Estevan - Greg Cousins of Site Energy looked over my resumé as part of our series of stories on looking for work in the oilpatch right now.
Among its many capabilities, pipeline construction is one of Site’s core competencies, and that falls right within the type of work this job search is focusing on. Since Site has an operations based just outside of Estevan at Macoun, it would be an obvious company to apply for work. But would someone with my skills as a former excavator operator be someone they need?
Site Energy, like many dirt moving companies, typically has a spring layoff to coincide with spring breakup.
“The third week in March is always a slowdown,” Cousins said.
How much of an impact spring breakup has on their business varies year-to-year. During spring breakup, hiring new staff usually isn’t on the agenda.
“We’ve had virtually no roadban to (as long as) a couple months,” he said. There have been continual challenges with wet conditions since the major flood year of 2011. Last year was also a flood year for the extreme eastern edge of the province as well as southwest Manitoba.
When it comes to wet weather, he noted there is always an element of optimism, saying, “It’s gonna quit raining tomorrow.”
“This is different,” he said, noting “I’ve been around long enough to see a few of these. I try to forget them.
“When it slows down on a correction, it does so in a hurry. That’s where we are right now.”
Thus the length of the roadban shutdown may coincide more with global economic factors than how soft the grid roads are.
As for when things will turn around, he said, “How do you know?”
With regards to my resumé, he said, “As far as handing out resumés, I wouldn’t be holding my breath.”
“A lot of people under 30 have never seen a crash, seen how life really is. It’s a time to look at if this is what you want to do. This is a time everyone should consider education and upgrading themselves.”
“Someone whose only worked in the oilfield, with limited education, if they have a job opportunity, they better take it. If it’s in an unrelated field, you might want to consider it,” Cousins said.
That may include taking a job that pays less. He stated diplomatically, “If you’re not in a resource-based job, your pay scale will be different, and with limited or no overtime.”
While Ray Frehlick of Prairie Mud suggested looking for work on the extensive Highway infrastructure projects planned for the Regina bypass, Cousins noted that there aren’t any similar projects expected in this region with respect to the oilpatch. The Regina bypass was also decades in the planning. Oilpatch projects, on the other hand, come and go quite quickly in comparison.
The 2008-2009 slowdown didn’t hit this area as much as it did other places, with the Bakken being the hot play in the country at the time. With the upswing seen in southeast Saskatchewan, there’s been a shift in the workforce, Cousins noted.
“For years and years, guys on rigs had other jobs and supplemented them with drilling. Recently it was a career. It might not be next year.
“It’s not a negative thing. It’s a reality. When you have a career in this business, it just happens. We’re pretty fortunate when you look at the careers we had in southeast Saskatchewan.”
With respect to this resumé, in particular, Cousins called it, “One out of 100.”
“It’s got more than one page,” he said.
Some people feel resumés should be very short – no more than one page. Cousins said, “It depends on your audience and what you are subscribing to.”
In this case, the lengthy five page resumé “answered a lot of questions in an interview.”
What about the fact it’s been 12 years since I’ve been on an excavator? Cousins wasn’t concerned, saying, “It’s been 12 years since I’ve been on an excavator too, but I can do it tomorrow. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
He added, “I’m a fan of mature workers and their life skills. You realize the importance of showing up to work and giving it all you’ve got.”
Cousins said he’s not dismissive of younger workers, and believes in giving them a chance.
The days of an “Estevan job interview” where, for many companies, a pulse was about as much as a manager could ask for, are over.
“Now there might be a real interview,” Cousins said, as employers will have more choices when hiring.
He noted, “Good people always get work. If there’s only work for half the people, which half is going to get the work?”
So, is there equipment operator work available right now? The answer is “No,” at least not at this time of year.
A year ago, when the price of oil was high, things would have been different.
“It would be, ‘When can you start?’ But now we’ll take it under advisement,” Cousins said.