Thread regarding ExxonMobil Corp. layoffs

Seeking Advice to Early Career Engineer

Been with the company for 3 years, joined as campus hire with mechanical engineering degree. I work about 10-12 hours almost every day, sometimes on weekend as well.

I was ranked middle. Even not being PIP-ed, seeing colleagues with great performance/experience getting NSI-ed makes me feel not safe. I don't feel the sense of job security anymore, contrary to what I've been told when I first joined the company: "ExxonMobil hires for long term, employees work here until they retire". Since Aug, due to job uncertainty environment, I keep having anxiety, sometimes panic attack. Every time I think about work, when I wake up or during weekend, it spoils my mood. I've lost my motivation.

This makes me rethink of my career path, what do I really want for long term?

I want to seek your opinions here:

Do you agree that oil and gas industry will no longer be at its peak anymore, unlike 10-20 years ago?

If you were me, is it better to exit the industry now rather than making it as life long career which has down cycle every few years? Or still stick with this industry, just exit the company?

I'm also thinking of switching career, either stay in engineering (renewable, tech industry) or go for future proof jobs (data analytics, machine learning). If anyone has made similar move, can you please share your experience/opinions?

Thank you.

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Post ID: @OP+17hbvb9E

13 replies (most recent on top)

Save like there is no tomorrow and get a plan. I'm in my 50's, ex-EM, a 3rd generation oil and gas engineer and I was one of the biggest proponents of the industry until about 2 years ago. My daughter followed me with a eng degree and is working for a large major and now I regret pushing her that direction. My son is going EE/ECE and computers / tech appears to be the way to go. My advice to young engineers such as yourself is to save every penny and make a plan to change industries; or s— it up and sleep in the bed you've made (the grass is not guaranteed to be greener). Final note: over my 30+ years I lost count how many times people said "oil is a dying industry and will be gone in X years" and every time they were spectacularly wrong, but it really does feel different this time with an entire political movement and party aligned against fossil fuels. Good luck.

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Post ID: @ffi+17hbvb9E

My suggestions: Get an advanced degree if you don't already have one (or even if you do). Berkeley offers a part-time online Masters in Data Science, which you could consider if you are confident of having a job for the next 2-3 years. There are many online options now, due to Covid. Or look into getting an MBA, part-time, or take an educational leave and do it full-time. I think Harvard does not even offer a part-time option. I don't suggest doing a PhD unless you're passionate about research. (I did, and am finding it harder to find jobs with a PhD.) Build transferable skills. It is true that layoffs can happen anywhere, but the way EM is doing it through PIP-ing (often good, hard working employees) is worse than others. And having transferable skills will make it easier to switch to another company or industry. Machine learning is a growing area, but it is not immune to automation (ML can be automated too). If you're working 12 hours a day and weekends, make sure you get returns on your effort(not likely at EM).

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Post ID: @bul+17hbvb9E

This years “middle” is next years bottom, so I’d start looking now while you still have a job.

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Post ID: @aax+17hbvb9E

Best advice regarding career planning, wealth building, savings and happiness was from my former boss/SLS in ExxonMobil - always marry a rich spouse and then enjoy life and don't worry, be happy! I always feel optimistic about ExxonMobil future because only a great company with a genius supervisor could have given such amazing advice.

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Post ID: @cks+17hbvb9E

I agree with a lot of the previous posts. With much of EM technical tasks being relocated to India/KL, there will be even less opportunities in the US. The working environment has deteriorated over the past 10 to 15 years and that trend is likely to continue. There is less and less attraction or benefit to working at a company like EM. The culture is lousy and the pay/benefits much less attractive than they used to be. Find something you truly enjoy doing and with a culture more suited to your personality. My advice to anyone starting out is learn to be happy with less material "stuff" . I've found that all a big salary gets you is a bigger house (bigger mortgage) fancier cars ( bigger loans) ...and. lot more stress and unhappiness. It's all an illusion!

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Post ID: @uzp+17hbvb9E

I am a retired mechanical engineer out of the utility industry. We knew that the energy market was going to be challenged many decades ago, and that there would be a substantial reduction in the number of coal fired plants, but it actualy happened quicker than most people expected. Like many engineers I saw turmoil in different markets through the years and many companies ceased to exist, or become very much smaller than they were then (remember Leeds & Northrup?). Utilities were once a sector that offered good jobs for life but that has not been the case for sometime now. I see the oil sector the same way.

The pace of industry is much faster now and getting faster all the time. Your shelf life as an employee will be shorter and you will need to re-invent yourself constantly, but seriously who really has the time and energy to do so over decades? And chances are that even if you can keep up, your age will count against you in the end because when companies cut they want to cut older workers, no secret there.

If I were to offer some advice, I would suggest that you make every opportunity to secure your future as early as possible and save. Don't buy the big house and the fancy car, but save your money so you have options later. Be aware that when you make a significant investment in the oil and gas industry it will likely not be seen (right or wrong) as translatable to the next new thing. The hiring director of widgets will be more likely to hire an engineer fresh out of college than someone with years of experience in oil and gas, unless that experience actualy dovetails with what they are looking for at the moment.

