Getting Social: Oil, Gas Finding Success Using Social Media in Recruiting


The prevalence of social media is something that can’t be ignored, whether it’s being used by teens to network socially with peers, by politicians to garner election votes or by small businesses to increase brand awareness. At its core, social media is an engine allowing individuals or organizations to share information and interact with one another. At its most intricate and detailed, it can be quite complex.       

But for the world of oil and gas, traditionally a more conservative industry and one slower to adopt heavy social media usage, the last few years have seen social media gain popularity among many energy companies as a way to propel their marketing and communications functions – and sometimes engage in Twitter wars.    

And while we know social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter are great for marketing and sharing breaking news updates – Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Saudi Aramco, recently announced the appointment of its new CEO via Twitter – how are energy companies utilizing social media to recruit potential job candidates and how effective are their efforts? Rigzone reached out to several oil and gas companies, and while some weren’t as forthcoming about their social media recruiting strategies, it’s clear they are at least using social media, as evidenced by their tweets and Facebook posts.

A spokesperson for Chevron Corp. shared that “social media is a part of the company’s integrated marketing campaign,” and an Exxon Mobil Corp. representative said the company uses social media to highlight stimulating careers. ExxonMobil has done so recently with their #BeAnEngineer initiative on Twitter, which shares industry statistics regarding the need for engineers and opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education as well as highlights the stories of engineers working in the field.


Just as job search has changed throughout the years, so have recruiting strategies. According to a Forbes article, “social proof” – the “testimonials, endorsements and recommendations of a [candidate’s] abilities that appear on social networks” is a must for those actively seeking employment. Oil and gas companies know this, and they’re catching on.

“Shell Recruitment has been an early adopter of social media,” Lara Matthai, global channels manager for recruitment marketing for Royal Dutch Shell plc, told Rigzone. “Using social media, we have grown our brand presence exponentially over the past five years and reaped benefits in the form of building strong relationships with top talent as well as hiring them faster and smarter.”

Matthai said social media has allowed Shell to find the best job candidates more effectively, serving as a great channel for dialogue, showcasing its employer brand, better understanding job candidates, engaging applicants through the recruitment process and communicating with wider audiences on a more personalized level.

“Using social media and networking for the best talent using social media is not as simple,” said Matthai. “It requires making the right connections, patience, a respect for privacy and a true desire to be connected in more ways than just to offer a job. If used appropriately and with clear objectives and principles in mind, it definitely helps to find and reach more qualified candidates.”

Matthai said the broad world of social media offers many specialist sites in which the company can connect with specific audiences who have niche skills and experience. Shell has numerous verified Twitter handles for its different global operations.

“Channels like Twitter or Facebook play an important role here … because of their size, they drive engagement widely,” Matthai said. “Thanks to these and other relevant channels, we are reaching a much more diverse set of talent and unlocking talent in hitherto untapped places.”

Norway-based Statoil ASA uses social media not only to differentiate the company’s position in Norway and internationally, but also to build awareness as an attractive employer. According to company spokesperson Knut Rostad, Statoil has steadily increased the use of Twitter and Facebook, posting brief messages when the company is recruiting for graduates, apprentices and summer interns.

“We see many ‘how can I apply?’ requests as comments on various social media posts we have put out over the years, even if the posts are recruitment initiatives themselves,” Rostad told Rigzone.

GE Oil & Gas uses Twitter and Facebook to share upcoming opportunities at different levels, as well as YouTube and Instagram to help tell the story of the company, said Jacque Field, global recruiting leader for GE Oil & Gas. Field said social media has been helpful in finding more qualified candidates by reaching a wider population, allowing GE to “actively reach candidates” and make it “easier for potential applicants to reach” them.

This “helps GE reach those more passive candidates who are not actively looking for a role, but may be interested in discussing relevant opportunities,” Field told Rigzone. “We have been using these social media channels in our recruiting strategies for over five years. [It’s] been invaluable for filling roles at all levels, particularly at the early to mid-level roles, as well as the more technical roles.”

