Two years ago, I wrote a blog about the perfect storm battering Albertans and the Alberta economy. The winds have only escalated since then. We’re now five years into this generational shift in the economy, where we’ll have lost over 60,000 direct oil and gas jobs alone by the end of 2019.
What’s Happened In Alberta?
The oil and gas crisis has produced huge pools of highly skilled unemployed professionals. Most were from the oil and gas industry. Some of these people haven’t worked in four years. And some of these are Canada’s greatest economic contributors, historically speaking. But desperation set in a long time ago.
Across Alberta, homes have been sold at a loss, consumer insolvencies have increased 80% since 2014 and food bank and distress centre usage has skyrocketed. I’ve had clients cash in RRSPs to feed their families, pull spouses out of retirement so they don’t lose their homes, and get divorced due to unprecedented financial strain.
The human cost here is overwhelming.
What’s The Cause?
It’s not just the fall in commodity prices, or the lack of pipeline capacity or lack of investment capital. Nor is it just the rise of automation as companies streamline their workforces with the aid of job-breaking new technologies like AI and machine learning.
It’s all these things coming together that completely reshaped Alberta’s economic landscape. Forever.
We have the perfect storm.
And it’s Worst For Oil And Gas Job Seekers
Many employers outside oil and gas have a deep-seeded bias against hiring energy workers. A survey of our clients in early 2019 revealed that 80% of downsized O&G workers want to change industries. But the barriers often seem insurmountable.
This is especially true for mid-career professionals who believe their age is impeding their job search, and for those that see a transition to growth industries like technology as either awkward, unrealistic or impossible.
The reality is that these people can bring immense value to new industries; they have excellent transferable skills, great experience, can learn quickly and have the desire to make an impact.
And they don’t want to leave Alberta!
What these people are often missing is a true understanding of their own value.
It’s About Career Transformation, Not Old School Job Search
Old job search techniques have been dead for years now. But many professionals have not adapted their approach to the new realities of our economy and haven’t stopped to figure out what their value is.
Why? Because they’ve never had to.
We have helped hundreds of Albertans weather this economic storm and get back to work. They’ve landed new roles in new industries by managing their career in ways that are aligned with their true value, and the new reality of work in 2019. This is career transformation. And it’s the only path forward.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re looking to transform your career in Alberta in 2019:
1. Assume control of your own career management. Nobody is going to hold your hand and do this for you anymore. You need to be constantly be looking for opportunities to demonstrate your value – at your current employer or at a new one.
2. Expect to be rewarded for your value, not your loyalty. Employers want to know how you will apply your previous experience to their businesses. Long tenure at an organization is no longer a meal ticket to your next job. So, if you don’t know what your value is, and if you can’t state it clearly, how can anyone pay you for it? What problem or pain point can you address? What makes you the unique person who can solve it?
3. Embrace career security rather than job security. To have career security, you need to know your value. You owe it to yourself to figure out what your value is because that’s something nobody can ever take away from you. A job can be ripped away from you in a minute, but knowing your value stays with you for life – and for the duration of your career.
4. Know your “career DNA”. No two people who have the same job, education or experience are the same. What makes you different from the thousands of other candidates vying for similar roles? I can tell you that it’s certainly not your skills. Give yourself permission to connect your head to your heart. You may find out what makes you so different from the candidate next to you. Don’t try to be someone you are not, or you risk being labelled a “career chameleon”.
5. Live your career nirvana. Career nirvana is getting paid for the value you bring, rather than a former job title, credential or something you did in the past. Seek out employers who appreciate your value or you’ll be wasting your time – and theirs. Credentials are a dime a dozen. Value is not.
6. Understand contract work is ok. Discontinuous career paths are now the norm. Don’t turn down an opportunity just because it isn’t a permanent role. Contracts can turn in to permanent roles. Spend your time looking for opportunities to demonstrate your value. There is far less bias towards those who have worked for many employers in the past 10 years, rather than just one. Welcome to 2019!
7. Demonstrate learnability. This is one of the top skills needed for the future of work because things are changing so rapidly. Don’t let the absence of a minor technical skill get in the way of your job search. If you have a track record of learning things quickly, SAY SO! Lifelong learning is now the norm. Invest in yourself.
8. Consider creating your own job. This is the best time in Alberta’s history to create your own job. I’ve seen many people have roles created for them based on the value they offer, and a pain point they can solve. If someone doesn’t have a problem for you to solve, you shouldn’t be there. If they do, they may very well create a new role for you.
2019 is About Career Transformation
Career management in 2019 is about career transformation and knowing your value. This is especially true if you are an oil and gas professional in Alberta. If you can’t articulate how an organization will be different with you in it, you’re not ready to go to market. In any industry.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of this daunting topic. If you would like to learn more, register for an information session or workshop at https://www.higherlanding.com/career-seekers or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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