Finding a Job in the Oil Industry

For anyone pursuing oil careers, preparation is essential for a successful oil career job search. Below are some tips for these job candidates.

Most oil industry hiring professionals would prefer to receive a reverse-chronological resume that lists applicants’ most recent job first, followed by the prior job, and so on. Oil career job applicants should remember that the purpose of their resume is to sell themselves, which means viewing their resume from the perspective of the company. Generally, companies do not recommend listing objectives at the top because this emphasizes what the oil career job seeker wants rather than how he or she will meet the prospective employer’s needs. Instead, job applicants should provide a two- to three-line summary tailored to the job they are seeking; for example, if a company needs to hire an engineer, then the applicant could highlight the following: “Engineering professional with two years of offshore drilling. Strong interpersonal and communication skills.”

Next, applicants should list every job they have held that is pertinent to the available position. In job descriptions, they should use action verbs to detail their duties rather than just listing overall tasks. After their employment history, applicants should their list educational achievements, including the last school where a diploma or degree was earned. For college degrees, they need to provide the date conferred, any honors, and their grade point average as well as the name of the institution.

Another recommendation is for applicants to tailor their resume to each specific job listing and emphasize in their resume the specific skills and accomplishments the company is seeking. Again, they are advised to use strong action verbs and describe relevant accomplishments.

The final recommendation relates to the overall readability and brevity of the resume, which should be two pages, since most people skim resumes and read only the first few paragraphs before making a decision. Applicants should leave some “white space” on their resumes and avoid crowding text and using unusual fonts or colors, which could make the information less accessible.

During interviews, hiring managers and/or human resources staff members need to determine if the job candidate has the qualities necessary for the specific oil industry position. This means they prefer to interview candidates with the right qualifications and right demeanor. Job applicants can follow the simple steps below to ensure their interview is a success.

  1. Prepare for the interview by researching the company, including annual financial statements and any recent press releases or news articles. Learn about the company’s mission, vision, and values as well as its track record. Think about any challenges the company may need assistance with and how you can be part of the solution.
  2. Dress appropriately for the interview. For men, this means wearing a button-down shirt, tie, and suit with dress shoes. For women, this means wearing a neutral-colored business dress suit with nylons and low heels. Attire may be more casual for interviews at field locations.
  3. Arrive at the interview at least 10 minutes early so as not to appear rushed, and always display professionalism. Offer a firm handshake and make eye contact with the interviewer. Smile but do not use inappropriate humor, use business English when speaking, and be aware of your body language. First impressions count—in fact, surveys show that interviewers can make their hiring decision in just a few minutes.
  4. Thank the interviewer(s) for their time and consideration at the conclusion of the interview. In a day or two, send a thank-you note to each person in the interview, and if do not hear anything in a week or two, contact the human resources staff member to check your status.

For oil industry jobs, applicants may not need to submit references, depending on the hiring company. References are people, such as former colleagues, who can verify the applicants’ qualifications and abilities if contacted by the company that is hiring. Some companies will contact references, but others may not since hiring professionals know that job candidates usually give only positive references.

If job applicants are unsure what current or former employers might say in response to questions about their performance or skills, they should not use them for references but, instead, should find other positive references. It is best to avoid listing references on a resume because, if they are needed, the hiring company will request them. However, applicants may add the following line to their resume or cover letter: “References furnished upon request.”

Internships are a great option for college students who hope to work in the oil industry. Many large oil companies offer internships to candidates in specific fields, including paid internships that usually last for one semester or the summer. These internships provide students with hands-on experience in the field, an opportunity to decide if they are a good fit with the company, and potentially a full-time job after graduation. College placement services, department heads, and on-campus recruiters all provide leads for student internships.

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