Looking for a Job

Job Hunting in an Unfavorable Economy

Written By Jonathan Holstein and Phoebe Ho-Stone

With stagnant oil prices and industry-wide hiring freezes, the future seems very uncertain for many petroleum engineers. Interviews have become scarce, and job offers even rarer. However, there are still many opportunities available, and in this article we will show you how to leverage your resources to earn yourself a job in an unfavorable economy. We will cover many topics, including interview techniques, available Texas A&M resources, guides to researching and networking with companies, and the topic of cold-calling.

Learning About Companies

When trying to land a job, one of the most important things you can do is educate yourself over the abundance of companies in the industry. Most petroleum engineering students are familiar with the large operators that come to campus every semester, but pay less attention to the service companies. This is a bad habit. If seeking an internship, doing field work with a service company is often an option, and many big companies like to see labor-intensive field experience on a resume. Even if a service company job is not your ideal career choice, do not rule out these companies; many practicing petroleum engineers have their roots in the service industry.

Another largely overlooked source of jobs in the oil and gas industry is smaller independent operators that do not visit campus or post on the TAMU Career Center website. Although many of these companies will not be hiring, it is certainly worth the effort to contact them due to their abundance. Even a small oil patch town, such as Tyler, TX, will have ten or fifteen operators located there. Their company contact information is usually easily obtainable by a simple web search, and they are worth contacting. We will discuss cold calling such companies in depth later in the article.

Finally, if you do plan to contact a company, be sure to educate yourself about them. This is especially true if you plan to interview with them. Simply reading their website can provide ample information. If they are a small company without a website, the Texas Railroad Commission will provide information on every operator in Texas.

Texas A&M Resources and Interviewing

One of the most valuable resources you have as a student at Texas A&M is the Career Center. The Career Center’s sole mission is to help you find a job. They offer various services, such as resume reviews and mock interviews. Perhaps their most valuable asset is the HireAggies website. Essentially, this is the central portal for all employers to recruit Aggies. Here, you can post your resume, apply for positions, and schedule interviews. Learning to utilize this service, and the Career Center as a whole, can be very beneficial to your job hunt.

Also, excellent resources are available within the engineering department, such as the SEC Career Fair and the SPE Career Enhancement Event, both held at the beginning of each semester. Here you can spend valuable face time with recruiters, distribute your resume, and market yourself as a valuable job candidate. It is highly recommended to attend if you’re actively seeking employment.

Once you pass the initial interaction with a company, you may be offered an interview if they like your resume and personality. If you do manage to secure an interview, be sure to look at our Interview Success Tips article for valuable information! Performing well in the interview is perhaps the most critical part of securing a job.

Networking 101

Often the most overlooked aspect to finding a job is networking. As engineers, we are rarely known for our social skills, so it should come as no surprise that networking is often difficult for many of us. Yet networking is critical because it can open many doors for young professionals embarking on their career within the industry.

One can network in many places, and our biannual SEC and SPE career fairs are a brilliant place to begin! These events, mentioned earlier, are attended by hundreds of company representatives that have come to recruit students from Texas A&M. This environment is the perfect chance to make some great connections. It is important to acquire contact information from the company recruiters, often through business cards, and follow up with the person you met. Taking the extra time to send a thank-you email for speaking with you and including a resume will show your tenacity and increase your chances of a future career opportunity.

More recently, LinkedIn has emerged as an avenue of networking. Similar to other social networking websites, LinkedIn allows you to connect and socialize with other people. What separates LinkedIn from the other sites, however, is its more professional atmosphere. As an example, if Facebook was a bar, then LinkedIn would be a technical conference. Here, you can connect with industry professionals, and network in a way similar to real life. Many people have had excellent luck with the site, and some companies use it exclusively for their recruiting.

Cold Calling: Good or Bad?

Cold calling is an unusual form of networking where you are literally calling someone you have never met before to ask for them to see you as a potential employee. Not surprisingly, this method may not be as effective as networking in person, but if you have the confidence and an assertive determination necessary to get your point across over the phone, this method may be of use.

The act of cold calling requires a planned procedure: make sure you know what you want to say before you pick up the phone and start dialing! Understand what you want to achieve as a result of the phone call, and be ready to accept a denial. As with any networking opportunity, you must be prepared to accept a rejection, though you do not need to give up. Turn the situation around and ask yourself, “How can I get a ‘yes’?”

For cold-calling purposes, getting a ‘yes’ may involve something not unlike bargaining. For example, when inquiring about internships and the answer is ‘no’, you could ask for a two week job shadow where you can spend time around the employees and learn more about the company.

In conclusion, the success of cold calling relies on how determined the caller is to get something out of the conversation. If you know what you want and you are strong willed and persuasive enough, the listener will want to pull strings to get you something.

If you plan to start cold calling, the staff at The Well Log has located a complete list of all the E&P companies in the United States, including a breakdown the regions in which they’re located. That list can be found here.


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