Use your CV as a personal marketing tool. It serves as a platform from which to promote yourself to a prospective employer and, as your life is constantly changing and your career developing, you must consistently update this information. The most effective CVs are those that are tailored or customised to a specific occupation or application - an employer will only spend 20 to 30 seconds glancing at a CV, so you need to highlight your main attractions at the beginning.
It is important to remember that ultimately there are no rules to creating a CV, only conventions and guidelines. You must decide what you want to include that will reflect your good points in relation to the job requirements. This article aims to clarify some of the main steps to creating your perfect fit CV.
To make your CV as effective as possible, think about what skills and qualities they may wish to invest in and why. You can then organise and present your information in a way that is likely to interest the employer.Self-assessment
The first step in your CV writing process should be to assess yourself against the criteria of the role. You should have been provided with a detailed job specification - either upon request from the company or through your recruitment consultant. This offers you insight into the requirements of the employer and is your first opportunity to display evidence of your suitability to the post. By working through a specification and noting examples of when and how you displayed particular skills, you create an application that highlights all the key points an employer is looking for.Content
Make sure your CV is interesting to read and flows in a logical manner. Include personal details such as name, address, telephone number and email address. If you wish to include a personal profile, then it can follow on from these details. A personal profile is an optional paragraph but its purpose is to provide a short, punchy summary of your individual qualities. Through this you can clarify your career plan and highlight your key attributes.Education and qualifications
This section provides details of your educational achievements to date, giving particular prominence to those most recent / relevant. It normally includes names and dates of attendance at school, college and higher education. It is often best to list your education and qualifications in reverse chronological order - and don’t be modest, give your educational achievements the glory they deserve! Don’t assume employers will know about your particular degree or qualification, be prepared to offer a description of what the course entailed and the training you received.Skills, training and memberships
It is important that you include all your software skills - applications, packages, operating systems or databases, as well as details of any additional language skills a level of proficiency. Also include any extra training achieved you feel relevant to the post, such as workshops, seminars or courses.Employment and experience
Details of employment, placements and voluntary work should be included in a specific section of your CV. List positions in reverse chronological order and provide a brief description of the key tasks and skills you developed in each role. Include details of each employer, dates of employment and your own job titles. Use concise sentences or bullet points to save space and ensure the document is aesthetically pleasing.
Even if previous roles are not directly related to the one you are seeking, you can draw attention to examples of transferable skills such as: communication; financial awareness; flexibility; organising and co-ordinating; team work; initiative; supervising and time management. Never leave gaps - if you took a year out, or carried out interim assignments, then say so. It is also advisable that you don’t cite your reasons for leaving a job on your CV - keep it positive and leave this topic for discussion in an interview.References
It is normal to provide the contact details of two referees. These could be one from university and the other from an employer, or if you have gained extensive experience since finishing full time education, could be from two previous employers. If possible, select referees who are appropriate to the specific job for which you are applying and always ask permission from the people you intend to include on your CV before you do so.Presentation
The quality and presentation of your CV is vital when selling yourself. The appearance of your CV is an indication to a prospective employer of the type of person you are. The most effective way to present your CV is with bullet points, bold headings and underlining. These simple methods achieve a clear, structured, user-friendly style. Use headings and sections to signpost your reader to the information they are seeking. Be consistent in how you organise information, for example providing both educational and employment details in reverse chronological order.
Unless your experience spans a considerable number of years, you should try to make sure your CV is no longer than two pages. Use a good quality paper to print your CV and the same stationery for your cover letter. Avoid using a typeface less than 10pts.Types of CV
CVs can be used when applying for advertised job vacancies or can be issued by job seekers and recruitment consultants on a speculative basis. If there are particular firms that interest you, it’s worth sending across your CV for them to keep on file, as many companies keep good CVs that they receive so that they can be reviewed at a later date. Online CVs are also an excellent method of ensuring that employers have immediate access to your professional details, so register with job boards that allow you to upload your CV free of charge for employers to view.
There are a few common mistakes people make when creating a CV: lack of care in particular can be heavily penalised. The importance of checking over your CV for spelling and grammatical errors cannot be emphasised enough. Ask a friend or family member to check over it too, as mistakes will not always be obvious to you.
Do not bind or issue your CV in a plastic wallet or other form of presentation folder, as these are unnecessary and can prove to be more of a hindrance than a help! Send your CV in a good quality A4 envelope so that you don’t have to fold it and post it first class to indicate efficiency.
*This article was first published on 1st June 2014 by Paul Robinson, Business Development Manager in Oil & Gas and is reprinted here with full permission.
**About the Writer:
Experienced Recruiter/Manager with over 20 years in Recruitment including 12 years in the Malaysia Oil & Gas Industry.
Paul is a member of a number of committees supporting both Malaysian, British and Australian companies. These include, MOGSC Subsurface and Drilling Committee, MOGSC Decommissioning Committee, MOGSC CTWG committee, Austrade Oil & Gas Committee Malaysia, EIC Energy Committee - Asia and most recently British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce Energy Committee.
