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Oil and gas recruitment demands long view

The oil and gas industry has always been boom or bust, and its recruitment processes are no different. However, without taking the long view employers are facing a significant skills shortage, says Russell Deane, Director of specialist Oil & Gas engineering recruiter, SRD Technical.

 “Oil and gas recruitment is a steep learning curve at the best of times but to make things harder we managed to set up our company just before the recession hit,” explains Russell Deane, SRD Technical director.

The Watford, UK-based business has specialised in working with long-term, project-based professionals over the last nine years during a tumultuous period for the sector.

“After a few years of success, global markets crashed, and it’s been a real challenge for us to regain our position and momentum. In fact it’s only been during the last six months that we’ve really seen the Oil & Gas recruitment tide fully turn.”

However, despite these prospects for positive growth, Russell notes that the jobs market has never been more under strain, owing to an overly-traditional staffing strategy adopted by too many organisations.

“As the sector recovers there’s a significant shortage of the right candidate,” he adds. “While there are plenty of really bright people out there, the majority are being scooped up by rival oil and gas companies as demand for technological expertise skyrockets.

“Similarly, some of the best candidates are falling into a catch-22 situation. While many are nervous about leaving secure jobs for new projects, these same schemes can’t get off the ground without being able to convince prospective employees of the opportunities and benefits available.

“Those individuals seeking senior oil and gas roles often need often to be coaxed out of a risk-averse approach to job-seeking. This can only be achieved with the support of recruiters who understand the industry and can identify and address any concerns. Otherwise organisations are finding themselves flooded with applications that simply aren’t fit-for-purpose.

“For example, as demand increases a major energy provider might say to a supplier ‘build a North Sea rig, commission it to us, and we’ll extract the oil,’ which then puts the supplier involved in a really nervous position. They know the market is coming back, but they’re also at a loss as to where to get the right people in time, particularly as the candidates won’t step up until they’re certain a project is a sure thing.”

In support of these observations the latest Global Energy Talent Index survey confirms a substantive number of oil and gas industry professionals around the world view a skills shortage as their biggest concern.

Nearly half of the 17,000 energy professional respondents surveyed said they were “either quite worried or very worried about an impending talent crisis.”

The solution, believes Russell, is to utilise the expertise of recruiters who’ve worked in oil and gas for a significant part of their own careers to effectively bridge the gap between employers and prospective employees. This further requires a highly selective approach to sourcing the right candidate to meet an organisation’s needs.

“It’s important to find recruitment consultants who have worked extensively in the industry and are able to quickly assess, understand and explain the roles and benefits that are on offer,” he continues. “This enables them to better identify and attract the best candidates who, once in post, are then supported with a series of critical performance reviews for up to six months.

“This long view commitment is the only way to ensure a successful skills-match, and evidence to the candidate that an employer is serious about their career aspirations.

“I’m still surprised by how many businesses wait until they are desperate before starting the recruitment process. This leaves them vulnerable and creates a short-notice requirement for an intensively detailed and long-term solution.

“Looking to the future we’re seeing a significant upsurge in demand amongst engineering, procurement and construction companies looking for senior project managers with up to and beyond 5-10 years’ experience.

“Our concept is to help our corporate clients pause, look at their structures and market demands, and then begin making decisions on a sustainable recruitment basis to meet their objectives.”

SRD Technical supports the delivery of some of the most challenging energy, construction and rail projects in the UK, and is currently supporting respected names across the industry including: KBR, Bechtel, McDermott, Tullow Oil, Worley Parsons, Penspen and Wood to name just a few.