Interested in taking part in a workshop and building a competency profile?

• Sign up for one of our competency workshops in Calgary here – see calendar for Build Your Competency Profile to Optimize Your Career Search and Job Opportunities events 
UPDATE: Thank you Calgary for your interest in our work. Our workshops are currently full. We will add spaces if they become available.

Upcoming workshops:

Tuesday, May 8: 2 pm (UPDATE: Workshop full)

Thursday, May 10, 9:30 am (UPDATE: Workshop full)

Tuesday, May 15, 9:30 am (UPDATE: Workshop full)

NEW: Friday, May 18, 10 am – webinar

• For more information, shoot Sarah Pittman an email 

Losing a job in an economic downturn can be frightening.

The job search that follows might feel equally as bleak.

This is the scenario that thousands of unemployed and underemployed oil and gas workers face following a prolonged downturn in the economy, as they send out resume after resume to hunt down a new job. Employers and job seekers alike often think that people can only do the very specific jobs that they were trained for. For oil and gas workers, this is a problem – the industry isn’t showing signs of bouncing back. But people have many skills that apply to all kinds of jobs – called transferable competencies – and we know that unemployed oil and gas workers can work in other fields. We’re trying to prove that.

We believe that there is a better way of matching people with jobs, that is based on what people can actually do – and we’re putting the concept to the test. We’re looking for jobseekers who are interested in learning more and participating in this new approach.

Going beyond a skill-listing resume

The Canada West Foundation and its partners are conducting a research project on a new (to Canada) way of matching people and jobs. Rather than a typical cover letter and resume, we think a much better way is to match the actual skills that employers need with people who have those skills. So, instead of telling a potential employer what credentials you have, you tell them what you can actually do.

One of the best things about this approach is that it is far more direct. Resumes and traditional job postings are notorious for being full of cryptic language. There are many articles online that give advice on how to read job postings; sometimes, people are successful simply because they are able to interpret a job description and write an enticing resume. However, they may not succeed in the long run because they do not actually have the skills needed for the job.

We’re testing this approach out with Global Talent Utility, a company that aims to connect jobseekers, employers and training organizations on a single platform that is designed to improve the entire hiring process.

Workshops build a profile of transferable skills

For the last few months, ReSource YYC has hosted workshops, primarily with jobseekers who have been laid off from the oil and gas sector. The entire focus is on what people can do. Participants build an extensive profile that covers a host of knowledge, skills, abilities and preferences. For example, one participant indicated amongst other competencies in her profile, her strong ability to negotiate, to manage financial resources, and to be a mentor. Her most recent job title? Risk Manager. While I would have been able to assume she had some of those skills, based on her job title, others I wouldn’t have guessed at. People are far more than their last job title, and it is through this competency-based approach that employers will be able to see the whole person that they are hiring.

One of the biggest benefits of the workshops for the participants is the opportunity for them to tease out the entirety of their skillset. This makes it easier to see the competencies that they could transfer to other sectors and jobs they wouldn’t have thought about before.

A call for job-seeking Calgarians

We are looking for unemployed or underemployed Calgarians (preferably people who have work experience in the oil and gas sector) to sign up for our research project, and to complete profiles on Global Talent Utility. We are also looking for employers who would like to build the profiles of their available jobs the same way. Global Talent Utility will then work out the level of match between the profiles people have created and some jobs in sectors beyond oil and gas.

Another element of our project is to do some assessment of key competencies that employers are looking for. We will also help participants to figure out how they might improve their skills and gain the new ones they need in order to fully qualify for some jobs they are closely matched to.

Since the 2014 downturn in oil prices, many thousands of people have been laid off (while it’s difficult to pin down an exact number, we estimate conservatively about 30,000 oil and gas workers have not been rehired in the sector).[i] While oil and gas is a notoriously cyclical industry, with lay-offs and rehires happening frequently based on the price of oil, there is reason to believe that oil will not reach the heights of only a few years ago. Meanwhile, in the last few years, most firms have redesigned their workflows to minimize costs, including payrolls, so while some of these unemployed/underemployed oil and gas workers may be re-employed in the industry at some point, it is likely that many will not.

While many of those affected by the change in oil prices worked directly in oil and gas, we know that oil and gas affects the entire Albertan economy, and welcome interest from people whose backgrounds are in other sectors.

Sarah Pittman is a policy analyst at the Canada West Foundation

The Transferable Competencies research project is conducted in coordination with several partners: Global Talent Utility, Griffiths-Sheppard Consulting Group, Vametric, Data Angel, ResourceYYC, and The GoldMind Project.

[i] Based on the data retrieved from CANSIM Table 281-0023.