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Kevin’s Blog / Top Tips: Applying for Work in the Oil Sands

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If you’re planning on looking for work in the Oil Sands, here’s some advice to help get you in.

Top Tips: Applying for Work in the Oil Sands

Make Sure Your Resume Doesn’t Get You Skipped Over

Your resume may not get you a job, but a poorly done resume can get you tossed to the ‘NO’ pile pretty quick. 

In case you don’t know, many companies have front-line resume screeners.  These people are low-level administrators who quickly screen or scan resumes for suitability. Think about it. Someone’s job is to NOT pass bad resumes on to their boss.
Still think a resume with blue text and multi-coloured balloons floating around is a good idea?

Have the Qualifications

Studies show a lot of people, but mostly men, apply for jobs they are simply not qualified for. I’m not saying “Don’t stretch it”, but be realistic when applying for positions outside your experience. Credentials like a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering or Technical Trade certification are great to have, but won’t necessarily get you the Heavy Equipment Operator job. 

If you’re starting at the bottom, apply for an apprenticeship position, general labour, or basic administrative/logistic work, such as warehousing and material handling positions.

Don’t Get Too Smart

While you may want to demonstrate your knowledge by using industry jargon, be careful about overdoing it. Think of that front-line resume screener again, and make sure you’re not talking over their head. 

Get Online

Online job searches are the fastest way to get informed on what’s happening in the job market.

  • Update your own presence online. Keep an up to date profile / resume available for people searching for you to read. Maybe even clean up your Facebook, etc., to avoid sabotaging yourself with those pictures of you at your last job?
  • Check out the companies you’re applying to. This can help you find the names of the right people to contact and can prepare you for potential interviews. 

Flash your Skills

You have to sell yourself and what you bring. There are many opportunities in the Oil Sands, and hard skills in math & science disciplines as well as soft skills like communications are needed as much as hands-on technical skills.

Use the Right Bait

If you want to catch the attention of an employer, use the right keywords or buzzwords. Words like Teamwork. Team Building. Trust. Today’s employers love them. Leadership, Self-motivated, & Able to Work Under Pressure are other soft skill keywords.

Resume Tips:

Apply for a specific job with a cover letter and resume for that job. 

  • If you pay someone for your resumes, buy a new one for each job application.
  • If you create your own, make sure you create unique resumes tailored for specific job applications and employers.
  • Have a plain text copy prepared for applying online or via email.

Be concise and make it easy for the reader. Use an easy to read font or theme. Use a spell check.

List all relevant work experience, courses & any volunteer work.

Embrace the idea of Relocation & Travel

Oil production happens where the oil is. You either move to near your work or do the in-and-out traveling thing, living in camp while working. 

As you progress, expect to travel (i.e. to head offices or training centres) for training and upgrading sessions.

  • If you’re applying for a job requiring relocation, research the area’s home prices and/or rental costs. 
  • When applying for a fly-in fly-out job, make sure the work and travel schedule works for you, your family & your lifestyle. 

Best of luck in your search!

Of course, knowing as much as possible about Oil Sands production is a great asset when looking for work, and completing Contendo’s SAGD Oil Sands Online Training is a certifiable way of proving you know what you’re talking about.

Find out more about SAGD & oil recovery in the Canadian Oil Sands.

Go to Contendo’s SAGD Oil Sands Online Training page.

Kevin Fox is a power engineer & senior technical writer at Contendo, who has written process education programs for industrial clients and students since 2009.

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