For Mark McCutcheon and Donald Dipsingh, the COVID-19 pandemic brought progressing careers to a sudden stop.
Both senior oil and gas professionals, McCutcheon and Dipsingh, like thousands of their peers, were recently handed layoff notices as oil and gas companies — CNOOC Ltd. for them specifically — grapple with tumultuous market conditions.
Both had also managed to survive previous lay off rounds precipitated by challenging energy market conditions overall, but the pandemic pushed them over the precipice — and into a search for their next career stepping stone.
And while they boast strong resumes and workplace track records, they know that won’t be enough to make them stand out in a hyper-competitive job market — particularly one so dramatically reshaped by the pandemic. Yet McCutcheon and Dipsingh are also impacted by a phenomenon well known to oilpatch: it's been a long while since they have had to look for work. They were on upward-rising career paths that with each role or job promotion brought new learning and an opportunity to press toward that next ladder rung.
But the downside for careers that have endured is that such durability can have an insulating effect from fundamentally shifting workplace and hiring dynamics. In the oilpatch, that can often mean a CV framed largely by technical competencies but one that fails to appropriately articulate “softer” skill sets that are frequently a contemporary hiring prerequisite.
Both men realize that they need something beyond routine career counseling to both tease out and reframe existing skills and simultaneously teach them the ropes in a dynamically-shifting job market.
That’s why both are enrolled in a unique online bootcamp they're hoping will take already-impressive CVs and creatively enhance them in a way that position them for a smooth re-entry to the workplace.
“In 18 years, I changed my job four times, but never left the same desk,” noted McCutcheon. “That meant I was never challenged to think about overhauling my resume or preparing for an interview process.”
Calgary-based Higher Landing has stepped into the void with a complimentary 10-week COVID Career Bootcamp designed specifically to help displaced energy professionals re-imagine their careers in a way that primes them to adapt to both pandemic-related hiring realities as well as changes in the overall job marketplace. That could be a pivot to an entirely new field or repositioning to be of more value in the oil and gas sector.
The program includes a series of workshops, clinics and a virtual “Grizzly Den” — a process by which participants learn how to sell themselves more effectively to potential new employers. The bootcamp is a condensed version of Higher Landing’s Shuttle program, which has long been successfully relaunching careers.
McCutcheon is looking forward to developing the skills and perspectives that will help him rethink his current CV, but simultaneously teach how to “sell himself” in a way that’s attractive to a new generation of employers.
“I also like the idea of my peers reviewing my progress and listening to what they have to say in a way that will help me grow.”
Higher Landing has already run two bootcamp cohorts and will launch its third session on July 6.
For Dipsingh, it’s important to have a career already marked by steady ascension up the success ladder maintained by new skills and perspectives. His own experience was configured by major companies continually restructuring and reconfiguring as they sought to find the right structural solution for complex market times. Those shifts often had profound implications for individual careers. From that, he has learned how to anticipate change and move accordingly — but he know skills like personal “branding” are also critical in building a next-generation career with attributes that complement his current resume.
That’s why he’s eager to get the bootcamp process going.
“I'm looking forward to the bootcamp program to refine my personal brand into one that reflects my experience and skillset.” said Dipsingh.
(If you’re an unemployed oil and gas professional, check out the COVID Career Bootcamp application at https://www.higherlanding.com/ccb-application. A bootcamp information session is being held June 29. https://www.higherlanding.com/new-events/2020/06/29/higher-landing-information).