Choosing effective workforce solutions for oil and gas

March 8, 2019

Source: Art Wager/iStock

HR - the backbone of your workforce planning

The HR department can be one of the most hectic in any company. It’s the front line when it comes to workforce solutions – a lot of HR departments handle payroll, organise training sessions for their employees, deal with any issues that workers may have on a personal level and much more.

A key task that falls on most HR departments, too, is recruitment. HR directors and their staff are responsible for ensuring the company has both staff at hand in the short term and a pipeline of talent for the future, so everything from finding candidates to conducting due diligence and compliance checks fall within their remit.

That’s a lot of pressure in any industry, but HR departments in oil and gas in particular have their work cut out when it comes to recruitment. With multiple projects running around the globe at any given time, oil and gas companies constantly need to find and mobilise top engineering talent – often on a short-term basis and with quick turnaround required.
With this in mind, one obvious solution is to outsource some or all of this work to a specialist oil and gas recruitment company.

In the oil and gas industry as elsewhere, many HR professionals have a strained relationship with third-party recruiters. Much as outsourced workforce solutions can help ease the burden on HR, there’s a common perception among HR departments that recruiters are expensive, time-consuming to work with, and more focused on volume – that is, getting as many candidates to interview as possible – than finding the right candidate with the right skills and culture fit for the job.

Nonetheless, the current climate in the oil and gas industry means that working with third-party recruiters is becoming an absolute necessity. As demand outstrips supply and oil and gas companies face a complex global geopolitical climate, working with recruiters to solve their staffing challenges is no longer optional – it’s the only way for HR to build a recruitment strategy that rises to these challenges in a resource-effective way.

By all accounts, the oil and gas industry faces a major skills gap in 2019 onwards. In fact, according to the Global Energy Index Talent (GETI) report for 2019, an astonishing 40% of workers in the industry believe that a talent crisis is already here.

Nearly half, meanwhile, say they are “quite” or “very” worried about a talent crisis, with 28% adding they expect this to take hold within the next five years. This puts busy HR directors between a rock and a hard place – how do they build a pipeline of engineering talent while still managing current candidate suitability and quality?

Download The 2019 Global Energy Talent Index
Visit the GETI site to download the report

Why work with a specialist oil and gas recruitment company? 

However, much as many HR departments have a low view of the recruitment industry as a whole – and much as that view may, in some cases, be justified – it’s still true that working with the right recruitment company is one of the best ways they can address their short and long-term staffing challenges. 

For oil and gas companies, having a strategic recruitment partner offers many benefits. The right recruiter will understand the unique challenges not only facing the industry, but also the specific project. They will have the kind of skills and expertise that HR wants to see the most, which allows HR to do the following:

1. Reduce time and resource spend

Partnering with a specialist oil and gas recruiter can save HR directors time and lower their resource spend on recruitment. They won’t have to use department resources to sign up to job boards, purchase subscriptions and licences for software, and more. Their recruitment partner will already have these tools in place so they can start providing workforce solutions right away.

2. Get better market intelligence 

This holds true for other essential recruitment resources, such as market intelligence, too. It’s impossible to make informed recruitment decisions without some level of insight into market dynamics, average salaries, skills availability and so on, and not all this information is in the public domain. A strategic recruitment partner will have this intelligence and more at hand, helping to build effective and accessible talent pipelines for your company.

3. Ensure compliance with local labour laws 

One of the key staffing challenges for oil and gas companies is to ensure that any recruitment decisions they make are compliant with local labour laws and other regulatory requirements in the different territories their projects take place. Failing this could result in fines and penalties, as well as potential reputation damage that could harm their ability to hire in a particular location for a long time to come. 

Working with a specialist recruitment company with previous experience in a particular country or territory – and potentially a local presence, too – is therefore one of the best and most resource-effective ways to ensure any hiring decisions are fully compliant.

