​Unemployed oil and gas professionals need to think “transformation”—not “transition”—if they expect to land a job in 2017

“Transitioning” to a new job is so old school. A new job market is taking shape and it will require something of a personal transformation of oil and gas professionals if they expect to find work.

“Knowing your brand is going to be absolutely everything in 2017,” Jackie Rafter, president of Higher Landing, told an audience at a Calgary event called the GoldMind Project this week.

Organized by Calgary Economic Development and “career transformation” company Higher Landing, the GoldMind project is an attempt to help unemployed professionals repurpose their skillsets and find work.

“You're going to be rewarded on the value that you bring rather than the loyalty or time you spent with an employer,” Rafter said.

“If you don't know your value, there is no way you're going to be able to attract the best opportunities because you need to educate somebody on why they should hire you… Are they going to make them more money? Are they going to increase shareholder value? Are they going to make them look better?"

If loyalty to an employer is no longer marketable, neither is loyalty to any one industry. Most job seekers already reflect that reality. Of the close to 400 laid-off professionals who attended the event and filled out a survey, 91 per cent said they were looking outside their industry.

The pending exodus of talent from the oil and gas industry is being lamented by pundits as another “lost generation,” similar to that of the 1980s-90s. But many people don’t have a choice and will need to look further afield.

“What you may not realize is that these people are terrified,” Rafter said.

“Their severances are running out. They're starting to cash in their RRSPs. They don't know who to turn to. And they're worried that their skills and professions are becoming redundant—some of them, unfortunately, are right.”

Rafter said that the methods of job searching have changed. Throwing a resume up on social media and responding to online job postings doesn’t work.

To be effective, today’s unemployed professionals need to become much better at identifying their skills and values, creating a brand for themselves, and selling that brand.

“In 2017, Calgary is going to be about transferable skills and marketing your value or, as I like to say, your secret sauce,” she said.

“More people are landing jobs in the hidden job market. Most of the jobs I see our clients land are not advertised or they haven't been created yet. So you have to be able to articulate what it is that makes you different and stand out. What value can you provide an employer and then tell them about it.”