Boomtown Recruiting Methods

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By Dori Meinert Jun 1, 2013
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When thousands of people are coming to North Dakota each year for oil boom jobs, you might think HR professionals in the state have it made. They can sit back and wait for the job applicants to come to them.

That’s not always the case.

Oil and gas companies, as well as other employers competing for workers in Williston, N.D., use a variety of methods to find and attract workers. They include:

  • Advertising online, in newspapers, on outdoor signs and billboards, and on radio and television stations.
  • Offering housing or relocation packages.
  • Soliciting employee referrals.
  • Attending local job fairs.
  • Working with temporary agencies and contractors.
  • Contracting with executive search firms.
  • Recruiting from colleges and internship programs.

“To find entry-level people isn’t too difficult,” says Timothy Kastle, senior HR representative for Whiting Petroleum Corp., based in Denver. “It’s when you start looking for experienced people, like an operation supervisor, that’s when it becomes a little more difficult.”

Whiting had nine employees in North Dakota six years ago. Now, it has 250.

One pumper position, an entry-level job posted recently by Whiting received 1,658 applications, he says. But a position for a senior frack supervisor, which requires certain technical expertise, brought only 20 applicants.

As oil companies attempt to fill specialized positions, price wars frequently erupt as recruiters battle to attract experienced employees, Kastle says. Relocation packages or housing may make the difference in attracting workers from other regions.

Enbridge Pipelines has developed an employee referral program that pays $500 to $2,500 in bonuses depending on the position, says Monica Peterson, HR generalist with the company.

To build a pipeline of qualified workers, Oklahoma-based Continental Resources has expanded the number of its summer internships from 13 to 32. Most are based in Oklahoma, but five will spend at least part of the summer in North Dakota to gain valuable field experience, says Ray Gonzales, vice president of HR.

Dori Meinert is a senior writer for HR Magazine.

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