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Pricing Yourself Out of an Inflated Job Market

Posted: 9/08/2012 5:00:00 AM by Mining Oil and Gas Jobs
Filed under: Job-seekers, Mining, Oil-and-gas, Construction

It’s boom time and all paths to employment are paved with gold, right? Well, in the Australian resources industry, it might seem that way. If you read the press, you’d be forgiven for thinking anyone can get a high-paying mining job and you won’t need many skills to do it. We’re not talking tabloid press, either. The Wall Street Journal and The Australian both run stories about big wages for resource industry employees.

But if you’re reading closely, you’ll also notice a lot of the major employers are concerned about the rising cost of doing business in Australia. Wage inflation is a component of this concern and that’s being reported too – but not so gleefully.

Gaining perspective on wages

Entry-level jobs for people with no skills are being paid a starting wages of anywhere from $55,000 to $65,000 dollars. Add in overtime and bonuses for FIFO work and you can easily add $15,000 or more to your take-home pay.

Professional workers and skilled tradesmen in the resources industry – especially those with site experience – are the highest paid workers in Australia.

Add accommodation, food and much of your recreation expenses being covered while on roster, workers in the Australian resources industry are getting great packages.

Carpetbagging the industry

And yet, many workers jump ship for a relatively small increase in money. Other workers are auctioning off their services to the highest bidder.  While it might seem like a good idea to cash in, you might want to think twice about this tactic.

One engineering manager expressed a concern about this trend.

“I’ll hire to get the job done but it’s not the smartest way to start a job. I won’t put any effort into keeping that person around when the project winds down,” he said.

Another hiring manager said this about tradies,

“We want to hire people for the long term. If we think someone is job hopping to get a few extra dollars, we won’t consider them.”

Preparing for “lumpy” demand

Both managers provide food for thought. MP Chris Bowen, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship spoke about the challenges of managing the skills shortage at the AMMA Migration and Labour Sourcing Conference in Brisbane.

“We’re seeing significant amounts of project construction all coming online around the same time, creating up to 287,000 new construction jobs through to 2018. That’s over 28 per cent of Australia’s current construction workforce,” the minister said.

“This represents a significant increase in the demand for workers over a relatively short period of time. But it’s also very lumpy demand as these construction jobs are not ongoing. This means we need to be strategic about how we tackle these demands.”

And that’s exactly where the problem comes in. It’s boom time now but it won’t last forever. Speak with anyone in manufacturing, auto, aviation and refining industries and they’ll have a very different view about the importance of finding and keeping a job.

What this means for jobseekers

Minister Bowen speaks about the need for government and industry to act strategically and jobseekers need to do the same. Using short-term tactics to get a higher wage is already frowned upon by employers. It’s best to consider how you can plan a career in the industry, not make a grab for the cash. The boom won’t last forever and you’ll want to be well-placed to continue working. Throwing your hat in with the highest bidder can potentially damage your reputation and your ability to secure work over the longer term.

What do you think?

  • If you’re looking for a job in mining, energy or oil and gas, make sure you visit our industry jobs board  where we only advertise real jobs by real employers.
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog. We’re publishing new information every day about employment in the Australian resource industry.

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