Recruiting in the Energy Sector

Aug 21, 2008

When an executive search firm is retained by a company, the process of finding the right candidate to fill a vacancy may take a few months. Not so in the energy sectors these days. Recruiters are literally burning the midnight oil when it comes to finding highly qualified mid-level executives in this industry.

Some search engagements now last six months or longer. There is a real talent crisis.

The problem is a lack of qualified, 15- to 20-year experienced employees currently working in the energy industry. Going back to the late 80s and early 90s, graduates in key fields related to the oil and gas sector were few and far between. Geology, Earth Science, and Engineering majors were significantly less during that time period.

That brings us to today and explains the lack of qualified mid-level executives. What’s a recruiter to do when an oil company comes knocking on the door for talent?

Executive search firms should have proven experts in the field. Not only from having conducted multiple assignments in the industry, but also from prior hands-on business operational experience. Does he or she understand the different sectors such as upstream, midstream, downstream, services, mining, exploration, and utilities? Is he or she familiar with the sub-sectors as well? The energy fields are global; are you recruiting on a global level?

Most of the top-25 global executive search firms will have an expert in the energy sector. At Stanton Chase, for example, we have multiple team members located in each of our four regions: Asia/Pacific; Europe, Middle East and Africa; Latin America; and North America.

Matching an executive’s talent in one part of the world with a position in another part of the world is one of our strengths in serving this industry. Plus, having forces spread out across the world not only helps us serve our global clientele, it helps us expand on our knowledge of the ever-changing energy sector.

Enticing Salaries and More

With the lack of talent that exists in this industry right now, big benefits are easily available to those few qualified candidates. It’s not uncommon to see mid-level executives making well into six figures.  Due to the competition for talent, large signing bonuses are also typical. Companies know there just aren’t enough well-qualified individuals in the market, and the benefits keep getting better. So much so that it’s not uncommon to see one company buy out/acquire another company just for the talent within the organization.

Negotiation Advantages

With oil and gas companies so desperate for good talent, the prospective candidate knows he has more negotiating power. In turn, this also can be a plus for the recruiter. When purchasing a car, the dealer isn’t always going to lay the best offer on the table immediately, and neither should you. Of course, make sure to work within the boundaries set by the employer and only offer the benefits they agree to. Leave room to make the offer that much more enticing. If a candidate is losing interest, being able to bring more to the table can often make them reconsider.

The bottom line is recruiting in the energy sector is a hard business to be in these days. With the lack of talent available, finding the right people to fill these positions is a difficult task for corporations, which recognize the value of a recruiter with an international network and experience.

Much attention is being focused on the latter part of the millennial generation. Oil and gas companies are urging universities and other higher learning institutions to offer more science and engineering opportunities for students so this same predicament doesn’t occur in another 15 to 20 years.

In the meantime, energy companies will start to see more senior-level executives without the background and experience that these higher-ranking positions have been accustomed to in the past. This will gradually change as domestic universities begin to graduate more students with specialties in this important industry sector.

Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!