Are you thinking about coming to Williston because you have heard about all the jobs, the higher rate of pay and the streets lined with gold? Let’s cut through the myths and focus on what the reality is so if you decide to come our way, you know exactly what you’re getting into. This advice is not exclusive to Williston either, apply this same logic to any area in the Bakken.
Right now Williston has been in the spotlight for a few reasons. One example is our unemployment rate. It’s the lowest in the nation and in fact, it should be zero because anyone wanting a job can have one.
The number one thing you need to consider before anything else is, are you willing to work for it? While jobs are plentiful here (recent estimates say there are 20,000 jobs needing to be filled), a big paycheck is not just going to fall in your lap. People are working long hours for it.
One really great resource is jobsnd.com. It’s a place where many local businesses post openings so that you can find them all in one convenient place. Take the time to create a profile and upload a resume.
You can also utilize places like monster.com and careerbuilder.com. I know that some companies look through there to fill certain jobs.
Start by considering the following questions:
- Are you willing to work 70-90 hours a week?
- Can you pass a drug test (every time)?
- Do you have reliable transportation?
- Do your homework, start networking and applying now
- Have you taken the time to build a resume?
- Do you have housing?
Be prepared to work the hours– Not only are jobs plentiful here but because there are so many that need to be filled, people are finding themselves working 70-90 (sometimes more) hours a week to help make up the slack. Some oil field jobs work a few weeks on with a week or two off. Some are seasonal. Some people come up here work through the spring, summer and fall and get laid off during the winter. They draw unemployment through the Winter and head back when the roads thaw.
Can you pass all the checks?- It is my feeling that things are beginning to shift here. Companies are taking more care to screen employees with background checks, driving records, drug tests and just doing a better job making sure that each candidate is truly qualified for the job. Our turnover rate here for some companies is as high as 70%. Companies are starting to finally understand that it’s important to really make a good fit and make a better effort in regards to employee retention. This is a trend that I hope to see continue. You want an employee that is there for the long haul, not just until they find another job.
Reliable transportation- This is usually a no brainer but there are some things to consider that might not be on your radar. First, public transportation is almost nonexistent. There is no mass transit system and while some companies do provide shuttles from “man camps” to your work, it’s difficult to plan for those when your hours are often long and unpredictable. Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. Get all maintenance done before you get here. Getting an oil change can take 3 or 4 hours and if something needs to be repaired you could easily be waiting for weeks just to have the car looked at. My vehicle needed repairs last year and after going all over town the only one that wanted to take it on asked me to bring it in a week later. When we did it took 7 weeks to finish. SEVEN WEEKS. They did a great job but things don’t happen overnight here.
Start doing your homework- Keep meticulous notes. Start making calls before you arrive. Also most places are going to want you to apply online so do that ahead of time. Call and talk to the person in charge of hiring and make your name known. Touch base with them weekly. Taking notes is going to be important. Keep a log of where you apply, what position, what the job entails and the name and date of anyone you speak to. Look into the companies you apply for so you know a little about them. When you speak to a representative from a company you have applied for, don’t just ask what they pay. If you sound like all you care about is the money, they will be less likely think of you when the time comes.
Build a resume- Ask yourself first, what am I qualified to do. What have I done in the past? What achievements can I claim? These are all things that need to be put into a well thought out, neat but brief resume. If you are thinking that a resume is not worth your time, think again. It’s not impossible to get a job without it but your chances are much better with one. It also shows that you are clear about what you can do and are willing to do, that you care about looking for a job enough to create one and it gives your prospective employer a snapshot of who you are.
Do you have housing?– While it’s vital that you consider your housing needs, I’ll address that separately. Make sure to read through that because that will most likely be your largest and most frustrating obstacle. Check out our housing page for more information.
Promote quickly- One thing I have seen over and over here is that many people come here thinking they will just be handed a high paying job and live on easy street. When they get here and realize that there are long hours and sometimes difficult conditions they fold like a deck of cards. It’s one of the reasons our turnover rate is high. On the flip side, if you show yourself to be reliable, loyal and pro-active in your approach, more times than not you will be rewarded. It’s easier to be promoted and move to the head of the line.
Making the trip a smart one- If you have been applying and talking to people ahead of time, at some point you are going to make the trip. Make it a smart one. Make sure you have a copy of all your documents. Birth certificate, license, certifications, diploma and if you have a CDL make sure you have a current medical card, a copy of your driving record and you should look into Osha 10 training.
Last, a few reminders. These are just things that will help me this community and your experience a better one. Even if your time here is temporary, treat it like it’s your home.
- Throw away your trash (you don’t want people throwing garbage in your yard do you?).
- If you make a mistake, own up to it. People respect that more than someone who points fingers at everyone but themselves.
- Take the time to say hi to people, hold the door open when you can and always have the mindset of, how would I want someone to behave in my home or how would I want someone to behave toward my parents, wife, or children?
- Drive with caution- driving conditions are not always optimal here. From high wind to ice and snow, you have to take care in what you are doing. The most dangerous stretch of road in North Dakota is highway 85, stretching from Watford City to Williston. Drive defensively all the time and never assume the other person sees you. Unfortunately many drivers here are relying on substances to help stay awake and that makes for dangerous conditions. It doesn’t matter if we are talking legal or illegal substances or multiple energy drinks, it goes on continually.
Finally, if you have questions or need advice, stop by our facebook page and ask a question. Our readers are always willing to help and extend a neighborly hand. Many have been through the same situations and can provide valuable insight.