Getting your CV noticed

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Steve Hauxwell
Steve Hauxwell
Graduated with an Honours Geology Degree in 1987, and joined the oil and gas industry straight after. Worked across the globe for three major service companies and four operators up to 2015. Founded Natural Resource Professionals as the upstream energy industry's fist and only talent-matching platform.

Getting your CV noticed

How do we get ourselves noticed, in the increasingly competitive world of oil and gas job hunting, as the ‘lower for longer’ backdrop persists?

There are so many options to improve our chances, but prominence should be given to one key focus area – how we sell ourselves. It is no longer sensible to limit a discussion to your CV, but link the same assumptions to your online social media profiles. You’ve probably heard it all a thousand times before, so why would you bother reading yet another blog on the importance of grammar, a logical presentation and ensuring accuracy? Indeed there would be little point because most of us already understand this.

The key to any discussion is how do we ensure that our CV makes it to the pile shortlisted for review by the Hiring Manager? The answer lies in understanding how that process works, and there are many routes. Your route to the Hiring Manager could be via any of the below.

  1. A personal connection. It doesn’t come any better than this, and if you’re adept at making a good impression and being well-connected, then you are in the very lucky minority. Well done.
  2. A personal introduction or recommendation. A good second best, and in the right context another sure bet to employment.
  3. The Human Resources department, through an internal process. DIY recruiting is becoming increasingly popular, so make sure you can be found and contacted by such people.
  4. A Third Party Recruiter or Executive Search company. Pretty much the same as above, with the added complexity of an additional outsourced company.
  5. A Jobs Board. A bit like playing the slot machines, it’s cheap and worth a punt, but your chances are very slim. The proverbial needle in a haystack.

Of course, there are other ways, but in order of likely success, (from top to bottom) the above five routes are the most common.

Did you notice something?

Did you spot that from top to bottom there was an extra person or company added to the sequence? In other words, one more person to get past en-route to the Hiring Manager.

Your clue to that new job is staring you right in the eyes. How do I get the attention of the Hiring Manager from each of the above routes? What if I simply don’t have the personal connections or networks?

The truth is that through perhaps a few hours of effort we can all create the appropriate networks. Yes, you read that right, all of us.

Now we have your interest, let’s reveal the secret!

At NatResPro, we are a focused Oil and Gas Executive Search company so we will use the example of two hard working, but fictitious Oil and Gas Workers. To provide an analogy both have worked an identical career, but for different companies. Both are actively job hunting, having recently been laid off as Cyber Drillers.

“Candidate A” has worked for the “Alpha Drilling Company” for 20-years, and “Candidate B” has worked for the “Beta Drilling Company” for 20-years.

We will assume that they have both listened to the usual freely available advice, and that their respective CV’s are free from grammar or spelling mistakes, and that they are neatly ordered. We will focus on the way they describe their career history.

“Candidate A”

Oct ’96 – Feb ’98. Roustabout, Alpha Drilling Company, North Sea

General maintenance duties including cleaning, removal of rust and painting work. Report to Assistant Crane Operator

Mar ’98 – Aug ’03. Floorhand, Alpha Drilling Company, North Sea

Ensure that all the surface and downhole equipment is ready for use and that the BOP is regularly inspected. Report to Assistant Driller

Sep ’03 – Nov ’07. Derrickman, Alpha Drilling Company, West Africa

Responsible for handling pipes in the derrick, and while drilling to ensure that the mud pumps function as efficiently as possible. Ensure mud engineers programme is followed. Report to Driller

Dec’ 07 – Jan ’12. Assistant Driller, Alpha Drilling Company, North Africa

Ensure that all the equipment, used for drilling operations, is properly maintained and ready for. Relief Driller duties during tea-breaks.

Feb ’12 – Oct ’12. Driller, Alpha Drilling Company, North Sea

Operate draw works, drilling brake, mud pumps and directly supervise the drill floor crew. Liaise with service hands to ensure smooth operation.

Nov ’12 – Jun ’16. Cyber Driller, Alpha Drilling Company, North Sea

Operate draw works, drilling brake and mud pumps via the cyber system. Directly supervise the drill floor crew. Liaise with service hands to ensure smooth operation.

“Candidate B”

Oct ’96 – Feb ’98. Roustabout, Beta Drilling Company, UKCS, Southern North Sea

Worked on the “Beta Drillsafe” 2nd generation jack-up in 40m water depth drilling slanted wells for “Sun Energy Corporation”.

Mar ’98 – Aug ’03. Floorhand, Beta Drilling Company, UKCS, Northern North Sea

Assigned to various ‘Venture Drilling Enterprise’ platforms including the “Blackbird Bravo”, “Robin Echo” and “Starling Charlie” performing workovers and long-radius sidetracks in depleted oil reservoirs.

