courses, books, seminars, and even camps to help you get there.

That magic word? Motivation.
To motivate you is to provide a motive, or reason for you to do something.
Websters defines 'motive' (in part) as:
"something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act"

You see people in every profession that make wads of money doing a job that they love, and many of them came from the poorest of families and started out with nothing. It obviously can be done.

What's the difference between you and the most successful people out there?
Why do some people have better jobs or make more money than others?
Why are some people phenomenally successful, while others flip burgers?
Why do some people get all the promotions while others stay at the bottom of the ladder?

It all comes down to motivation. Plain and simple. These people saw something that they wanted, and they went out and got it... and when they failed, they got up and tried again.
Why did they keep trying after they failed a couple of times, instead of giving up or putting it off 'till tomorrow'? Because they had a motive to succeed.

For every goal, you need something that gets you excited about accomplishing that goal--something that drives you to succeed every moment of every day.

A few examples of goals:
  • Start your own business
  • Work on an oil rig
  • Become an engineer
  • Save enough money to retire at 50
  • Learn a new language

A few examples of motives for success:
  • The desire to provide a better life for your family
  • The desire to spend more time with family
  • The desire to provide the best education for your children
  • The desire to get out of debt
  • The desire to be popular with people
  • The desire for steady, secure employment
  • The desire for respect or admiration
  • The desire to do a job that you consider important
  • The desire for more free time

It doesn't really matter what motivates you to accomplish something, as long as it works. You don't need to tell anyone what it is that really drives you... maybe your sole motivation for becoming the CEO of a fortune 500 company is to make your mom proud, or to prove that your 5th grade teacher was wrong, or to spite your ex-girlfriend. As long as it's enough to motivate you to keep putting 100% of your effort into accomplishing your goal.. every day.
Write down all of the things that motivate you to succeed in the things that you do, and every time you notice yourself getting distracted from your goals, sit down and go over your motives.

For those that are motivationally challenged, there are hundreds of 'motivational speakers' out there, as well as goalsetting workshops, seminars, and books everywhere you look. The rest of this article will focus on the goal of getting a job in the oil patch.

Getting a job in the oil industry is like getting a job anywhere else... If you want a good job, you can't sit around waiting for it to fall into your lap.
It's like losing weight or quitting smoking or learning another language or becoming a brain surgeon. If you want it bad enough, and you're willing to do whatever it takes to get it, then it's as good as yours already.
While you're looking for work, make a full time job out of it... spend a few hours every day faxing resumes, making phone calls, and responding to job postings online and in local newspapers. Persistence will get you a job.

Before you start, you need to decide which industry field(s) you are interested in working in. Will it be a trade that you already know? A seismic driller's helper position? Maybe seismic or legal surveying? There is a wealth of information on all of these fields on the internet. A bit of research in the beginning could save you years of moving between jobs that you don't like.

Next, make a list of reasons that an employer should hire you.
List your strengths, skills and talents, qualifications, interests, and other traits that make you the best candidate.
Now take that list and rephrase all of the features to show a benefit to your employer. For example, 'Emergency First Aid Certificate' is a feature that should appear in your resume. 'Certified to provide emergency first aid assistance' is a benefit to your employer that should appear in your cover letter.

If you haven't already, your next step should be to register with the Oilfield Workers Registry and submit your resume. You can easily edit your resum´┐Ż at any time to add experience or training. The Oilfield Workers Registry allows you to keep your current resume available to all employers, everywhere, all the time... for free! You won't find a better deal than that. Our directory is full of listings for oilfield companies in various fields, many of which contain phone and fax numbers, email addresses, and links to employment information pages.

Log in daily to keep your resume at the top of employer's resume search results. Resumes are presented to employers with the most recently active account first. If you enter a cover letter into the database with your resume, it will be shown to all employers who view your resume, so it should apply to all of the industry fields that you chose in the 'Target Employment' section of your resume. You may also want to add your resume to monster.com and other general and oil industry specific job sites on the internet.

Choose one of the printable resumes from the 'View/Print Resume' page (from the members area), or create a resume using one of the many resume builders online or in various software packages (eg. MS Publisher). Keep it short (1-2 pages) unless you're applying for a position that's much higher than entry level.

Cover letter and resume format and design are beyond the scope of this article --There are hundreds of pages online that deal specifically with resumes and cover letters, and have many tips and tutorials available. Prepare a semi-generic cover letter for each of the industry fields that you have chosen, leaving the recipient's name blank. The idea is to re-focus the letter to show the benefits of your skills in another industry field. You may also choose to use the same cover letter for every employer.

For any company that is high on your list of favorite prospective employers, you may want to create a separate cover letter and follow up letter that emphasizes your desire to work for that specific company, and shows that you are educated about the company and their operations.

Aside from this site, your best tools for finding a job will be a phone, fax machine, computer, and the yellow pages.
Make sure you have access to a telephone and a fax machine or a computer with a fax modem and fax software.

Fax machines may seem really old fashioned, but most companies still find a use for them. They're a lot more likely to look at a paper resume than an email resume.

If you don't have the yellow pages from an oil active city, you can find them at your local library or online.
Another excellent resource for Canadian companies is the Canadian Oilfield Service and Supply Directory. It's a yellow pages style book that can be found in most motel rooms in Alberta. It's also available at www.cossd.com.

If you have experience in the position that you're applying for, and depending on current oilfield activity, you may find several companies that want to hire you on the first day of your job search. If this is the case, you can afford to be a bit more picky about the position and wage that you accept.
Don't stall too long though, or the position will be filled by someone else.

**be sure that every cover letter sent is properly addressed to the company it is being sent to. If you know the person's name, use it... otherwise, "Dear Sir/Madam," is the standard acceptable opening.

**Spell check EVERYTHING that you sent to any potential employers.

Things that will help you get a job:
  • A couple of previous employers as references
  • Any recent safety training from a recognized instructor-- such as WHMIS, H2S, or First Aid
  • Any oilfield experience
  • Experience outside of the oil industry in a similar position to the one you're applying for
  • Do you know anyone that is in a position to help you find a job? (Like the field personnel manager of a major oil drilling company?) Maybe you know someone else that does. One of the best ways to get a good job is by knowing someone... If you know someone who can help, ask them
  • Be drug-free. Many companies conduct pre-employment drug screenings and random testing of employees
Things that will hinder your job search:
  • An incomplete resume
  • Spelling and grammatical errors on your resume or cover letter
  • Many short periods of employment on your resume. They aren't going to spend money to train you if you're going to quit in a week.
  • Long periods of unemployment
  • Unfavorable references from previous employers
  • No driver's license
  • Living too far away from an active oil area
  • Applying for jobs during the slow season while companies are struggling to provide work for their current employees
  • No experience or safety training
  • For the most part, your personality trumps any of these points. An interviewer will most often hire the confident, amiable person... regardless of other factors.

Next Article:
Job Search and Interview Tips

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