7 tips to building a powerful Oil & Gas resume

Consulting in the energy industry is a constant hustle. Hard shifts and long hitches leave little time to book the next job, meaning you spend your off hitch days finding new opportunities. You don't have time to waste on applying for work using a subpar resume. It’s vital that your resume communicates the most important information about your experience and certifications during even the most casual skimming – not to mention, you have to make sure your resume is just as easy for a computer to read as it is a recruiter.

The rise of the applicant tracking system.

It’s 2019, which means the first eyes on your resume might not be an actual set of eyes at all. According to JobScan, 98% of Fortune 500 companies employ an applicant tracking system (ATS) in their hiring process. This means that the bigger the service provider or operator is, the more likely they are using an ATS to filter through the hundreds of resumes they receive every day.

These systems scan resumes for keywords related to the position and provide a ranking to the recruiter. Resumes without enough keywords – or formatted in a way it can’t find the keywords – are either rejected outright, or ranked so low the HR professional won’t even open them.

Assuming you’ve gotten past the robotic gatekeeper and your resume is in front of an actual human – it needs to survive a 10 second scan, which means they need to see quickly that you not only have the experience and qualifications needed, but that you embody the other intangibles their company is looking for.

Writing a single resume for two different quick scans is a daunting task – which is why we’ve compiled this handy list of tips and tricks – but we didn’t stop there. We’ve also created a basic resume template that gives you the ability to plug in the right information, in the right format, for both a computer and an HR professional to digest. If you’d like to grab our template and get started, fill out the short form below and we’ll send it your way. If you’re here for the tips, they start just below the form.

resume

What a resume is… and what it isn’t.

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s hash out what your resume is – and what it isn’t.

First, a resume is not just a list of your past experience or a log of your education. It’s also not intended to get you a job. You read that right. A resume’s job is to get you a phone call or interview. Landing the job is up to you. Put simply, a resume is your primary way to advertise yourself and what makes you the right fit for a job. That’s why a great resume is well-thought out, expertly structured, and concise. No matter how long you’ve been in the field, your resume should not be longer than two pages.

When you start thinking of your resume as your principal marketing tool, it quickly becomes clear that you need to tailor the information to the specific types of roles you want. In some markets and industries that means creating a version of your resume for each specific job you apply for – luckily that’s not typically necessary in the energy industry. You can craft a 1-2 page resume that will work as long as you’re applying to the same types of positions.

Now that we’re all speaking the same language, let’s jump into our list so you can start building out that rockstar resume. We’ll start with some basic tips and then build to more advanced tips as we go.

Tip #1: Use a standard file format and formatting.

You know how some rules are more like guidelines and some are hard-and-fast rules? This is one of those hard-and-fast rules. Your resume should only ever be submitted in either PDF or Microsoft Word format – and ideally, built in Microsoft Word from the beginning.

I get it. You’re driven by data and logic. A spreadsheet perfectly encaptures the way your mind works. Or – for those on the other end of the spectrum – you’re a free spirit and something as boring as Word can’t capture the totality of how awesome you are. Or maybe you just don’t care about any of that and you want to use whatever free text editor or notes app came on your computer. There’s just one problem. The first “person” to read your resume is a computer, and ATS software is designed to parse PDFs and Microsoft Word documents better than any other format. You can upload a PDF exported from Excel or a screen capture from MS Paint, but the robot on the other end isn’t going to be able to read it.

Similarly, avoid fancy templates, graphics, borders, shading or other images as well as non-standard fonts. I know you want your resume to stick out to the person reading it, but it has to pass a computer first before you can even make it there. In order to make your resume stand out, you’ll need to make good use of different font sizes and bold or italic text – make sure your name, job titles, relevant keywords all quickly jump off the page.

Tip #2: Start with your name and contact info.

Sure, this could probably go without saying, but to be clear, we want both the robot and the HR professional to know specifically who they’re looking at. List your first and last name, email address, and the phone number you want them to use to contact you at the top of your resume. You can also list any relevant websites here as well – your RigUp profile, a LinkedIn profile, or a link to an OFS company you own/run would be applicable.