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Throughout much of its history, the United States has imported more petroleum (which includes crude oil, refined petroleum products, and other liquids) than it has exported. That status changed in 2020. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) February 2021 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) estimates that 2020 marked the first year that the United States exported more petroleum than it imported on an annual basis. However, largely because of declines in domestic crude oil production and corresponding increases in crude oil imports, EIA expects the United States to return to being a net petroleum importer on an annual basis in both 2021 and 2022.
EIA expects that increasing crude oil imports will drive the growth in net petroleum imports in 2021 and 2022 and more than offset changes in refined product net trade. EIA forecasts that net imports of crude oil will increase from its 2020 average of 2.7 million barrels per day (b/d) to 3.7 million b/d in 2021 and 4.4 million b/d in 2022.
Compared with crude oil trade, net exports of refined petroleum products did not change as much during 2020. On an annual average basis, U.S. net petroleum product exports—distillate fuel oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, and motor gasoline, among others—averaged 3.2 million b/d in 2019 and 3.4 million b/d in 2020. EIA forecasts that net petroleum product exports will average 3.5 million b/d in 2021 and 3.9 million b/d in 2022 as global demand for petroleum products continues to increase from its recent low point in the first half of 2020.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), February 2021
EIA expects that the United States will import more crude oil to fill the widening gap between refinery inputs of crude oil and domestic crude oil production in 2021 and 2022. U.S. crude oil production declined by an estimated 0.9 million b/d (8%) to 11.3 million b/d in 2020 because of well curtailment and a drop in drilling activity related to low crude oil prices.
EIA expects the rising price of crude oil, which started in the fourth quarter of 2020, will contribute to more U.S. crude oil production later this year. EIA forecasts monthly domestic crude oil production will reach 11.3 million b/d by the end of 2021 and 11.9 million b/d by the end of 2022. These values are increases from the most recent monthly average of 11.1 million b/d in November 2020 (based on data in EIA’s Petroleum Supply Monthly) but still lower than the previous peak of 12.9 million b/d in November 2019.
In the past week, crude oil prices have surged to levels last seen over a year ago. The global Brent benchmark hit US$63/b, while its American counterpart WTI crested over the US$60/b mark. The more optimistic in the market see these gains as a start of a commodity supercycle stemming from market forces pent-up over the long Covid-19 pandemic. The more cynical see it as a short-term spike from a perfect winter storm and constrained supply. So, which is it?
To get to that point, let’s examine how crude oil prices have evolved since the start of the year. On the consumption side, the market is vacillating between hopeful recovery and jittery reactions as Covid-19 outbreaks and vaccinations lent a start-stop rhythm to consumption trends. Yes, vaccination programmes were developed at lightning speed; and even plenty of bureaucratic hiccoughs have not hampered a steady rollout across the globe. In the UK, more than 20% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccines, with the USA not too far behind. Israel has vaccinated more than 75% of its population, and most countries should be well into their own programmes by the end of March. That acceleration of vaccinations has underpinned expectations of higher oil demand, with hopes that people will begin to drive again, fly again and buy again. But those hopes have been occasionally interrupted by new Covid-19 clusters detected and, more worryingly, new mutations of the virus.
Against this hopeful demand picture, supply has been managed. Squabbling among the OPEC+ club has prevented a more aggressive approach to managing supply than kingpin Saudi Arabia would like, but OPEC+ has still managed to hold itself together to placate the market that crude spigots will remain restrained. And while the UAE has successfully shifted OPEC+ quota plan for 2021 from quarterly adjustments to monthly, Saudi Arabia stepped into the vacuum to stamp its authority with a voluntary 1 million barrels per day cut. The market was impressed.
That combination of events over January was enough to move Brent prices from the low US$50/b level to the upper US$50/b range. However, US$60/b remained seemingly out of reach. It took a heavy dusting of snow across Texas to achieve that.
Winter weather across the northern hemisphere seemed harsher than usual this year. Europe was hit by two large continent-wide storms, while the American Northeast and Pacific Northwest were buffeted with quite a few snowstorms. Temperatures in East Asia were fairly cold too, which led to strong prices for natural gas and LNG to keep the population warm. But it was a major snowstorm that swept through the southern United States – including Texas – that had the largest effect on prices. Some areas of Texas saw temperatures as low as -18 degrees Celsius, while electricity demand surged to the point where grids failed, leaving 4.3 million people without power. A national emergency was declared, with over 150 million Americans under winter storm warning conditions.
For the global oil complex, the effects of the storm were also direct. Some of the largest oil refineries in the world were forced to shut down due to the Arctic conditions, further disrupting power and fuel supplies. All in all, over 3 mmb/d of oil processing capacity had to be idled in the wake of the storm, including Motiva’s Port Arthur, ExxonMobil’s Baytown and Marathon’s Galveston Bay refineries. And even if the sites were still running, they would have to contend to upstream disruptions: estimates suggest that crude oil production in the prolific Permian Basin dropped by over a million barrels per day due to power outages, while several key pipelines connecting Cushing, Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast were also forced to shutter.
