• 24th August 2016

Is Money the Most Important Thing in a Job Offer

Over the past 6 years, I have seen the terrible lows and the ridiculous highs of the Oil and Gas industry.

I have spoken to so many clients with a laid-up fleet and many more skilled crew who have been made redundant; it’s almost easy to forget that just over 2 years ago we were looking at $108 a barrel and Chief Engineers going out on day rates of £500+.

When the price fell, it wasn’t a gradual lowering of wages – it was fast and it was painful. Companies that had speculated way too highly were making redundancies left and right and some of the most loyal employees were being made redundant with no more than a month’s pay. This was and is the way of the Barrel Price. We worship it and we fear it.

For those that have been affected by the Barrel Price in the worst way, job hunting has been a key focus. However many have failed to emotionally accept the fallout of the price crash. I’ve heard many candidates tell me that they only “want something to tide them over”, others however have taken a bit more of a ‘cut and dry’ take and moved sector for good. With the market showing some signs of recovery, a lot of people have been asking us – “What’s the right move for me?”

It’s a difficult question to answer. 3 years ago it was a simple trio of factors: money, rotation, ship type – now however there are a lot more considerations:

Let’s get this one out of the way, money is a big deal. There is of course a correlation between salary on offer and the size/success of the company. However money is also a cheap way of attracting staff. We need to remember that whilst the difference of 10 grand is massive to us, typically it is a tiny fraction of a percentage point on a company’s balance sheet. As long as the salary on offer is enough to pay your bills and maintain your desired lifestyle, it should be one of the lowest factors to consider.

Work Pattern
We’re not just talking about rotations here but also shift patterns and level of on board manning. One of the biggest cost cutting exercises that has happened has been to reduce the amount of crew on board and make the people left behind work longer shifts and rotations. Whilst MLC tries to protect seafarers from working an unsafe amount of hours, this is extremely hard to police and I’ve heard stories of guys working 16+ hours a day. The other consideration is of course the rotation – this is not just as easy as looking at the weeks on/weeks off – you need to look at how often do crew have to stay on or start early, is training taken out of your leave time, what are the normal travel routes. Although a week on/week off can look attractive for those wanting to spend more time at home, it could quickly become 9 on/ 5 off if you spend a day travelling each way. Likewise 4 months away doesn’t sound great, but if most of those months are spend within phone range or have decent internet connections then it could just feel like home away from home.

Job security
This is a big one. I spoke to a guy recently who had been on £85,000 a year as 3rd engineer, such a great salary. He was made redundant last year and has found it hard to get into a new job since, suddenly that £85,000 feels more like £42,500. It’s easy to be tempted by big money offers, but dig deeper – What are the company’s plans for the future? Where will you be in 2 years or 5 years’ time? What is the company’s history or turnover of staff?

Future opportunities
A job that seems great now, may not be what you want in the future. Although the temptation is to go for any job available, you should always look at a career move with the next 5-10 years in mind. Where do you want to be? If you are looking for a promotion at some point, look at the people in the positions above (Linkedin is a great source). How old are they, how long have they been there? Lack of turnover could mean that promotion is down to “dead man’s shoes”, whilst newly hired people in senior positions could show lack of internal opportunities. It’s a fine line, and should always be considered (if you’re unable to find out yourself, then ask your recruiter, or at interview).

Benefits package
This is maybe one the most important parts to take into account. Benefits can range wildly, from the traditional Pensions and Training funds to the more obscure, Business class flights, free phone cards and ‘Price-per-head food budget’.
These are all examples of how a company look after their people and offers a great insight into how much they value retention of staff.
In this day and age pensions are becoming more and more important, especially if you live in a country with a high cost of living (UK, US, Scandanavia, etc.). It’s all well and good earning top money whilst you are working, but with constant inflation and fluctuating job markets, it can be settling to know that your retirement is taken care of. Fewer companies offer the pensions of old (MNOPF, final salary, Civil Service etc), so if you get a job that offers one, hold on to it as long as possible.
Training funds are also becoming more important as the MLC starts to impose more regulations on certificate requirements – one of our clients even counts your training as “on time”.
The other benefits don’t lack importance either as they all offer a greater work/life balance – when you spend the majority of your life at sea, it’s important that it’s as easy as possible.

The bottom line is, take everything into account. Remember – it’s not all about the money.

– Darius Tadjrishi, Head of Offshore and Renewables

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