Oilfield Hiring Slowdown Strategies

Posted in Boom Town Life

Oilfield Hiring Slowdown Strategies

The news is awash with reports about the falling price of oil. As a result, there are also growing numbers of reports that touch on the subject of possible slowdowns in the oilfields. Will these slowdowns mean that layoffs by oilfield companies won’t be far behind? Will your company start laying off employees? Only time will tell. Fracking Jobs has put together some oilfield hiring slowdown strategies that you can use: There is plenty of oilfield hiring going on – right now. The news media makes money when ratings are high or papers sell (that latter outlet has plenty of problems, however). Remember this when you see the types of alarmist headlines that trumpet crashing oil prices the way headlines tend to exaggerate, well, just about anything. You might think that every oil patch in the U.S. is about to close up operations and shut down every rig. Nothing could be further from the truth. Will oil production slow down? Yes, most likely. Will some rigs cease operations? Sure. But let’s face it: the need for fossil fuels isn’t going away anytime soon. While lower oil prices are negatively affecting some companies with serious debt loads and putting a crimp on profits for healthy firms, that doesn’t mean that everyone in the shale business is going broke. Take a look at the many fracking jobs listed on this site today. The newspapers won’t tell you that there is hiring going on in the oil and gas business – but we will. Keep things in perspective: we’ve been here before. Energy businesses, like many businesses, are cyclical. Veterans of the business have been through booms and busts before. They’ve seen the price of oil fall drastically in the past like it did in 1986, 2008, and other years. We all know that what goes up, must come down. But more importantly: the opposite happens as well. Today’s oil price crash will ultimately lead, paradoxically, to at least some recovery in oil prices as supplies drop due to reduced production. At the same time, the continued development of certain economies like those in Brazil and India will keep demand for oil from completely crashing. And don’t count China out as a major petroleum consumer, even if its economy is slowing compared to recent years. Start a business. This seems like a very trite, almost meaningless suggestion. After all, the web is saturated with lame articles about “How to Start an eBay Business!” or “Make Money Fast With Craigslist!”, etc. etc. However, it is possible to start any number of tiny businesses like house painting, landscaping, junk hauling, pool service, etc. with little money upfront. Especially if you already own a pickup truck. At the same time that oil prices are falling, the overall economy is picking up outside of the oil and gas business. This paradox means that residential services like...

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Stay Healthy, Get a Flu Shot!

Posted in Boom Town Life

Stay Healthy, Get a Flu Shot!

It’s the time of year again where we all have to start thinking about preparing for the onslaught of winter, which also means preparing for the onslaught of nasty things like colds and flu. In order to stay healthy this winter and to make sure you don’t lose work hours due to illness, you and your family need to get flu shots. They are quick, painless (really!), and inexpensive. In fact, sometimes flu shots are completely free, even if you don’t currently have insurance. Flu shots not only prevent flu and flu-like symptoms, but they can also help to fight the common cold or at least reduce the impact of a cold on your system should you catch one. Flu immunizations are very safe, despite the flawed views that some folks have regarding these types of preventive health measures. You put yourself, your co-workers, and your family at risk by not getting a flu shot. While some other diseases are getting the headlines these days, remember that the flu can be deadly. Influenza is responsible for killing as many as an estimated 49,000 people during a 30-year period tracked by the Centers for Disease Control. Even though the total is likely lower, you should consider that not getting a flu shot puts you at significant risk of getting a serious illness which can last for several days. Is the inconvenience worth it? Probably not. Below, you can find out where you can get a flu shot – and a cute bandage like the one in the photo – in some of the more significant states where oilfield work is occurring: Texas Full-service local health departments in Texas North Dakota North Dakota influenza website Montana Montana flu information Ohio Ohio Dept. of Health influenza page Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Dept. of Health flu page Colorado Colorado flu resources West Virginia West Virginia flu prevention resources http://www.flu.gov/stay-connected/vaccinelocator_2011.html Of course, those who are already gainfully employed in the oilfields will probably have access to flu shots via their employers. For those who are in the midst of an oilfield job hunt, if your state isn’t listed above, you can find clinics near you that are dispensing flu shots using the “flu shot finder” window displayed at left. Simply type in your present zip code to find flu clinics near you. Get a flu shot – and stay out of the hospital this...

