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Is Data Analytics the Solution for Successful Recruitment in the Oil & Gas Industry?

Posted by: Ruth McKinney

Oil and Gas companies increasingly rely on complex data to find earth’s energy resources and they have also turned to data analytics for prospective acquisitions, capital expenditures and many other elements within their business too. Yet, when it comes to recruitment and talent management, this industry has yet to fully adopt the analysis tools they use so effectively in other commercial areas.

It is a common statement that the global oil & gas industry are facing a dire shortage of talent as unprecedented numbers of retiring workers become more imminent and the skills and experience needed to replace them is very thin on the ground. So, at a time when technological innovation and globalisation are ushering in a new era of industry growth, the competition for talent can now be as significant as the focus to find those new energy resources mentioned above. As time is of the essence, fact-based, analytical models need to be adopted to face this ongoing issue that has gone largely unchecked for a number of years due to the economic downturn in 2008.

Daniel Ward of WRS, a specialist recruiter for the worldwide oil & gas sector, says that the industry does need to consider implementing strategies to understand and then engage with their potential future recruits in this talent scarce market. He says, “The dramatic changes in the quantities, locations and price volatility now present in the sector due to technological advances has created a significant challenge in matching resource with the world’s differing regional market demands. To combat this we are seeing some organisations that are starting to effectively use data analytics to help identify, recruit, retain and develop skilled talent. By utilising data available in-house, combined with external statistics and information related to talent trends, these companies are positioning themselves to effectively recruit, even within the skills scarce environment the industry will continue to be in for some time to come yet.

The challenge is tough enough for companies with balanced portfolios of natural gas and oil assets as they can more readily realign skills from one side of their business to the other as market conditions dictate. However, the challenge is even more pronounced for companies with a heavy tilt toward either oil or gas, as changing markets may force them to react quickly to recruit within one area, while needing to rationalise their workforce in others.

In addition, workers are increasingly mobile and technology is continuously changing both the type of work required as well as where it can be done. These key factors are not helping in the current global war for talent as they are increasing the competition for skills beyond local and even national talent pools. In the past, annual estimates of a company’s workforce requirements proved sufficient, but that has all changed as the need for certain skills can and does frequently change dramatically over the course of a year. The degree to which organisations anticipate these changes is the difference between being ready to support the company’s growth or inhibit it due to a lack of available skills.

By embracing big data and analytics the oil & gas sector could definitely benefit from this more strategic approach, especially given the dynamic nature of market forces within the industry and their potentially costly impact on resources. So it does seem that extending this capability to workforce management makes perfect business and financial sense. For example, from an HR and recruitment perspective, the additional data analysis could cover information as diverse as market conditions, employment shifts, employment trends and the engagement of talent with transferrable skills. The analytics would need to account for variables such as regulatory changes, regional and global economic outlooks as well as mid to long term talent shortages.

This very real need for more meaningful and insightful information is shifting the focus from reactive analysis to much more predictive data analytics, meaning that organisations are making the transition from ‘knee-jerk’ recruitment activity to more proactive and strategic campaigns. These campaigns will allow for the following:

  • Workforce planning: This will ensure that companies can prepare for acute market-driven changes that dramatically alter their workforce needs.
  • Talent acquisition and movement: This allows an in-depth understanding of the impact of the high volume of pending retirements and adopting data-driven approaches for developing the next generation of talent.
  • Engagement and Retention: This focuses on measuring and managing attrition issues and place increased focus on not only recruiting the scarce talent but having strategies in place to retain them.


New analytics technology is proving to be the catalyst that will transform recruitment in years to come, making it more integral to business goals and strategy than ever before. Global workforces are already generating a massive amount of data, which allows a huge insight into both employees and job seekers alike. Recent media states that “….analytic tools will be able to strengthen the link between “people metrics” and business metrics, empowering businesses to definitively demonstrate a correlation between a specific skill set and retention. This focus on human behaviour as an indicator will become vital to HR. Moreover, in the next 10 to 15 years there will be a full spectrum of HR analytics available that will enable organisations to examine how human behaviour affects business outcomes. These will include basic business metrics, predictive analytics, cognitive analytics, social analytics and workforce science.”

Daniel summarises, “Leveraging data analytics for talent management, retention, recruitment and employee engagement really is the way forward. With the continued global talent shortages across a myriad of oil & gas disciplines, embracing this can only be a hugely positive cultural shift for the industry.”

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