With the oil & gas industry going through a cyclical decline, hiring and recruiting has followed suit. Over the past two years virtually every company — be it an operator, a service company or a midstream company — has undergone rounds of layoffs while many have even gone out of business. But that is doesn’t mean you should halt your recruiting efforts. In fact, we think this may be the right time to consider upgrading or possibly adding a bench hire from the available talent in the market.

The goals and objectives for how your company operates probably are not the same as they were just 2 ½ years ago when oil was over $100/bbl. With that, it stands to reason that you may have leaders or employees that don’t have the ability or desire to achieve your company goals with oil at $48/bbl.

As you look at your future business plan, an important question to ask is — does your organization have the people necessary to operate in this new environment? If not, perhaps it’s time to take a hard look and evaluate your current talent to determine opportunities to bring on a new set of skills.

Oil & Gas Downturn Creates A Need for Recruiting

We recently worked with a client that recognized that changing market conditions, long-term trends and a shift in geographies required a different set of skills in key positions. We worked with them to find an individual that was better aligned with their long-term objectives and brought to organization the skills to help them win.

While we ultimately pulled an individual from a competitor to find what our client was seeking, we did discover that there are a lot of great individuals looking or willing to consider a new opportunity. Here is a glimpse of the profiles we saw.

The I-don’t-want-to-be-a-manager employee
In any profession, often great individual contributors get promoted to being managers because they so strong technically. But being a great individual contributor doesn’t necessarily equate to being a good manager. And their inability to perform in a management role often turns out to be the reason they were let go from the job.

You may find great geologists or engineers with exceptional technical skills and a strong knowledge of the areas your company works. Their experience and expertise could be a great addition to your organization, especially if they don’t want to go back into a management role.

The employee who took a retirement package

Many companies have offered retirement packages and some great, seasoned employees are taking them. These people possess exceptional knowledge and could bring a lot of experience and expertise to an organization as an individual contributor or possibly in leadership.

Great employee, bankrupt company
This may be an exceptional engineer, geologist, accountant or finance employee that stuck it out through all of the difficult times and was such a key contributor that the company probably did everything they could to keep them on staff. In the end, the company goes bankrupt or out of business and these employees land on the street. These are essentially people loyal to their jobs and their organization and may even have great experience in expense reduction since they’ve been there and seen that.

Took a chance on a startup

With funding drying up, many startups were missed timed and no longer had the working capital to keep all of their staff or possibly went into bankruptcy. Many of the employees from these companies turn out to be motivated risk takers with strong business aptitude. They may have done a lot of M&A and/or deal evaluation work and would fit into a fast paced, autonomous culture.

The culturally misaligned

When downsizing, companies may layoff individuals that aren’t seen as culture fits. But, one size doesn’t fit all. So just because a person didn’t fit in at one company, doesn’t mean that they won’t fit yours. A very good friend of mine was told he’d reached his peak at a Fortune 500 company and that he wasn’t “leadership material.” He left 9 years ago and is now the CEO of an extremely successful firm that is quickly rising up the INC 500 list. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

The unhappy employee
Finally, there are still people out there that are not happy with their current situations. These are difficult times and the environments that some are working in are not ideal. This may be the right opportunity to bring a great hire to your company. The key lies in understanding if your company values and requirements match with their priorities and expectations.

Upgrading your talent is not an easy task and definitely not something to be taken lightly. But, ultimately, it can put your company in a position to win over the long-haul. The final point in this article is articulated perfectly by Mercer in their Oil & Gas Talent Outlook – “While business conditions may force workforce actions that no leader ever truly wants to take, if such action is required, the interests of the enterprise and its stakeholders is first and foremost. This perspective enables the enterprise to maintain a market competitive position and rebound to growth.”