Sep ’03 – Nov ’07. Derrickman, Beta Drilling Company, Gabon, West Africa

Worked on the “Beta Enterprise 3” Cyber land-rig for “African Oil and Gas Ventures” drilling extended reach horizontal wells through a fractured oil reservoir with total loss issues.

Dec’ 07 – Jan ’12. Assistant Driller, Beta Drilling Company, Libya, North Africa

Worked on the “Beta Blue Ocean” semi-submersible in 690m water depth using managed pressure drilling techniques to overcome total losses to drill an exploration well for “Mediterranean Resources”.

Feb ’12 – Oct ’12. Driller, Beta Drilling Company, Danish Sector, North Sea

Worked on the “Beta Continental Explorer III” jack-up for an HPHT development campaign drilling ERD wells through a fractured carbonate reservoir.

Nov ’12 – Jun ’16. Cyber Driller, Beta Drilling Company, Danish Sector, North Sea

Worked on the “Beta Continental Explorer IV” jack-up for an HPHT development campaign drilling ERD wells through a fractured carbonate reservoir.

So in our entirely fictitious example, it can be seen that “Candidate A” and “Candidate B” have had identical careers, and have both created honest and factually correct CV’s. Neither of them has exaggerated or been tempted to tell a few “white lies”. They both E-mailed their CV’s to a handful of recruitment agencies and uploaded similar profiles on several social media sites, and a couple of jobs boards.

Who did best?

Of the hundreds, if not thousands of CV’s that have passed across desks, we see approximately 80-90% of CV’s aligned with our fictitious “Candidate A”. There is a reason for this, quite simply that we are all used to a system where one-on-one personal relationships filled in all the missing detail. The people “Candidate “A” has trusted to find a career move have all taken the time to get to know “Candidate A” and can fill in the gaps. It would also work fine if “Candidate A” were known to the Hiring Manager, or his/her close associate, and therefore personally recommended.

Sadly today’s world of oil and gas recruiting is too fast paced for personal relationships. Taking time to nurture and develop relationships costs time and therefore money, which comes straight off of the bottom line. A trip to, for example, Aberdeen in Scotland, might dispel this myth, and any number of recruiters may well be happy to make an appointment and allow you to have a career chat with one of their specialists. But this is not the normal, and is a far cry from the large multinationals with corporate offices in cities far away from the world’s oilfields. For those living close to Aberdeen this would be a good option and something we would encourage either candidate to pursue.

Based on a new breed of faced paced, volume based recruiters “Candidate A” will not fair very well at all. The reason is not down to his/her experience, which is identical to “Candidate B”, but down to the words that were not mentioned on his/her CV. “Candidate B” has simply produced a keyword rich CV, containing all the words that either a robot (in the form of scanning software) or a junior staff member will be tasked with identifying.

The Hiring Manager may well have given a very brief job description, which will not include generic job roles.

We can now relate a fictitious brief back to our candidates CV’s.

The brief would have likely included the words “Cyber Driller”, “HPHT”, “ERD”, “Jack-up” and “Danish Sector”.

Robots and office juniors are trained to find these words, as are bonus driven recruitment agents with a keen eye on scanning CV’s for the “Hot Leads” that are most likely to hold the key which unlocks the safe containing their next bonus.

Unless job boards are of the highest order, they will also be unlikely to offer the keyword rich database options required to capture critical key tags. These sites offer little manual QAQC to catch honest data entry mistakes, and as candidates usually enter their own profile data the result can be very subjective, making comparisons between individual candidate profiles an onerous and time-consuming task.

So, perhaps unwittingly “Candidate B” has managed to present their CV in the best possible way, and has caught the attention of as many eyes as possible, be they human or robotic ones. “Candidate B” edges out the 80-90% of candidates that had failed to recognise how modern day recruiting actually works.

Cynics will say this is CV manipulation, and that when both candidates were Roustabouts, neither was directly involved with the drilling operations. We disagree entirely, as neither CV suggests that either candidate was a Cyber Driller at the time, so there is no manipulation. The candidates were both working on a jack-up in the UKCS Southern North Sea, and this is still adding to their relevant experience. Demonstrating an awareness of the ongoing rig activities, regardless of your level of personal involvement, always gives a good impression.

Next time you decide to update your CV, have a look for yourself and determine how much of your hard earned experience is missing. Don’t throw away any chances you have of finding that next job. Go ahead and fill in all the gaps, and don’t forget to do the same for any other online social media or job board profiles you may have.

Building those all-important personal networks is now well underway. You are a candidate people will want to connect with, and speak to.

And if you find it all too daunting, we are here to help. We can certainly assist or point you in the right direction, but we cannot fill in the gaps.

(This post was originally published at



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