You Need a Story-Based Oil and Gas Resume If…

February 17, 2015 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

Oil PumpsWhether you consider yourself in the “oil and gas” or “petrochemical” industry, one thing is for sure: your career has been a wild ride.

How could it be otherwise, when you mix “cowboys,” whose daddies’ daddies were in oil, with MBAs and engineers in fields, plants, and boardrooms with billions of dollars, environmental safety, and human lives at stake?

But through it all, you’ve been steadfast. Whether you’ve made tough decisions under pressure, showed up each day and quietly done what was expected of you (which was near impossible), your contributions have added to the bottom line—not to mention building of trust with your employees, investors, and the communities that host your operations. How do you put all that on a resume?

Here are some of the situations I’ve seen oil and gas job seekers face, and why a traditional resume just won’t cut it for them:


As an oil and gas operations pro or executive, you may be without a degree, have studied something else in school, or have managed just fine with a bachelor’s where most of your colleagues have post-graduate studies under their belt.

Whether through fate or family, you started young in the industry and earned your stripes. But it’s a different world out there today. Many job postings you’re seeing are listing a degree as a requirement. You know that your School of Hard Knocks education will hold up against a diploma any day, but you don’t know how to express that to HR and recruiters.


Whether the ink on your degree is still drying, or you’ve been solving the problems of oil wells and refineries for decades, your resume looks pretty similar to your colleagues’. If you send out a resume like that, you’ll be as much of a commodity as a barrel of oil, and compared on the basis of years in the industry, degree, and skills. Yes, you’ll be in demand no matter what resume you use. There aren’t enough engineers to fill the open roles, after all.

But ask yourself these questions: Are you in demand for the job you really want? Are you in the strongest possible position to negotiate a great compensation package, having demonstrated your organizational and bottom-line contributions? Would you like your next career move to be a conscious choice based on your life goals and a long-view strategy for your career? A traditional resume won’t get you there.


Let’s face it, yours is a treacherous industry. Whether you’ve faced financial, environmental, or OSHA crises, chances are the buck has stopped with you more than once. How can you present yourself in the best light, conveying the leadership, guts, and gift for strategy you bring to the table?

Perhaps your P&L and risk management strategies have paid off. Maybe you’re already fielding offers. Are they the offers you want? How do they fit into your long-range career strategy?

Whether you’re overcoming bad luck or want to make the most of your successes to make a deliberate career move, a bulleted list of accomplishments won’t get the job done. A resume that tells your story will be the most compelling to recruiters and board members.


The petroleum industry is insular and networked. It may be that you’ve never needed a resume, that you’ve moved easily from one role to the next because you’ve always had a job offer waiting. If that’s your situation, you might not need a resume. I have worked with clients in this boat, though, who realized in retrospect that they should have made more deliberate choices. If what you’re being offered is not the thing that will make you jump out of bed in the morning or get you closer to your overall career goal, it may be time to create a resume, LinkedIn profile, and supporting documents that are in line with what you do want.


Yes, oil and gas is insular. Oil companies like to hire people with industry experience. But I’ve helped several clients break in. You just have to show how your career and life experience have positioned you perfectly to contribute to employers’ most important business goals. Even if they have the vision, hiring managers don’t have the time to connect the dots. Your resume must do it for them if you plan to get a seat at the interview.


There’s a saying that you can’t teach wisdom, but you can learn it. That’s because wisdom requires experience. Every parent or boss knows this.

But stories are the loophole to that rule. When our brains hear or read a story, it’s as if we’ve had the experience ourselves. So, while you can’t teach wisdom, you can impart it through the use of stories. You getting what you want out of your career demands nothing less than imparting the wisdom you have to offer. A simple chronology of your career events won’t do that.

If you’re in a career transition in oil and gas, you owe it to yourself to examine your communications. Are they conveying all you have to offer? Do they go beyond bullet points to provide the context that sets you apart from other candidates?

For hints on how to incorporate story into your resume, take a look at my samples or read my blog. Here are some tips specific to oil and gas resumes. And, of course, feel free to contact me if you find yourself needing a little more guidance.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Job Search Trends for 2015: Tell Your Story, Get Your Dream Job (Plus: 4 Questions to Help You Do It) Tell Stories, Get Hired Podcast

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