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Are Oilfield Jobs Worth Big Paychecks?

Posted in Boom Town Life

While you may have heard that oilfield jobs can be lucrative (yes we know this, Captain Obvious), it bears repeating that these types of jobs pay well because they require long hours and dedication. Those who bring home the largest paychecks are also working the longest hours, willing to relocate, and are also willing to get the certifications and training necessary to gain the higher paying gigs. Most of you know this already. But some of you who are coming from corporate offices, union shops, college campuses, and retail environments need to be aware of the realities of the oilfields. These questions may have crossed your mind while you look for a fracking job: Can I make good money without working overtime? Well, sorry…but probably not. Unless you are working in a position that might be considered professional, managerial, or technical, you will make the real money in the oilfields when you start racking up overtime pay (beyond 40 hours per week) which is equal to time-and-a-half pay. If you aren’t willing or able to work beyond 40 hours per week, stay away from the oilfields. 60 or 70 hour workweeks are the norm, not the exception. This is why you’re hearing stories about folks making six figures per year. The pay is good, to be sure, but those paychecks are supercharged with lots of overtime hours. How can anyone make six figures per year working an hourly gig? Do the math. Assume you can earn $22 per hour, which you probably won’t get if you are new to oilfield work, but is very possible if you have two years’ experience or more. $22 x 40 = $880. Time and a half means that $22 becomes $33 per hour. You might work, say, 70 hours each week. So you’ll earn $880 from your first 40 hours, plus $990 from your overtime hours. $880 + $990 = $1,870. $1,870 x 52 (weeks in the year) = $97,240. Now, let’s add a couple of beers to the equation, since you are most likely to hear the “I made six figures last year” stories from your buddy’s cousin who just returned from North Dakota a few weeks ago. The realistic $97k per year might become, oh…$120k, $130k…you get the idea. People (men) tend to exaggerate two things on a consistent basis: how much they make, and how much bedroom activity they participate in. At any rate, that original $97k is pretty darn close to six figures. But remember: that’s based on seventy hours of paid work time per week, or ten hours of work for every single one of the 365 days that exist in a year. It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. But maybe it’s for you, if only for a brief period in your life. Is it worth it to go to college before entering the oil and...

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Oilfield Housing Options

Posted in Boom Town Life

Along with actually finding a fracking job, the biggest concern for most individuals who seek oilfield employment is finding a place to live near the job site. The largest and most productive oil shale plays are also in rather remote regions, far from large metropolitan areas. Because of this, housing has become an issue not only for potential oilfield employees, but their prospective employers as well. Unless you already live near a fracking boom town, you’ll have to consider where you’ll park your work boots in between shifts. Let’s take a look at some of the more common oilfield housing options, and the pros and cons to each: Workforce Housing (“Man Camps”) – If you are able to secure employment with one of the larger oilfield employers, you may be able to get a room in a “workforce housing” facility. Also known as “man camps” (not meant to be an endearing term), workforce housing allows oil and gas companies to offer shelter to employees working in remote locations. Workforce housing generally consists of buildings that have been constructed of prefabricated components, rather like higher-end mobile homes. No nonsense housing for oilfield work crews, workforce housing nevertheless offers a certain degree of comfort and security compared to other oilfield housing options. It’s not always available to individuals working for smaller companies, however. Live in an RV – Because the fracking boom has been so intense in some parts of the country (like North Dakota’s Bakken region or the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas), some workers are living in recreational vehicles as alternatives to more expensive or simply unavailable apartments and motels. RV living has its own set of issues vs. living in more “fixed” locations, of course. However, one can simply turn the key and move within minutes, if necessary. Living in an RV certainly isn’t for everyone, but it may be the way to go if you can spend the money up front for a house on wheels. Once the initial outlay has been taken care of, your monthly parking space rent will be far less than what you’ll spend for an apartment or other type of rental unit. Sleeper Cab on a Semi – If you don’t have a commercial driver license, consider getting one, even if you have a less-than-perfect driving record. Most oilfield employers want their crew members to be in possession of CDLs because the vehicle of choice around any oil shale rig is: a truck. Once you get a CDL, you’ll not only gain employment options, you’ll gain a housing option as well. Some of the firms that seek out drivers to haul crude oil, water, or frac sand have trucks with sleeper cabs. This allows their drivers to sleep in the cabs when they are finished working for the day. Since many workers in the oilfields regularly work 12-hour, 14-hour, or even...

