Door-knocking in LA - Job Hunt Report

My dad says: “I’m amazed you can go down there and in two days have a job.”

Which reminds me of that indy band that just charted – overnight success, right? Never mind the last three or five or seven years of playing to drunks for tips in podunk towns all across the country.

But it’s true – to land that job with a company I really wanted to work for – it took me just two … years? Months?

It started on my first door-knocking trip to Louisiana, almost three years ago. I stopped-in, met with the HR guy, and we had a really nice chat. He told me to come see him again when I had some oilfield experience.

A year passes, I return, we have another nice talk and he tells me that, darnit, if I just had the DP Induction class knocked-out, he would have hired me. I got back to another crewboat company for a year. Get more experience. Go and take DP (and a whole bunch of other stuff) on my own dime.

A couple of months ago, between classes in Louisiana, I stop by the office to see that HR man. The lady at the front desk tells me they don’t do walk-in interviews anymore and if the HR guy has my application, that’s all they need. They review apps and call the folks they want to talk to. Huh.

Meanwhile, I’ve interviewed with two of the three biggest companies that have 100-ton boats as well as larger boats. My short list, by the way, includes just the four or five companies that has a such a mix of vessels; I’m pretty close to upgrading and would like to just move up in a company rather than start over somewhere new. Also on my short list are companies that offer paid travel and training and have at least decent benefits.

The HR Veep at one company (I don’t want to be too specific here, but it rhymes with “Harvey”) tells me he has a spot for me, but it will be toward the end of the month when a new boat is launched. He quotes a very attractive day rate (the company is known for having the highest day rates in the Gulf). He tells me to check back with him in a week. For the next six weeks, I check in by email and phone. That job is just around the corner, just waiting on final approval, and – finally – I get a background check form in my inbox.

“Fill this out and get it back to me as soon as possible,” the HR VEEP says. Wow! They’re spending a couple of dollars on my app! It must be real now!

Another week goes by. And another. I have to go back to work – somewhere – soon. I’ve turned down two job offers in the meantime – one from a really good small company that didn’t quite meet all my criteria; another laughable offer from the company I always think of as the place I’d go if i really screwed-up somewhere.

I head to Louisiana, and on Monday stop first at the big boat company that told me they had a spot for me. I meet with the HR Veep. He tells me he’s still waiting on final approval, and has a meeting with the decider-in-chief early Wed. I should hear something by mid-morning Wed. and ought to expect to be back at the office first thing Thurs. “Stick around,” he said.

I’ve got time to kill. On a whim, I duck into the office I’d been turned away from two months before. There’s a new lady at the front desk. I remind the HR guy of our previous discussions. He looks at me long and hard and then laughs: “Well, you did what I told you … I guess I have to put you to work.”

And, considering that other company’s track record on communicating with me, I figured I’d better let him.

Take care of the physical and drug test, then enjoy a long weekend with your family, the HR guy tells me. I’ll call you, he says.

And he has, twice. I start Monday.

Observations and Overheard, this round of door-knocking:

[li]Everything Jemplayer wrote (see the sticky at the top of this topic: still applies. (My experience, anyhow)[/li][li]The Cajun Inn in Galliano is old and small, but very clean and comfortable enough. Free WiFi and basic cable. Only $54/night and right in the middle of a lot of companies. (First-hand experience)[/li][li]At least one photocopied list of companies that is circulating (a couple of guys, also job-hunting, I ran into showed it to me) misses a whole bunch of companies, including some that might be especially welcoming to someone new (licensed or not) to the industry.[/li][li]Nicky Collins at ECO has filled his quota for mates from the academies for the time-being. (Overheard, not verified)[/li][li]Hiring seems to have slowed a bit, at the larger companies anyhow. (Note that at the mom-and-pop companies, people come and go more frequently). At ECO, for instance, Nicky told me his turnover is down to single digits now. Hiring there, for officers as officers at least, seems to be contingent upon either a.) knowing Dino personally, or b.) newbuilds hitting the water. (First-hand).[/li][li]On the other hand, there still seems to be a robust construction schedule across the industry, it looks like Mexico may be opening up in the short-term and the eastern US seaboard in the longer-term. The rest of this year into 2015 still appears to be on an upwards trend with regard to deepwater in the GoM, at least. (Surmise)[/li]

There were a lot of folks job-hunting the two days I was in Louisiana last week, and a lot of folks getting turned away without interviews or without jobs. So, once again, I feel blessed and grateful to be employed and moving forward. And I’m thankful for the encouragement and advice I’ve found on and through gCaptain.

Finally, I would say this: If you read that so many people just got hired at such and such company, well, those spots are filled. Don’t be afraid to do your own research and apply at some of the companies no one talks about or that don’t make all the lists. Some of them aren’t even on LA 1 or LA 308 – some of them are in New Iberia and Morgan City and Amelia, just for instance.

Oh yeah … that other company, the one I’ve been waiting on for two months now? Yeah, they never called.

Well, things may have slowed down but they sure haven’t stopped because we had up to 9 vessels sidelined this summer for want of engineers, and now the ABs are leaving too. Crewing is playing whack-a-mole moving people from one boat to another just to get out and sail a leg. People are leaving either for the Gulf or to tug companies or the Lakes. I’m sitting here pierside on the west coast as I write this. There are only three of us engineers on board and that includes the Chief and we are supposed to have six. It won’t be much longer for me, either. Right now, I can’t afford to go door knocking but hope to be in a better spot next spring! Congrats on your new job.

From what I hear from friends in the GOM, are engineers more so in demand than deck personnel still?

[QUOTE=Ctony;141430]From what I hear from friends in the GOM, are engineers more so in demand than deck personnel still?[/QUOTE]

I don’t yet work on boats where I see more than the occasional QMED and, rarely, a DDE. I do know that the conventional wisdom in the GoM holds that engineers are in greater demand, and that makes sense to me because, frankly, it appears to be a harder job.

I have a friend at ECO who is a QMED and makes good money. He’s sitting his DDE Unlimited soon and expects (rightly or not, I don’t know) to be looking at something comfortably over the six-figure mark.