Russ: Welcome back to The BusinessMakers Show brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business. And for today’s first featured guest, from last week’s EnergyMakers Show, Whitney Brady, Manager of the oil and gas division for the Americas for Faststream Recruitment Group. Whitney, welcome to The EnergyMakers.
Whitney: Thank you Russ, how are you today?
Russ: I’m doing great; it’s great to be here.
Russ: So tell us about Faststream Recruiting Group.
Whitney: Faststream Recruitment Group was founded in the UK in 1999 and we are a recruiting firm that specializes in the shipping, maritime and oil and gas industry. So we do direct hire placement, contract and contract to hire placement on and offshore.
Russ: So being based in Houston does that mean that this primarily focused on oil and gas?
Whitney: Absolutely. Our team here in Houston just specializes in oil and gas and we basically do anything that touches the oil and gas or energy industry in North and South America and we’ve got some teams in Florida that specialize on marine and shipping.
Russ: Okay, so here it’s upstream, midstream and downstream?
Whitney: Yes, all three.
Russ: So it is kind of unique times in what you do, right?
Whitney: It is, it is unique times with what’s going on in the industry right now and we’re having a lot of candidates that are coming to us that are unfortunately going through layoffs and so we’re helping them identify their next opportunities and we’re also working with a number of companies in the industry, especially on the midstream and downstream side, that are seeing some growth and are looking to hire good talent.
Russ: It seems like it’s sort of a traditional supply and demand business; sometimes the supply is much higher like we’re in now but before that the demand must have been a lot higher. But I guess if you’re in the business it keeps going no matter what, right?
Whitney: You know it does keep going and one thing about the oil and gas industry is that it’s so project-centric; you’re always going to have projects that are starting and projects that are competing and we’re seeing a lot of companies that are hiring people even on a contract basis to help complete a certain project or a certain task and then ending that contract to allow them to go do something else in their skill set once that project is completed.
Russ: Okay and you guys actually handle contract placement too?
Whitney: We do, absolutely. So we place contractors on and offshore so it gives them an opportunity for those companies that are looking for that type of assistance for projects to be able to work through that and identify somebody with a skill set just for that project to complete it and not have to kind of worry about what to move them in to if their skill set doesn’t match something beyond the project.
Russ: So it’s the upstream category that’s really taking a beating these days. Do you actually find sometimes people that maybe lost their job in upstream and find a midstream or downstream placement for them?
Whitney: We absolutely do. I was actually working with a candidate a couple weeks ago that has been recently in subsea and was going to be laid off but has pipeline experience prior to that onshore, so we were working with him to kind of create a way to transfer his skill set and make that a little more apparent to move him from subsea back to working with pipelines onshore since there’s so much going on in the midstream and downstream area in the building and the continued growth of the infrastructure, especially here in Texas.
Russ: Here’s something I always wonder about times like these; upstream they’re laying off but are some companies actually hiring in upstream as well?
Whitney: They are. We do have upstream companies that are coming to us and hiring and I think that the other thing that we’re seeing in the industry is there is still a shortage of talent and also as we have this baby boom generation that’s retiring we’re continuing to have that generation gap and that skill gap which is going to continue to increase over the next few years. The other thing that companies do oftentimes in an environment like this is they continue to look for good talent and sometimes you can get some really great talent during a market like this as it might bring a couple of people to your notice that you might not have looked at before or might have not been looking for a new opportunity a couple of years ago.
Russ: Okay, so it might be an E&P company that might not necessarily need somebody in a position but see a real talented person and actually bring them on in these conditions?
Whitney: Absolutely. We’re also seeing some of those companies that are looking for business development folks that might have really good relationships to develop at this time or help open doors to those companies that they might not have done previously. And the other thing that we’re seeing in upstream is now that things for some companies are a little less busy it’s allowing them an opportunity to really go forth and do some of the things that they might not have had time to do over the last several years. So maybe revamping and updating of HSE plans or some of those types of things and so it’s allowing the companies to really spend time and focus on projects that might not have gotten done because they were so busy doing other things.