You don’t need to list any physical addresses or phone numbers you don’t want them using here – remember, this isn’t your complete life’s history, it’s the information an HR professional needs to contact you. That said, if you need to indicate that you live near a particular basin, you can include the city and state in your contact info.

It may be tempting to throw your contact info in the header section to leave more room in your resume. Don’t do that. Tracking systems are notoriously bad at reading headers in documents. Sometimes they don’t see them at all, sometimes they move them to a random spot in the document and, sometimes they see them as an unintelligible string of miscellaneous characters. Leave the header empty and start the main document with your contact information.

Pro-tip:

Another optional piece to include here is a resume headline to help the HR professional know who you are right away. The trick is to keep it believable and inline with your experience listed further down the page. Don’t put “10 Year C-suite Executive” because you have a one-man LLC, but be bold and list “10+ Year Drilling Professional with Team Lead Experience” to go after that first superintendent job.

Tip #3: Open with a strong summary of your career.

Computers need keywords and a scanning human needs data quickly. I know, I just keep banging this drum, but it’s true. You have to make your first impression fast. This section should be short, clear, and impactful. List the technology, systems, and tools you have experience with as well as any major career accomplishments and skills – all in one or two sentences.

For a good 1-2 punch, instead of giving this a heading that just says Summary, use your resume headline as your heading for your quick summary. Be sure to make good use of bold text to highlight keywords and important skills here.

Tip #4: List only your most relevant and recent experience.

Remember when I said your resume is an advertisement? This is where that starts to matter. List the experience that shows you are the best fit for the types of positions you are applying to so that they can quickly see you’re the right fit for this job.

Make sure you list complete information for each job, including any operators and OFS companies you’ve worked with (not the consulting firm you billed through), basins (or at least city/state), and the years you’ve been in each type of position. Under each position list 3-4 bullets describing your accomplishments and responsibilities.

Once you’ve listed your most relevant experience, you can use a couple of lines to quickly summarize any foundational experience – “X years roughnecking in the Permian plus X years drilling before moving into safety inspections”. Keep it short and focused. They assume you’ve worked your way up and just need to see confirmation.

Pro-tip:

Omit or remove the dates from any experience from more than 15 years ago. If you need to highlight the experience leave it, but the longer your career runs it can be helpful to draw attention away from your age.

Tip #5: List your certifications, skills, and education relevant to the position.

Next, you need to make sure you show the hiring team you have the necessary or preferred qualifications for their role. Use this space to list any certifications or education that directly impact the types of jobs you’re looking at. Don’t bother listing certifications that don’t apply – at best it will confuse the HR professional, at worst the robot may kick it back out. Definitely don’t include anything that is expired or out-of-date in any way.

Tip #6: Include your best references, only if you have to.

Current resume advice for most industries will actually tell you not to include references in your resume. In fact, you don’t even include “References available upon request,” because it’s assumed to be true. There are a few reasons why. First, you’re taking up space in your initial advertisement with something that typically isn’t required until the final stage of hiring. Second, on the off chance that a recruiter contacts your references you risk burning them out with too many calls.

However, in the energy industry, things tend to be a little more old-fashioned, and many job postings still require references to be submitted with your resume. So you definitely want to have a list of references ready to go as a third page of your resume document when necessary. Here are some quick tips on making sure your reference list is on point.

Keep deep reserves, but only share a few.

Anytime someone tells you they’re willing to be a reference for you, capture their information and add it to an ongoing list, so you’re never short on people willing to sing your praises. However, when you’re asked for references, provide at least three, but no more than five. A busy hiring manager or HR professional won’t call more than that, so there’s no point listing more.

Lead with your best references.

Depending on who you talk to, there’s two ways you can run this – you can lead with the most prominent position on your references list and move down to your peers, or you can start with your most vocal supporters and filter the list that way. Your best bet is to actually blend the two approaches. It does no good to list a VP at an E&P company that might barely remember you as your first contact, when the third slot goes to an completions super who’s known you for 25 years and calls you first when he needs the best. Remember, that HR pro is busy – don’t waste their time with a good title but a lukewarm recommendation.

Give the right information.

Make sure you list all the information the hiring manager needs for proper context. Obviously you’ll need the contact’s name, current title, company, email, and phone number, but you might also consider adding a quick blurb that tells where, when, and for how long you’ve worked with this reference – especially if any of that information is different from your reference's current info.

