What are big oil and gas companies looking for?

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James Edwards, TransCanada Corp.’s manager of corporate talent strategy

By Baisakhi Roy

Named one of Canada’s Best Employers for New Canadians in 2013, energy infrastructure company TransCanada Corp. has hired more than 400 people in Canada this year. Focusing on natural gas and oil pipelines, as well as power generation, the Calgary-based company is looking forward to recruiting new talent spread across a large number of roles and functions. Canadian Immigrant spoke to James Edwards, TransCanada Corp.’s manager of corporate talent strategy, about the top occupations in the energy sector and what they look for in prospective employees.
What are some of the job prospects in this industry today?

The top occupations are engineers, business analysts, supply chain management professionals, electrical instrumentation technicians, project managers and project services staff, technologists and construction managers. The energy infrastructure industry continues to offer lots of opportunities and [TransCanada Corp.] may need to hire another 100-200 staff across Canada by the end of the year.

What do you look for when hiring?

We obviously look for candidates who have the technical skills and experience to match each individual requirement. In addition, not only do we want them to be able to do their job well, but also to fit in with our culture.

It is important that employees are aligned to our corporate values of “Responsibility, Integrity, Innovation and Collaboration” and can live these on a day-to-day basis. It is very much part of what defines TransCanada as an organization and these values are embedded in our organizational DNA.

Previous work experience is also very important; it doesn’t have to be directly relatable, but it should be transferable to the role we are looking to fill.

Lastly, having a great attitude is a big factor for us and something that candidates should take time to convey during the interview process.

What qualifications do internationally trained professionals need to have to be considered for a job?

Obviously, candidates must have legal status to work in Canada and must have the specific relevant qualifications. We strongly encourage all immigrants to verify their credentials, but to still apply if this is in a “pending” status. In certain situations, we may even help financially in situations where this can be costly. We also use Alberta’s International Qualifications Assessment Service system to verify all overseas educational and professional qualifications, so it is important that applicants only reference qualifications on their resumé that can be verified.

What are some tips you would give to a new immigrant looking for employment in the oil and gas sector?
Certainly, getting to know and understand the oil and gas business is important as it drives so much of our local and national economy. Building a strong professional network is also incredibly important and using social media is certainly a good way of doing this.

There are also professional and industry associations as well as those offering specific services to immigrants. TransCanada is an employer partner with the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC) and has been actively involved with its mentoring program over the last few years. As an organization, we have hired two permanent staff through this association, so it is good for immigrants to use all of the resources available to them.

Finally, we strongly encourage immigrants to apply for roles that match their previous work experience and not to sell themselves short. TransCanada, much like most organizations, has a strong commitment to employment equity and has goals for hiring people from visible minorities at all levels. Immigrants should resist the temptation to jump at the first thing that is offered as this may lead to frustration and a lack of challenge down the road.

Is it true that oil and gas jobs are most concentrated in the Prairie provinces?
Clearly, Alberta and Saskatchewan have the bulk of the oil and gas jobs across Canada, but as the skills shortage continues to take effect, many of the big organizations are now offering “fly in‒fly out” work arrangements where people living out of province are transported to jobs on the Alberta oil sands. More and more, oil and gas jobs are now open to people all across Canada. But Calgary is the hub for company headquarters with most of the field-based positions being based in Fort McMurray and other parts of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan

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