I don't envy you, I think all employees need to work with a degree of fear now, and realize that even having that engineering degree is no longer a guaranteed entry to a middleclass life, if it ever was. Good luck.

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Post ID: @xlo+17hbvb9E

There is no such thing as job security, especially in the US. First learn to manage your feelings around that. Work hard but not too hard; keep your eyes and connections open; learn how the game us played. O&G will continue to exist for decades, but it will be painful to work in a shrinking sector where all that's happening is cut after cut. It will be as much fun as the coal industry. Tech is overhyped- overcompetitive, not a fun place, but it pays well for however long it lasts. It does have a future but it is also maturing, and I don't see a huge advantage for US people vs outsourcing; you will see big tech cost cutting and outsourcing in the 2020s, so back to square 1: there is no such thing as job security, learn to manage your feelings around that, etc etc.

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Post ID: @hwa+17hbvb9E

I have seen a lot of people who joined Amazon or other FAANGs. O&G is uncertain, but probably won't die. I would say that tech is probably better long term. Get a MBA and move into leadership

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Post ID: @dbd+17hbvb9E

Changing jobs is not easy, even in a good economy. Realistically speaking, you will initially feel like you are behind your peers for 6mo to a year as you adjust to a new job/new culture/new industry. It still may be worth it...just factor it into the decision.

I worked at another company and in another industry. Before I left, they went through a major layoff. I felt all the same stresses I feel now. Honestly, you won’t find a company or industry where layoffs or low-performance separations don’t happen. My gauge is whether I enjoy my work day, 3 out of 5 days of the week. If that is the case, I am still on the upside.

As a new employee, don’t fret about a middle ranking. That is a fine place to be.

If you do leave, double check all your dates for vesting and such. I’ve seen employees leave months before becoming vested, which seems silly.

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Post ID: @cxp+17hbvb9E

Get out now! Just start applying - it will take tens or a couple hundred of applications to start getting interviews but it is best to start applying now, land a job and leave while you’re still employed. If you’re putting in crazy hours might as well feel fulfilled - - it will definitely happen somewhere else. It almost feels like there’s no sense of purpose here at XOM and I have personally felt anxiety also and it’s mostly the culture that just lacks collaboration and a sense of truly belonging. As an experienced hire, things just aren’t right here... when stuff doesn’t feel right you know it, and I personally see the current situation as an opportunity to just get out without wasting our life for a heartless company ( all of them are I guess ;) but things are much better other places.

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Post ID: @iwz+17hbvb9E

I involuntarily made this move after being ranked NSI at my first assessment. Initially, it hit me like a train. My pre-ranking assessment went great, and my most recent presentation (a few weeks before being laid off) had great feedback from my supervisor, who at the time advised me on several next steps and collaborations to look into before the product's next review in autumn. I wasn't quite prepared to get the carpet pulled out from underneath me, but I worked hard over the next couple of months to land a job before severance ran out. This is just my experience:

  1. Changing industries is difficult, and changing job positions even more so. I moved into tech as a programmer, and it was hard to sell myself as a competent programmer. Even though I've had plenty of personal projects and work experience, my past job titles and college degree were not explicitly CS, so explaining to change to recruiters and HR managers took some finesse.
  1. The job market is trash right now. It's slowly gotten better, but expect to do a lot of networking and put in a lot of applications. Your options for getting out of oil and gas may not be as stable as you'd like. Temp-to-hire positions via third-party recruiters seem to be a little more common than direct, permanent hires. If you cannot get out of the industry as a direct hire to another company, you may need to weigh your options and decide how badly you want out, even if means taking a three month gig that may or may not turn into something permanent.
  1. I worked with several job platforms and several techniques for networking. At the end of the day, I've decided that unless you have a great connection somewhere (and unfortunately, being in the early career, your network just isn't as large as someone who is senior), your best bet is a wide net with LinkedIn. Yes, it's time to become THAT LinkedIn hoe. Polish your resume, make a personal website, change your LinkedIn headline to game the search algorithms, share blog posts a couple times a week, and ensure that your profile starts getting hits. Apply everywhere and aim for newly posted jobs from smaller companies, whose interviews are likely less stringent than FAANG's. Make applying to jobs a daily routine using LinkedIn's job alerts. It's a numbers game. You may get lucky and land early, but more likely than not it'll take a few hundred applications over the course of a few months before something bites. Have faith. There is a way out.
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Post ID: @irs+17hbvb9E

use your engineering background and get into datacenter design / engineering, go work for microsoft / amazon or google.

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Post ID: @ukf+17hbvb9E

I am middle career and it is hard for me to make a switch, but for you, yes, it is more and more obvious that OG is a sunset industry and you should leave while it's still early for you. If money is what you are looking for, then don't do engineering, do IT.

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Post ID: @gqz+17hbvb9E

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