We’re ready – are you?

THERE was some welcome news for the energy industry this week as Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce announced the results of its 26th Oil & Gas Survey which points towards growing confidence levels across the sector.

For those of us on the Chamber’s Executive Springboard programme, all of whom were casualties of redundancy following the fall in the oil price, this news is cheering for a number of reasons - but among the many things we’ve learned over the past month is the realisation that we are not as bound to the variances of the cyclical energy industry as we had once thought.

What we have is confidence in the valuable skills we have to offer employers across a huge number of sectors, not just oil and gas. Put simply, we have learned the value of our personal brand.

Historically, the oil and gas sector has invested heavily in the training and development of its workers. We are highly skilled and experienced people who know what we are doing and are by and large pretty darned good at it.

A large proportion of workers in the oil and gas industry provide support functions, such as accounts, administration, contracts and commercial activities. These are all transferrable functions which follow the same broad approach whether you are working in exploration, construction, manufacturing, aviation or any number of sectors.

What we lacked, however, was the ability to communicate to prospective employers how these skills can be easily and effectively transferred into their sector.

Over the last few weeks we have been shown how to identify our core values, our strengths and attributes and even the behaviours which make us good candidates. We’ve been taught how to look through the eyes of potential employers and understand how to influence their perception – or misconceptions – of who we are and what we can offer.

Several Springboarders have spoken of their frustration over the reluctance of particular sectors to engage with ex-oil and gas workers and pondered what we could do to try to change their minds. The chances are it will take more than our collective might to achieve that but for anyone else who is in the same boat, it is worth considering that perhaps that isn’t really the challenge.

There are a large number of senior people on the market all competing for a small number of jobs. It is very much an employers’ market but having completed the programme we are better informed, able to be more proactive and more realistic about how tough the job market is.

We’ve been given the tools and how it’s up to us to put the advice we’ve been given into action.

An unexpected bonus has been experiencing how our little group has come together to help each other. As senior personnel, most of us have always done our best to support and encourage colleagues in our careers but it’s been a while since we’ve felt others are there to support us. And it feels good.

There are a limited number of places still available on the third and final intake of the Executive Springboard so if you are out there, reading this, not sure if it’s for you or not, the best piece of advice from this ongoing bunch of Springboarders is to take the first step.

Positive action combined with positive thinking can only result in success.

Supported by the Transition Training Fund, the Executive Springboard aims to help middle and senior managers who lost their jobs in the downturn find new pathways into employment.

  • Multiple participants on the Executive Springboard have contributed to the blog series.