Some fundamental strategies for getting where you want to be in the Queensland gas industry, by Angela Bradby of Link Resources.
While it has been a year of turbulence for the resources sector there is no disputing the fact that global demand for gas is increasing. Big nations such as India and China are driving the demand for gas, which is a great thing for Australia.
We are well-positioned to supply to the global market with our abundant natural gas deposits and continued advancement in the unconventional gas extraction industry.
In Queensland, gas is so abundant that we supply all our own gas, a large portion of the New South Wales and Victorian demand and export through three large LNG production businesses (GLNG, APLNG, QCLNG) to the global market.
The past five years has seen a lot of investment in this sector, which created many jobs. Now that the Queensland LNG sector has moved away from that initial construction phase into an operational phase, gaining employment in the industry is challenging.
However, in Australia, serious efforts are being made to develop our plentiful shale gas deposits. A recent report from Geoffrey Cann also succinctly highlighted another significant opportunity for the Queensland gas industry, explaining that it has been recognised that if Queensland is to access basins with other Natural Gas Liquids such as butane, ethane and propane, it will greatly increase the value of the Queensland gas industry, which currently is consisting exclusively of methane.
The report goes on to further explain that to process these Natural Gas Liquids, also known as Wet Gasses, more infrastructure will be required, leading to a catalyst for more investment in our processing capability.
Obviously, the current gas prices and the cost of operations/production provide significant challenges for operators and contractors. However, with challenges comes opportunity. It is no secret that Australia is recognised in the natural gas industry as one of the higher-cost countries.
Our labour costs, regulatory burdens and social licence to operate concerns have made it very challenging to compete globally.
However, given the fact there is now ample labour available, peak bodies are working with government to reduce the red tape and we have largely learned to work with other land users.
The long-term future is bright for Queensland’s gas industry and now is the time to start devising and implementing a strategy to gaining employment within this sector.
HOW DO GREEN HANDS GET A START IN THE QUEENSLAND GAS INDUSTRY?
Some gas companies and contractors employ green hands in junior roles and this is likely to continue in the future as companies implement innovative strategies to become more competitive – strategies that include seeking new talent and reducing labour costs.
To best position yourself for a start with a gas company or contractor there are some things you can proactively do to stand out from the large number of candidates you are up against.
Have you ever heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it is who you know?”. This rings true in many cases. The more people you connect and build relationships with, the more you will find out about the industry and more opportunities will present themselves to you. Reach out to your existing network, talk with friends, neighbours, instructors/ trainers, use social media sites, join trade or professional organisations, attend industry functions/events and use social media to tell people what you are seeking. Many positions aren’t widely posted or advertised, so having connections to the industry will ensure you are aware of those available.
Ensure your resume is well-written and professionally presented. There are a number of companies that provide resume writing services for a reasonable fee. Your resume should be thorough but succinct and focus on the qualifications, experience and transferable skills you have relating to the role you are seeking employment in. Your resume is often your only contact with the employer when they are deciding whom they will shortlist and/or interview, it is critical that your resume stands out.
“Now that the Queensland LNG sector has moved away from that initial construction phase into an operational phase, gaining employment in the industry is challenging.”
“The long-term future is bright for Queensland’s Gas Industry and now is the time to start devising and implementing a strategy to gaining employment within this sector.”
If at all possible provide references that are known to the company you are seeking employment with or well-connected in the gas industry. Ensure your references know what positions you are applying for so they can give the most relevant reference when they are contacted. References can make all the difference when applying for a role, particularly in a sector you have not previously been employed in. A strong recommendation from someone well-connected in the gas industry will be a big advantage in gaining employment in this industry.
Determine which inductions, technical courses and safety courses are essential or even advantageous in the positions you wish to apply for. Research the courses and invest in gaining some of the competencies required through reputable providers. Use your attendance at these courses to further network and make connections with people in the industry or companies servicing the industry.
When you get to the interview stage of the recruitment process it is critical that you interview well. Use the interview as an opportunity to draw parallels to your previous experience and how it is transferable to the role you are applying for. Many employers seek personnel with strong problem-solving skills, a good work ethic and the ability to work in less than ideal conditions. Giving examples to your interview panel of how you have demonstrated these skills in previous roles will certainly highlight these attributes at an interview.
