How to land a job in the energy industry

How to land a job in the energy industry

Duke Energy recruiters reveal what you need to know to position yourself for a job

Are you looking for a job or planning on entering the job market? Have you considered a job in the energy industry?

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Energy companies generally provide stable employment with opportunities for growth. Whatever your education and skill level, there’s probably a job that fits your interests. There are opportunities for engineers and environmentalists, customer service representatives and financial analysts, chemists and project managers, cybersecurity techs and, of course, lineworkers.

Duke Energy has jobs in seven states in the Southeast and Midwest and across the country in its renewables operation. The company, which includes Piedmont Natural Gas, is committed to hiring veterans and creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.

I spoke to some Duke Energy recruiters, who offer this advice to people looking for a job:

First things first – Learn about us

Just like when you want to start a new Netflix series, you read the blurb about the show and likely have talked about it with friends and family. When starting your job search, you’ll want to read about the company, Duke Energy’s career page or LinkedIn. It’s helpful to connect with people who work at the company and ask their impressions of the work environment, mission and vision. If your values align to those at Duke Energy – a culture of inclusion, opportunities for growth and impact – then you should proceed with applying.

If a Duke Energy employee referred you, enter their name. Resumes with an employee referral attached will be considered a priority after internal candidates. This will generate an email to the employee you listed and ask that employee to endorse you.  

Duke Energy recruiters will sometimes schedule a phone call with candidates they think best match what a hiring manager is looking for. They may want to know why you’re looking for a job or what interested you in the job you applied for.

Honesty and diplomacy

In job seeking as in life, honesty is the best policy. If you’re not currently working, say so.

If you’re in the job market because you’re unhappy in your current job, find a brief, diplomatic way to convey that if a recruiter asks why you’re looking.

Candice McPhatter
Candice McPhatter

“As an applicant, you decide what you want to share,” recruiter Candice McPhatter said. “You shouldn’t criticize your current employer, but a response like, ‘My department recently had a reorg, so there’s some uncertainty,’ or ‘I want more growth and development than my current role allows’ is appropriate.”

“Don’t be transparent to a fault,” McPhatter said. “If you can’t cut off the faucet after a simple statement, you’re doing yourself a disservice.”

If you’re working in the energy industry, you can emphasize that experience, said Recruiting Manager Katie Krantz. If you’re not – but you have worked in an environment that values the things that are important to Duke Energy (safety, cybersecurity, information protection, innovation) – mention those.

A recruiter will generally forward three to five resumes for each job opening to the hiring manager for consideration. The hiring manager (the person who could be your boss) decides how many of those to interview.

Meeting your potential boss

After an initial phone screening – usually 15 or 20 minutes – you may be invited for an in-person interview with the hiring manager. Bring a copy of your resume with you. The hiring manager will have one, but you need one, too. “And you need to be able to speak to it,” McPhatter said.

Stay current on job opportunities

Recruiters and hiring managers aren’t the only ones asking questions. Candidates should be prepared to ask some, as well. “Come prepared with three to five strong questions related to the role,” McPhatter said. “Questions like ‘What’s the reason the job is vacant?’ or ‘What are the opportunities for development in this role?’ are good. Asking ‘How long before I can take my first day off?’ is not.”

McPhatter stresses the importance of having questions ready: “When discussing otherwise similar candidates, the one who asked questions will always stand out when compared to the one who didn’t ask a single one.”

Be a STAR

A lot of managers ask behavioral-based questions, and they often begin with “Tell me about a time when you …” The interviewer is trying to discover how you behave in situations. The way to respond to a behavior-based question is referred to as the STAR method. It stands for Situation-Task-Action-Result.

Framing your answer using the STAR method (without mentioning the acronym) will ensure your interviewer has the right information. He or she wants to understand the situation you found yourself in, what you viewed as your role in handling that situation, the action you took and, lastly, the impact you made. If you diffused a situation with an angry customer and ended up retaining that customer, that makes for a strong and relevant anecdote.

“Just as you should ask a friend to review your resume for errors, consider getting a friend to practice the STAR method with you,” McPhatter said.

At the end of your meeting, thank the interviewer. Asking about next steps and reiterating your interest in the job are good moves. Thank-you notes never go out of style, although McPhatter said most of them these days are electronic rather than handwritten. Either works.

Next steps

Katie Krantz
Katie Krantz

If you get a second interview, the same rules apply. You’ll likely be interviewing with different people this time. Have questions ready for them, too. As they ask you questions, your answers should be consistent with what you said in the previous interview.

Between each step – application, screening, interview, possible second interview – expect a waiting period. “Our average time to fill a job – from when it’s posted to when an offer is accepted – is 54 days,” Krantz said.

Keep in mind that finding the right fit – for both yourself, and the company – is critical. It takes time to get it right.

 

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