Similarly, Eric Villareal, Total S.A.’s support and HR marketing manager, said the company uses social media channels to reach passive candidates that they couldn’t have reached directly before social media existed.

“We’re also on Facebook, with a ‘Total Campus’ page, mainly dedicated to students and young graduates from all over the world,” Villareal told Rigzone. “The merit of these digital tools is to have available various levels for actions: from global communication to targeted communications or even proactive research from our recruiters. This opportunity to sort out and filter, to brand and act in a targeted and precise way, comes down to taking over the reins on part of our activity we had until now subcontracted to recruitment firms or head hunters.”

BP plc is very active on Facebook and Twitter and uses social media as a key part of its recruitment communications strategy, Linda Emery, head of talent attraction and candidate experience at BP, told Rigzone. BP highlights new recruitment campaigns, such as announcing the opening of its graduate applications windows, and promotes key vacancies within the organization.

“We believe that our use of social media has helped us to widen the reach of our content and target different diverse groups to encourage them to consider applying for roles at BP,” she said.

Similar to Shell, BP has separate Twitter handles for different parts of the company (e.g. one account for global operations, one for the United States and one for press).

“Different channels are used by different groups in different ways, so we try to be where our target audiences are,” Emery said. “We also try to tailor our messages by channel and geography. Social media is a great way for us to communicate with different audiences, and it enables us to get instant feedback and respond to individuals in a way that was not previously possible.”


During a period in which the energy industry is fighting to recover from the most rapid drop in oil prices in history as well as seeing industry veterans retire, leaving a significant skills and leadership gap in the workforce, social media can help reach a generation who places a greater emphasis on meaningful work, company values and the environment – a generation who isn’t necessarily jumping at the chance to work in oil and gas.  

The advent of social media in recruiting strategies can better help the industry communicate its message to the younger cohort of workers who will be expected to fill the vacant roles left by Baby Boomers. This message is important – and oil and gas companies need to convey it properly.

Shell’s intent is to engage top talent wherever they are and the company has used Google Hangouts, Vine, Instagram and webchats to engage millennials, said Matthai.

GE also looks for the latest and most innovative ways to connect with its target audience.

Through social media, “we are now able to share a narrative about GE with the general public, including how our company is run as well as its primary goals, including efforts to reduce environmental impact in our industry,” she said.   

Field also said GE recognizes the “talent crunch in the oil and gas industry” citing that a large number of expert engineers are expected to retire this year.

“We believe it is essential to fill this gap now by utilizing our power to communicate through our social media channels … we also know that it is imperative to find local talent in emerging markets where new resources are being untapped,” said Field. “We conducted a lot of research around being able to communicate successfully with these millennials in different regions and their preferred channels.”

Field added GE’s focus has been on sharing the company’s narrative, stories and opportunities available across all channels, something GE “believes resonates with millennials.” She cited an example: GE posts YouTube videos focused on “a day in the life of a field service engineer.”

“We need to show how we can offer both a challenging and fulfilling career to young engineers, and that once in the company, demonstrate that we have the highly skilled engineers who are passionate about their work and who can mentor the young entrants into GE throughout their career,” Field said.

Sources indicate that the use of social media in recruitment strategies by oil and gas companies has proven to be beneficial overall. But social media is constantly evolving and continual innovation will be necessary for the industry to keep delivering its message to millennials.

“Given the volume of information available on social media and other channels, potential candidates will judge the information they receive on whether they believe it to be authentic and trustworthy,” said Emery of BP. “A good social media strategy involves the ongoing sharing of authentic messages and allowing people to hear directly from people already working at the company. Potential future candidates will build a view of the company’s employer brand over time. It is important to build this credibility and understanding of what it is really like to work at the company, long before direct recruitment approaches will be effective.”






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