HOW DO YOU SUCCEED ONCE YOU ARE EMPLOYED IN THE QUEENSLAND GAS INDUSTRY?
Once you have gained employment in the gas industry the focus will move to progressing through the ranks and “moving up”. This industry provides a very successful career for many Australians. Career prospects in the industry are varied, with many opportunities in technical areas for those whom are dedicated to personal development and committing to the industry for the long-term.
Obviously there is no substitute for hard work and exceeding performance expectations. Ensure you meet all your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and don’t be afraid to put your hand up for more projects and/or responsibilities if you are managing your workload and have some remaining time. Consistent high performance is the key to moving up in your career within this sector.
BE A TEAM PLAYER
Understand that everyone on site is working long hours and has often spent significant time away from their families and loved ones. At times, emotions can run high. Embrace the common goal of getting the job done and be flexible in your approach when dealing with others.
MAKE YOUR INTENTIONS KNOWN
Performance appraisals are a great opportunity to discuss your career goals and aspirations with your manager. Having the support and guidance of your manager will ensure that if an opportunity for advancement comes up, the decision-makers know you are keen. If you are a valued employee with potential, a good manager will take the time to advise and mentor you to further increase the likelihood of your promotion/advancement within the organisation and/or industry.
MANAGE YOUR HOME LIFE
The pressure of working rosters and being away from home for extended periods can take its toll on families and relationships. It is important that the whole family is on board with your career in the gas industry, particularly your partner, who is constantly transitioning from solo parenting to co-parenting. Some tips to ensure the FIFO lifestyle is sustainable includes providing your family with as much information about your role as possible – rosters, emergency contacts, times you will be available to speak on the phone/Skype. Ensure your time at home is used to reconnect with your family and friends whilst still getting adequate rest. Having a supportive partner, family and friends will make you a happy, productive employee, which means your likelihood of advancing within the sector is high.
MANAGE YOUR HEALTH & LIFESTYLE
Long working days can make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Enquire about local or camp gym facilities and make a conscious effort to eat regular nutritious meals. Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and get adequate sleep/rest. Staying in optimum health will ensure you are performing at your peak.
CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION
University and technical course graduates in professional and technical positions usually earn the most in the gas industry. Investing in your education is one of the best ways to ensure a long successful career in this sector. A Bachelor of Science or Engineering or a more specific graduate degree opens the door to even higher-level positions. Engineering talent continues to be in high demand and is very well-compensated in the gas industry, while a degree in Petroleum, Chemical Engineering, Geology or Geophysics would pay off in the long run.
Safety is absolutely paramount to all roles in the gas sector. Displaying a good attitude towards safety and having a high level of knowledge about safety in the gas industry will be imperative to your career advancement. A genuine commitment to safety will be most advantageous in advancing along your chosen career path.
The gas industry provides a lucrative and rewarding career for many thousands of Australians and opens up endless opportunities to work all over the world. While it is challenging to secure a position in the industry at the moment, it is a great time to start building your network and formulating a plan of those companies you would like to approach for employment.
You may receive knockbacks, but being professionally persistent and taking onboard the advice and information will hold you in good stead for a position within the industry in the future.
For those already in the industry who wish to advance within the sector, now is the time to start selling yourself whilst devising and implementing a clear strategy to get from your current position to where you want to be. Great leaders at all levels standout during challenging times.
Angela Bradby founded Link Resources in 2013 after identifying a need in the market for an end-to-end human resources service business that actually understands and can meet the demands of the resources sector and heavy industry. As Managing Director of Link Resources, Angela manages the business while focusing primarily on strategic growth in partnership with our key clients.
She has over 13 years experience in the industry with more than 10 years of that being within the oil and gas Industry and is well known for her integrity, innovation and efficiency in delivering high value outcomes to clients.
Prior to founding Link Resources, Angela was a director of Baseline Training & Consulting; the key privately owned Registered Training Organisation in the Australian Onshore Oil & Gas Industry.