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Searching for work via online job boards

Part of our NOW WHAT!?! series of stories on looking for work
Online job boards
Searching online job boards turned up precious little for either excavator operator or journalist positions.

Estevan – I walked into a Service Canada the other day, looking for work. The last time I did such a thing, I believe the government department was called Human Resources Development Canada. This has since become “Service Canada.”

My first question was, “Where are the job boards?” There are none.

As a younger man, one would go to local HRDC office (or whatever it was called before then) and look up index cards pinned to boards with local job postings. It had been this way since my teenage years. Instead, there were several computer terminals. If you can do an online job search at a Service Canada office, you can do it at home.

Thus, I would look for work along two career paths: excavator operator and, barring that, journalism. I used be a pipeliner and excavator operator, so that’s the first choice, and also the better paying one.
First off: the federal job search, conducted at the Job Bank ( Searching for “excavator operator,” there were 3,878 jobs nationwide. That’s a promising start. Narrowing that to Saskatchewan, there were 199 jobs posted.

One thing became clear: most job postings for excavator operators were actually for heavy equipment operators working for local rural municipalities.

Clicking on “full job postings” referred you to, which begged the question, why not go to in the first place?

The end result is there were precious few jobs posted in Saskatchewan that were explicitly for excavator operators, and the only ones posted in southeast Saskatchewan were for local rural municipalities. Nothing came up in the oilfield.

Perhaps “excavator” is too specific. The next attempt was at “backhoe operator.” This also returned similar numbers, and the same jobs. So maybe another angle was needed. I eliminated “operator.”
That did it. Two jobs were posted in Saskatchewan, but for labourers and truck drivers. The company name included “backhoe,” which is why it turned up.

Going back to just “excavator” and “Saskatchewan,” I came up with five postings. Three were in Saskatoon, one in Lanigan and one in Rocanville. These were both “slurry trench extended stick excavator specialist.” Nothing was posted in southeast Saskatchewan.

Changing tactics, I tried searching for my other career path, journalism. Searching for “journalist in Saskatchewan” I came up blank, but there were five postings across Canada. The closest was in Vermillion, Alta. A search for “reporter,” came up with numerous jobs that had nothing to do with journalism. There was only one posting for “photographer” on the prairies, and it was the same job listed in Vermillion. “Editor” turned up only two jobs on the prairies, one in Moose Jaw, another in Regina.

Some fields have specialized job sites. In Canadian journalism, is one. A search for print media jobs in Saskatchewan turned up only one posting, the same one listed in Moose Jaw on the Job Bank. The only other print media job anywhere close was for a multimedia sports reporter in Brandon.

Time to go where I likely should have started in the first place:

During the height of the recent boom in southeast Saskatchewan, Estevan would have as many as 1,100 or even 1,200 jobs posted.
However, things are different now. On March 10 there were only 447. Province-wide there are 10,390. In August 2013 it was 17,097 across Saskatchewan.

A search on for “excavator” turned up 41 jobs available, with some postings having multiple slots. However, only one was in Estevan, where I live, and it wasn’t as an excavator operator, but rather as a heavy equipment mechanic to work on excavators, among other equipment. The only other job in the region was that same slurry specialist posting seen above.

“Backhoe” didn’t fare much better. One posting, which I saw on the job bank, was for a powerline contractor based in White City. Another was for a company in Meota I had actually done a short-term project for many years ago. One more posting came up for a contractor with 20 heavy equipment jobs for this spring in and around Regina. However, the pay wasn’t much better that what I earned in the same position 13 years ago, and the cost of living has gone up quite a bit since then. had zero jobs for “journalist,” “reporter,” or “photographer.” “Editor” came up with five postings, but four were not applicable, i.e. one of those was for designing tombstones. The Moose Jaw editor posting came up again.

Perhaps a keyword search is the wrong tactic. Instead I looked up all the jobs posted for Estevan and area on Zip. Nothing came up in either of my specialties.

What was also quite noticeable was the absence of almost any oilfield-related work among all the 447 jobs posted. Only 23 positions could be directly attributed to the oilfield for all of Estevan and area.

Those postings included class 1A driver, experienced oilfield lease operators, third and fourth year apprentice instrument technician, warehouse supervisor, oilfield truck driver, heavy truck mechanic, heavy duty mechanic, tank truck driver, journeyman instrumentation technician, field instrument technologist, pressure welder, journeyman electrician, measurement technician, land services assistant, administrative assistant, picker operator, boiler truck operator and integrity engineer.

It was time to go further afield. turned up nothing for “excavator” and one Fort McMurray posting for a mine heavy equipment operator for “backhoe.” showed similar results for both career paths.

The radio is inundated with advertisements for “” and “” Searching for “excavator” brought up two mechanic jobs in Estevan, and zero for “backhoe.”
What became clear through my online job search is that yes, there are jobs out there, but not for either the excavator operator or journalist career paths I was looking for. Either there are not jobs in either of these fields available locally, regionally, or even provincially, or I am not searching for them in the right manner.

If a person were to end their job search at that, one might conclude there were no jobs to be had in my two chosen fields of which I have extensive experience – excavator operator or journalist. That’s quite different from the line I heard on John Gormley Live this morning, talking about the lowest unemployment rate in the country. There may be jobs available, but not in my fields.
It’s time to hit the road and knock on doors.

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