Russ: Okay, real interesting. I would assume we have people watching that are thinking wow, this is good news what I’m hearing from Whitney. But back to sort of the contract thing, do you actually have people contact you and say look I lost my job but I’d love to just go do some contract work right now and these are my talents and skills; does that happen as well?
Whitney: It does, it absolutely does. And working a contract position can be great for a number of reasons. Number one, it can be an opportunity to fill in while you’re in between positions and keep working and keep that income coming. But it can also give you an opportunity to gain new skill sets on a different type of a project or be able to show how your skills can be transferrable into another area.
And so we do see that quite a bit and it can be a great opportunity and even if you work for a company as a contractor you never know, if you do a great job there might be a longer term opportunity for you there. And it also really allows you to increase you network with the folks that you’re working with at that company and then other people that you might be working with on the project.
Russ: But still, probably looking at the mass majority of people that are participating in this industry – upstream right now there are people that are probably really wanting and looking for a job – so what kind of advice would you give the people in that category?
Whitney: I think the first thing is just to be really open-minded. If you’ve worked in upstream for a long time and that’s what you’ve done we don’t have a crystal ball, we don’t know when the oil price is going to change; we can’t foresee that. So have an open mind and maybe seek out opportunities in some of the other areas of the industry where your skill sets can be utilized and there are other areas of the industry right now that are busy as we’re still continuing to produce oil.
Russ: All right, and you are international but it seems like the lull in the market is effecting everybody involved; is that true? Or are there countries and locations where the demand for people is still high despite the price?
Whitney: Well I think it really depends geographically. You see a lot of areas that are struggling and then you see some areas that are busy and depending upon what the projects are that are going on that’s part of it. The North Sea of course has slowed down quite a bit so you’re not seeing as many offshore crewing opportunities, that type of thing there, but we’re seeing a lot of business that we’re currently doing in the Middle East and some of those areas.
There’s a lot of business that our Singapore office does in the Asia Pacific region and we’re doing a lot of business in Mexico and South America. So we’ve also done some placements recently in Canada so there are companies that do have opportunities with those places and if you are willing and you’re flexible and you’re versatile in what you want to do and you’re flexible in where you want to go that can also open the door to other opportunities for you.
Russ: So say I just got laid off and I’ve got my mindset right and I’m trying to go out there and get back in the game, how do I address the fact that I was laid off on my resume? I mean do I not address it? Do I just give them my old resume? What’s your advice there?
Whitney: Well you should always update your resume and make sure that it’s got your most recent skill set on it, what you’ve done, and there’s nothing wrong with putting on your resume that you’ve left because you were laid off. If you just put on there a start and an end date at the company and you write a cover letter, that’s certainly something that you can include in the cover letter and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And you’re going to see that in this type of an industry so when you’ve gotten laid off, or you know that you’re going to get laid off, the first thing you should do is absolutely update your resume.
You should also update LinkedIn and update your information on there and sometimes you can go in there underneath your name and your job title and you can put that you’re currently seeking a new opportunity in whatever it might be that you’re seeking an opportunity in. And after you’ve done those things and then you’ve really kind of taken a step back and looked and kind of decided what it is that you want to do you should start exploring opportunities that are out there for that type of role and then you should also start looking for your network and thinking who can I call.
If you see a position at a company that you’re interested in and you happen to know somebody that works there, reach out to that individual and see if they can internally refer you or they can say something to their HR department or the hiring manager or what have you to kind of help your resume get a little more notice once you’ve submitted it.
Russ: Because you’re saying personal networks are still very important.
Whitney: Incredibly important.
Russ: Well Whitney I really appreciate you sharing your perspective with us on this very important topic, thank you very much.
Whitney: Absolutely, thank you.
Russ: You bet. All right, and that wraps up our interview with Whitney Brady of the Faststream Recruitment Group. Coming up nest Atanu Basu of Ayata, and this is The BusinessMakers Show brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business.
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