Lots of Energy Needed to Recruit Oil & Gas Engineers

Oil and natural gas companies are fishing in a shrinking talent pool for qualified engineers, said a Tulsa-based recruiter.
Jim Gifford, president of JGifford Inc., 5801 E. 41st St., Ste. 710, said everyone is trying to draw from a limited amount of available manpower, which has been created by a booming energy sector that continues to expand.
“It means the bigger fish get pulled out. Yet, the smaller employers still have engineering needs, and that impacts me. I can find these people, but trying to find the really good ones is difficult,” Gifford said.
JGifford Inc. concentrates on engineering staffing in manufacturing, exploration and production and refining and petrochemical industries. Gifford also places professionals in the human resources and accounting sectors.
The exploration and production business sets the bar “pretty high,” in terms of salary and benefits, Gifford said.
“The upstream guys are paying a premium, even ridiculous sums for these kids coming out of college,” he said. “Oil is at $90 a barrel. If you can’t make money now, you never will.”
The demand has grown so intense that people coming out of college are commanding starting salaries in the $65,000 to $75,000 range — about $10,000 to $20,000 more than just 5 years ago, Gifford said.
Current salaries are so high that enticing already-employed engineers to leave for another opportunity is rarely to not at all successful, Gifford said.
“It is my experience that companies are doing a better job of taking care of their employees,” Gifford said. “The HR function is more valued.”
On a 1 to 10 scale in skill with 10 representing those most skille, the top engineers are 8s and 9s, Gifford said. “Every company is at that level.”
The engineers at 5 and 6 are acceptable, “but companies ask me, ‘What else do you have?’” ?

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