Oilfield Hiring Slowdown Strategies
The news is awash with reports about the falling price of oil. As a result, there are also growing numbers of reports that touch on the subject of possible slowdowns in the oilfields. Will these slowdowns mean that layoffs by oilfield companies won’t be far behind? Will your company start laying off employees? Only time will tell. Fracking Jobs has put together some oilfield hiring slowdown strategies that you can use:
- There is plenty of oilfield hiring going on – right now. The news media makes money when ratings are high or papers sell (that latter outlet has plenty of problems, however). Remember this when you see the types of alarmist headlines that trumpet crashing oil prices the way headlines tend to exaggerate, well, just about anything. You might think that every oil patch in the U.S. is about to close up operations and shut down every rig. Nothing could be further from the truth. Will oil production slow down? Yes, most likely. Will some rigs cease operations? Sure. But let’s face it: the need for fossil fuels isn’t going away anytime soon. While lower oil prices are negatively affecting some companies with serious debt loads and putting a crimp on profits for healthy firms, that doesn’t mean that everyone in the shale business is going broke. Take a look at the many fracking jobs listed on this site today. The newspapers won’t tell you that there is hiring going on in the oil and gas business – but we will.
- Keep things in perspective: we’ve been here before. Energy businesses, like many businesses, are cyclical. Veterans of the business have been through booms and busts before. They’ve seen the price of oil fall drastically in the past like it did in 1986, 2008, and other years. We all know that what goes up, must come down. But more importantly: the opposite happens as well. Today’s oil price crash will ultimately lead, paradoxically, to at least some recovery in oil prices as supplies drop due to reduced production. At the same time, the continued development of certain economies like those in Brazil and India will keep demand for oil from completely crashing. And don’t count China out as a major petroleum consumer, even if its economy is slowing compared to recent years.
- Start a business. This seems like a very trite, almost meaningless suggestion. After all, the web is saturated with lame articles about “How to Start an eBay Business!” or “Make Money Fast With Craigslist!”, etc. etc. However, it is possible to start any number of tiny businesses like house painting, landscaping, junk hauling, pool service, etc. with little money upfront. Especially if you already own a pickup truck. At the same time that oil prices are falling, the overall economy is picking up outside of the oil and gas business. This paradox means that residential services like those mentioned will be more in demand as people work longer hours and have less time for general household tasks. You may be able to get yourself work more quickly by working for yourself as opposed to working for someone else. And don’t forget: if oilfield companies start laying off a lot of employees, your future moving services business might get pretty busy.
- Don’t wait until the bitter end. If you’re reading this article now but are still employed, then at least you’re aware that changes in the shale oil industry are underway. Keep your ears and eyes open for other job opportunities, including those with companies that have nothing to do with the energy world. It’s easier to find a job while still employed. Your oilfield network can provide more up-to-date and valuable employment information than any news media outlet will.
- Is it time you took a vacation, anyway? On the other hand, getting a layoff notice might not be the worst thing that can happen to you. Especially if you’ve been working 60 to 90 hours a week. Your family and friends might be glad to have you back in the real world, and if you have been working crazy hours, you’ll likely have a decent bank account to tide you over during a work stoppage. Take some time off and smell the roses. Because the price of oil might head back up sooner than you would like – and it’s back to work.
- Remember that the overall economy is on the upswing. While oilfield companies might have fewer job openings, the overall economy is improving. If you can’t find work in the oilfields, that doesn’t mean plenty of other types of industries aren’t experiencing job growth. In fact, the falling price of oil is helping plenty of other businesses save money which can be used to increase payrolls. The trucking and construction industries, for example, are seeing benefits from lower diesel fuel prices. You may consider getting out of the oil business for a period of time until oil prices recover. Keep in mind, however, that you may not want to switch industries until you’ve exhausted all options in the shale world. Keeping your oil rig experience current makes you the first person to be considered when oil prices go back up and the oilfields start sprouting “help wanted” signs once again. Either way, you have options. By the way, some residents of the boom towns of North Dakota and Texas welcome a bit of slowing. These communities need to build out their infrastructures, add housing, and take a breather from overwhelming growth spurts during the last few years.
- Move quickly. If you hear about a new opportunity, grab it quickly. The days of walking down the street and seeing ten “now hiring” signs in a single city block may be gone, so the competition for jobs will pick up. But this doesn’t mean there are no new jobs – just not as many as during the height of the boom. As we mentioned, oilfield hiring may be slowing, but it hasn’t stopped.
- Use temp firms. Temporary employment firms have their negative points, but they are good to have around when you’re facing a long stretch of unemployment. Temp firms aren’t the best sources for high paying gigs or friendly employers, but they can make the difference between having a paycheck vs. no work at all. If you’ve tried to find work after being laid off and had little success, visiting a couple of temp firms might be a last resort. There are temp firms that cater exclusively to commercial driver license holders and construction firms. Consider these types of niche temping agencies as the pay rates tend to be higher.
- Renegotiate your rent. Did you already move to a shale boom town? Are you now paying a ridiculous amount of money for your monthly rent? Tell your landlord that you’re going to move, and then follow through. Let him know that your employer is cutting your hours and may end up laying you off. He’ll be forced to at least consider reducing your rental rate. Your landlord will be sweating any slowdown in oilfield employment just as much – or more – than you will.
- Get a CDL if you don’t already have one. We’ve written this all over the Fracking Jobs site. The fastest way to get a gig in the oilfields is to get your commercial driver’s license. Guess what? It’s also just about the fastest way to find any kind of job, including those outside of the oilfields. CDL holders are in demand in just about any economy. At the very least, a newly-minted CDL driver can expect to find work with over-the-road (OTR) companies who are always looking for drivers. While an OTR gig isn’t a great option for those with wives and/or families, it works just fine for younger, single folks who lack professional driving experience and alternative job opportunities. As the overall economy continues to grow – despite what is happening in the oilfields – more OTR companies will be offering CDL training opportunities to those who want a commercial license but can’t afford to pay for private training. Find out more in our “Five Ways to Get a CDL” article.
- Stay informed. Gossip and hearsay runs rampant during times of economic strife, but it usually isn’t helpful and much of it is probably false. Sure, listen in on the rumor mill once in a while, but don’t let it run your life. News reports from credible sources should carry more weight than what you hear from the “aunt of your co-worker’s friend who works at the auto dealership two states over” regarding your company’s hiring plans. Assume that your job isn’t stable. Nobody’s job is. But also don’t assume that you’ll stop working next week, either. Sure, many oilfield companies aren’t making huge profits like they were when oil was selling for over $100 per barrel, but many of them are still making a little bit of profit even with oil selling for half of that, or are at least breaking even.
- Will oil prices rise again? Plenty of pretty smart folks were caught off guard by the recent drop in oil prices, which happened quickly and without a lot of warning. Don’t be surprised if oil prices go back up as quickly as they came down. Unlike some commodities like gold or silver, oil offers the world the benefits of transportation, comfort, ingredients for a vast range of manufactured goods, and modern conveniences we would be hard pressed to do without. Now, nobody – at least none of the so-called “experts” in the energy business – is running around saying that oil prices will shoot up later this year or next as quickly as they fell. But noone can predict the future, either. Stay tuned.