Employers, are you giving enough ‘bear hugs’?

HOUSTON — Highly sought after experts in the oil and gas industry are not actively looking to change  jobs, says Mark Charman, chief executive officer of Faststream Recruitment Group.

While employees already in energy-related occupations  are keeping one eye on the market, they’re not generally applying for openings. And because they’re not posting their resumes on big job boards or responding to advertisements, it’s more difficult for recruiters like Charman — who is at the Offshore Technology Conference to meet with clients — to find job candidates.

Another hurdle for recruiters — and their clients who want to hire those with the technical, professional and other skills in short supply — is that good candidates are being “bear hugged” by their employers.

When a company knows it will be very difficult to find another naval architect, it will do what it needs to do to make sure its key employee doesn’t leave. Sometimes they do it with stock options that vest over a number of years while other times it’s offering more work/life balance or the chance to telecommute.

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The bear hug doesn’t have to focus on individual employees. Many companies are putting their arms around their entire work force by reinstating benefits they cut during the Great Recession such as training and development opportunities or improving others such as 401(k) company matches or offering enhanced health care benefits, said Charman.

For the companies that do it well,  a bear hug is hard to break up. Charman recalled one senior executive he was working with earlier this week who likes his job but was interested in an exciting new opportunity. However his current employer had given him stock options that don’t vest for another four years.

Charman said the candidate ultimately decided not to leave his current job. It’s too much money to give up.

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