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Texas Oil Boom: the Good and the Bad

Posted in Boom Town Life

Texas Oil Boom: the Good and the Bad

In a recent article featuring the fracking oil boom in Texas, USA Today takes a look at not only the positives that fracking is bringing to the Lone Star State, but also the downsides. There is no argument that fracking has unleashed an unprecedented oil boom in Texas (and elsewhere), bringing with it amazing wealth and huge job gains for those either living in the big shale play areas or those willing to move there. But with any economic boom, there are always a few drawbacks, as well. In the case of Texas, there have been reports of upticks in crime, traffic accidents as large trucks crowd formerly sleepy roadways, and local residents being affected with health concerns.   We at Fracking Jobs believe that Texas is taking the necessary steps to address these concerns via such groups as the South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable (STEER). According to its own website, STEER will “work to ensure that all stakeholders throughout the Eagle Ford Shale region are able to effectively maximize opportunities in a responsible and collaborative way, (and)…will facilitate and coordinate communication, education and public advocacy surrounding the production of energy resources in South Texas.” Texas has a long history with the oil industry and the boom and bust cycles that accompany it. Fracking has been undertaken for many years in the state of Texas without long-term adverse effects to the state’s environment, and now Texas is on its way to becoming not only an economic powerhouse because of new shale discoveries – it will help America achieve full energy independence, and safely. To find fracking jobs in Texas, click...

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Temp Firm Pros and Cons

Posted in Boom Town Life

Temp Firm Pros and Cons

Like it or not, “temp” firms (or “staffing” firms) are a part of the fracking boom reality. For those who lack oil and gas industry experience, dealing with a temporary employment firm can be one way to find employment in the oilfield (those who already have experience may be able to bypass temp firms). There are advantages – and disadvantages – to dealing with temp firms within the oilfield business just as in all other businesses. However, they don’t necessarily have the best interests of you – the employee – at heart. Keep this fact in mind when pursuing work via temp firms. Here are some temp firm pros and cons: Pros: Find work fast. It’s possible to find work within hours of walking into a temp firm office. In fracking boom towns like those in Texas and North Dakota, if you’re looking for a quick paycheck, you should visit the temp firms especially if you don’t have rig experience. At the very least, you’ll find work somewhere even if it isn’t a high-paying oil and gas position. If you have a CDL, you’ll be put to work. If you have rigging experience, however, you might do well to avoid temp firms as you’ll be paid less than your experience should allow, unless you need money quickly. At any rate, securing work via a temp firm is a good stopgap plan while you look around for higher-paying gigs. No upfront fees. All reputable temporary help firms charge fees to the employers seeking workers. (However, they do charge – in a way – those that they provide work for. See ‘the temp firm gets a cut’ below in the Cons section.) The larger temp firms like Manpower, Kelly Services, Olsten, etc. make money not only on fees charged to employers, but also from employee payroll, paperwork, and training services provided to their client companies. You, the walk-in seeking quick work, will not have to pay anything up front. If you are expected to, in fact – then the temp firm you walked into is likely a fraudulent outfit. Generally little or no downtime between gigs. Should you receive a work assignment that lasts only a few days – it happens – take it. The temp firm will know that you are willing to work and you’ll be able to prove that you can be punctual and flexible. It’s very likely a longer lasting gig (if you want it) will follow any shorter gigs that you are initially assigned to. Flexibility – sort of. Yes, every employment “expert” loves to tout how temp firms offer scheduling flexibility to their workers. Actually, it depends. I’ve worked for firms that “penalized” me for leaving gigs to take unpaid time off (because, your time off is always unpaid). This has happened to me even after letting the temp firm, and its client company, know...

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