Don’t forget to contact the references you use.

It’s important to touch base with anyone who goes on this list from time-to-time to let them know you’re taking them up on their offer. Let them know to expect a call or two, while also giving them the context of what positions you’re looking for and what experience you’d like them to focus on once they get those calls.

Remember to show gratitude.

Once you’ve secured a new position, don’t forget to say a quick thank you to your references. It can be as casual or formal as you like – anything from a text message or a call to a hand-written card – whatever is appropriate for your relationship with the reference. There’s two main reasons for doing this. First, you’re acknowledging that they took time out of their schedule to help you out, and that’s just good manners. Second, it signals that your job search is (temporarily at least) on hold, and they don’t need to be on the lookout for further calls.

Tip #7: Polish, proofread, and have someone else read through it.

At this point, you’ve got all the right information, in the right order, on your resume. Now is the time to make sure it looks and reads like a professional document.

Use a single font.

Highlight the whole resume. Every word. Make sure the font drop-down isn’t blank. If it is, or if you’re just extra paranoid, click on it and select one basic, universal, and modern font. Arial will do. If you really have to be different, use Verdana or Tahoma. Avoid older looking fonts like Times New Roman. Your sizing and any bold or italic text should stay how you formatted it, but now you’ve made sure you’re using one font that every computer has on it.

Check the spacing between sections.

Hopefully you’ve left space between each section and each entry in those sections. White space (the places where there aren’t any words) will help someone read your resume quickly. But you need to make sure it’s consistent across the document so that it doesn’t look uneven.

Clean up your bullet points.

Anywhere you’ve used bullet points, make sure they’re consistent in their structure and punctuation. A good rule of thumb is to start every bullet with a verb (managed, executed, logged, etc.), keep it short, and end it with a period. It’s okay to use a different structure, as long as it’s consistent throughout the resume.

Leave your margins alone.

It’s tempting to make more room by shrinking these – don’t do it. Just use less words to showcase your experience and leave the margins on their default setting. If they’ve been changed for any reason, just reset them to 1” on each side.

Read for spelling, grammar, and sentence structure mistakes.

This is where it gets hard. Proofreading your own work can be exceedingly difficult because you already know what you’re trying to say. That said, take a break from your resume, come back, and read through it with the sole purpose of finding everything those red, green, and blue squiggly lines missed. It never hurts to get a second pair of eyes on it, but make sure you’ve got someone to look over it for the last step who hasn’t proofread it.

Get independent feedback.

This is it. Hand your resume to someone who hasn’t read it yet and ask them a few direct questions: Is it readable or easy to scan? Based on a quick scan, what do you read as my biggest strengths or experience? Does anything jump out as hard to read, inconsistent, or just plain weird? It can be hard for us to look past our own biases when it comes to something we just spent so much time and effort on, so it’s vital to get a gut reaction from someone who hasn’t looked it over - bonus points if they’re a working HR professional or hiring manager who happens to be a friend or family member. Make sure to use any useful feedback they give to refine and finalize your resume.

Export as a PDF and send it on its way.

Now that you’ve written, edited, and polished your perfectly formatted resume to beat any robo-gatekeeper and grab an HR professional’s attention, it’s time to start knocking on virtual doors and winning interviews. Make sure you save an editable version of your resume – you’ll have to update it soon enough with new job titles and experience – and then export a PDF to use with online job submissions.

Bonus Tip: Update your online profiles.

You just spent a good amount of time and energy putting together a winning document. There’s no sense in not maximizing that effort. Make sure you use this concise and focused language to update your LinkedIn and RigUp profiles. Connect with the people who’ve been gracious enough to be a reference and, in the case of RigUp, ask them to write you a referral for your profile. This will help you stand out to job posters on our platform and, when combined with your carefully-crafted content, will give them a complete picture of your capabilities.

If you don’t have a RigUp profile, now is a perfect time to join the largest digital job marketplace in the North American energy industry. Sign up, complete your profile, and start looking for new opportunities today. If you’re just here for help with your resume, we hope you found this article helpful – remember to fill out the form below and we’ll get our free resume template right over to you.

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