Kat Boogaard

Dear Kat: 5 Tips for Finding a Job in a Downturn

Blog Post created by Kat Boogaard on Oct 9, 2016

Chances are, you’re familiar with the classic “Dear Abby” column that allows eager readers to submit burning questions and gather some insightful advice.


Well, today, I’m so excited to share this new “Dear Kat” column concept, where I’ll be dedicating an entire article to answering a specific career question submitted by you—the readers and Pink Petro community members.


I don’t think I could ever quite follow in the famed the footsteps of the beloved “Dear Abby” (and my hair will undoubtedly never be as impressive). But, I’m hopeful that this format gives you the opportunity to read content and advice that is completely targeted toward what you really want to know and learn about.


So, today, we’re kicking off this column with this important question:


“I've been looking for a job for a while, and—while I've had offers in other industries or other jobs—nothing excites me. What advice do you have for someone trying to find a job in a downturn?”


This is a critical question for so many people. In an economic landscape as tumultuous and fickle as ours, all industries can experience some pretty dramatic ups and downs. This is especially true for those of you in the energy industry, which can be an especially volatile field.


Needless to say, finding a new gig during an industry downturn presents a unique challenge. Luckily, there are a few tips you can implement to up your chances of landing a new job—even when your particular career field is at a low point.


1. Find What Makes You Stand Out

Here’s one thing that makes finding a job during a downturn much more complex: Increased competition. With less and less opportunities available, there are more and more applicants flocking to each posted position.


Standing out from the crowd is important regardless of when you’re job hunting—but, it becomes increasingly critical when your specific field has limited opportunities.


So, before just blanketing the entire world in your resume, make a list of the things you can do to separate yourself from the sea of competition. This should include basic things, like tailoring your resume and cover letter (yes, you should absolutely plan to do that for every position you apply for!).


But, you can also take things a step further by creating a personal website to showcase some of your work or accomplishments or even connecting with the hiring manager on LinkedIn to start forming a relationship.


Remember, you don’t just want to add your resume to the never-ending pile—you want to be on the very top of it. And, that’s going to take some work on your end to ensure you make an impression.


2. Remember Quality Over Quantity

There’s a trap that’s all too easy to fall into when you’re feeling desperate to find a new job: You fire off resume after resume and convince yourself that it’s a productive way to job search.


However, believe me when I tell you that you likely won’t see great results from that sort of rapid fire approach. When it comes to applying for jobs, your focus should be on quality over quantity.


Take the time and put in the elbow grease to appropriately tailor your resume and thoughtfully fill out the required application. Keep a detailed record of the jobs you apply for so that you can actually follow up on the hiring process and demonstrate even more interest in the company and the open position. Your attention to detail and your ability to follow through are both important.


Yes, I know that it might seem like applying for 20 jobs in a day rather than two will significantly increase your chances of actually finding something. But, I’d argue that the opposite is true. After all, if those 20 applications are half-assed and the two applications are top-notch? Well, that makes a pretty big difference in your success rate.


3. Network Like Crazy

Networking is always important. But, it becomes absolutely crucial when you’re hunting for a job during an unstable time in your field.


I know you’re likely tired of the cliché, “It’s not always what you know, but who you know” line. But, this sentiment is oft-repeated for a reason: It really holds some water. When companies are overwhelmed with a flood of applicants who are eagerly seeking employment during a downturn, they typically rely on referrals from existing employees and trusted contacts even more than usual.


Pink Petro is a great community to connect with people, share ideas, and meet others in the energy industry. But you also have to get out there and join an industry association that allows you to meet people you don’t already know. You can also head out to some networking events in your local area. Remember, you can get the largest list of events geared toward women and industry in the Events area on Pink Petro.


Don’t hesitate to set up informational interviews with companies and people you admire either. Do what you need to do to get your name out there, shake some hands, and make some meaningful connections. Those can take you far.


4. Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box

You might have your eyes set on a very specific job for a very specific type of company. However, when you’re faced with a job hunt during a tumultuous time, it’s important to recognize that you don’t always have the luxury of being selective.


Don’t hesitate to think outside the box and identify some non-traditional areas where you could apply your skills, experience, and expertise. If you’re a Project Manager, for example, you can market yourself to a wide variety of industries—and not just the one you’ve grown accustomed to or have had your sights set on.


I know that it’s not the most encouraging thought to have to abandon your vision in favor of trying something new. But, sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get yourself through a rocky time. When your desired industry bounces back? You can try job searching then—with even more experience and a fresh perspective!


5. Stay Positive

Here it is—the cliché advice you knew had to show up somewhere.


There’s no denying that trying to hunt for a new job when your industry is at a total lowpoint can be incredibly discouraging and disheartening. But, do your best to keep your chin up.

The energy industry is experiencing a downturn—not an eternal downward spiral. Sooner or later, it will be on an upswing again. This too shall pass. And, it doesn’t do you any good to wallow in your misery in the meantime.


Instead, channel your energy into making the best of it. As cheesy as it may sound, a positive attitude can make a world of difference.



Do you have a burning career question you want answered? Leave it in the comments below, and it’ll be considered for an upcoming column.