4. Build employer brand in new territories 

In a similar way, a specialist oil and gas recruiter that’s well-established in a specific region can help HR departments build an employer brand where one may not currently exist. A bespoke marketing plan can generate awareness and attract local and expat talent to available positions in that territory.

What workforce solutions can a specialist recruiter offer? 

So, what workforce solutions can a specialist oil and gas recruiter offer to a company? Some of the most common solutions include:

Direct hire 

Direct hire describes the use of a recruitment partner to fill permanent, rather than contract or temporary, roles. Recruiters have different processes when it comes to direct hire, as well as varying fee structures. 

For the best quality talent, we recommend the engaged search model. Engaged search differs from traditional contingent search in that customers will pay a small percentage of the overall fee upfront, which secures them a dedicated discipline- specific recruitment team that has the resource to immerse itself in the company culture and find the best available talent rather than flood HR with candidates that may or may not be suitable. 

Contract hire 

The project-based nature of much of the work undertaken in the oil and gas industry means many companies rely heavily on contractors rather than permanent members of staff. A specialist oil and gas recruiter should have a well-established network and pre-existing relationships with contract personnel, which makes the process of getting them into roles as smooth as possible. 

Global mobility 

One of the challenges that comes with working on multiple projects around the world is that you don’t just have to recruit local and expat labour – you also need to mobilise them. A specialist oil and gas recruiter should be able to support HR with outsourced immigration and relocation services for both contract and permanent talent. 


A specialist oil and gas recruiter can be an essential source of labour market intelligence, with first-hand access to salary data, insight on skills availability and other important talent analytics. For some HR departments, it may be worth appointing a recruitment company on a consultancy basis, resulting in improved decision-making for workforce planning and sourcing.

Managed services

Finally, some recruitment companies also offer a full managed service to help HR departments simplify and streamline the management of their contingent workforce. This results in reduced costs, enhanced productivity, and lower compliance risks. Additionally, companies can more easily scale up or down as and when hiring volumes fluctuate.


What to look for in a specialist oil and gas recruiter

Let’s say you’re a HR director and have decided you want to outsource some or all of your workforce management. You’ve decided which services you need and have a shortlist of recruitment companies that can help. How do you know which is the best option for you?

Here are some examples of the top questions we think you should ask before you commit to a workforce solutions provider.

  • We’re looking to start a project in a new region. Do you have access to local talent pools in that specific country? If not, how would you find the right people with the necessary skills to staff my project as efficiently as possible?
  • We’re looking for a recruitment partner to not only find the best talent, but also mobilise them so they can come on board with the minimum amount of fuss. Can you help us do that, and how do you manage relationships with partners to help you deliver this service?
  • We currently have several large oil and gas projects running in various locations around the world. We’d like some help navigating local and international labour and employment laws to keep these projects running as smoothly as possible. Can you help us with this, and what are your techniques for providing the best in regional end-to-end workforce solutions?
  • There’s a possibility that the retirement of older oil and gas workers will hit us hard in the near future, and we’d like your help to navigate it. We’d love to secure the very best in young up-and-coming technical talent that want to work with us; how do you go about finding that talent? How thorough is your process for ensuring they’re the right fit for our company?

How Airswift can help

We can answer all those questions and more with confidence at Airswift.

Our experience and success rates truly set us apart from other recruiters providing workforce solutions in the oil and gas industry. We’re not a “bottom of the barrel” recruiter – we have a 93% fill rate on all roles because our team prides itself on service and delivery, helping you to navigate any staffing issues as seamlessly and effectively as possible.

Our specialist recruitment professionals are experts at easing the pressure on HR directors in the oil and gas industry, and we have a truly international presence with access to the best engineering talent worldwide. We also have a proven track record in helping companies gain footholds in new and emerging markets.

Our workforce solutions, industry insight and leading market intelligence help oil and gas companies navigate the legal, political and cultural nuances of any new regions they may be entering, helping you be compliant while recruiting the very best in regional talent.

Download The 2019 Global Energy Talent Index.Visit the GETI site to download the report


This post was written by: Airswift