That perfect storm was enough to send crude prices above the US$60/b level. But will it last? The damage from the Texan snowstorm has already begun to abate, and even then crude prices did not seem to have the appetite to push higher than US$63/b for Brent and US$60/b for WTI.
Instead, the key development that should determine the future range for crude prices going into the second quarter of 2021 will be in early March, when the OPEC+ club meets once again to decide the level of its supply quotas for April and perhaps beyond. The conundrum facing the various factions within the club is this: at US$60/b, crude oil prices are not low enough to scare all members in voting for unanimous stricter quotas and also not high enough to rescind controlled supply. Instead, prices are at a fragile level where arguments can be made both ways. Russia is already claiming that global oil markets are ‘balanced’, while Saudi Arabia is emphasising the need for caution in public messaging ahead of the meeting. Saudi Arabia’s voluntary supply cut will also expire in March, setting up the stage for yet another fractious meeting. If a snow overrun Texans was a perfect storm to push crude prices to a 13-month high, then the upcoming OPEC+ meeting faces another perfect storm that could negate confidence. Which will it be? The answer lies on the other side of the storm.
Much like the year itself, the final quarter of 2020 proved to be full of shocks and surprises… at least in terms of financial results from oil and gas giants. With crude oil prices recovering on the back of a concerted effort by OPEC+ to keep a lid on supply, even at the detriment of their market share, the fourth quarter of 2020 was supposed to be smooth sailing. The tailwind of stronger crude and commodity prices, alongside gradual demand recovery, was expected to have smoothen out the revenue and profit curves for the supermajors.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, losses were declared where they were not expected. And where profits were to be had, they were meagre in volume. And crucially, a deeper dive into the financial results revealed worrying trends in the cash flow of several supermajors, calling into question the ability of these giants to continue on their capital expenditure and dividend plans, and the risks of resorting to debt financing in order to appease investors and yet also continue expanding.
Let’s start with the least surprising result of all. For months, ExxonMobil had been signalling that it would be taking a massive writedown on its upstream assets in Q4 2020, which could lead to a net loss for the quarter and the year. Unlike its peers, ExxonMobil had resisted making writedowns on the value of its crude-producing assets earlier in 2020. At the time, it stated that it had already built caution in the value assessments of those assets, reflecting ‘fair value’; not so long after that bold statement, ExxonMobil has been forced to backtrack and make a US$20.2 billion downward adjustment. Unusually, that meant that non-cash impairments aside, ExxonMobil actually eked out a tiny profit of US$110 million for the quarter on the strength of margins in the chemicals segment, but a full year loss of US$22.4 billion: the first ever annual loss since Exxon and Mobil merged in 1998. This was better than expected by Wall Street analysts, who would also be cheering the formation of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, in which the group would pump some US$3 billion through 2025 to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 2016 levels. That acknowledgement of a carbon neutral future is still far less ambitious than its European counterparts, but is a clear sign that ExxonMobil is starting to take the climate change element of its business more seriously.
If ExxonMobil managed to surprise in a good way, then its closest American rival did the opposite. Chevron had been outperforming ExxonMobil in quarterly results for a while now, but in Q4 2020 retreated with a net loss of US$665 million. That was narrower than the US$6.6 billion loss declared in Q4 2019, but still a shock since analysts were expecting a narrow profit. Calling 2020 ‘a year like no other’, the headwinds facing Chevron in Q4 2020 were the same facing all majors and supermajors, despite gains in crude prices, refining margins and fuel sales were still soft. Chevron’s cash flow was also a concern – as was ExxonMobil’s – which prompted chatter that the two direct descendants of JD Rockefeller’s Standard Oil were considering a merger. If so, then there is at least alignment on the climate topic: Chevron is also following the trail blazed by European supermajors in embracing a carbon neutral future, with CEO Michael Wirth conceding that Chevron may ‘not be an oil-first company in 2040’.
On the European side of the pond, that same theme of lowered downstream performance dragging down overall performance continued. But unlike the US supermajors, the likes of Shell, BP and Total were somewhat insulated from the Covid-19 blows at the peak of the pandemic as their opportunistic trading divisions capitalised on the wild swings in crude and fuel prices. That factor is now absent, with crude prices taking on a steady upward curve. That’s good for the rest of their businesses, but bad for trading, which thrives on uncertainty and volatility. And so BP reported a Q4 net profit of US$115 million, Shell followed with a Q4 net profit of US$393 million and Total closed out the earning season with industry-beating Q4 net profit of US$1.3 billion, above market expectations.
The softness of the financials hasn’t stopped dividend payouts, but has also been used by Europe’s Big Oil to set the tone for the next few decades of their existence. Total and BP paid a hefty premium to secure rights to build the next generation of UK wind farms; Total joined the Maersk-McKinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping to develop carbon neutral shipping solutions and splashed out on acquiring 2.2 GW of solar power projects in Texas; BP signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Russia’s Rosneft to develop new low carbon solutions; and aircraft carrier KLM took off with the first flight powered by synthetic kerosene that was developed by Shell through carbon dioxide, water and renewables. That’s a lot of a groundwork laid for the future where these giants can be carbon neutral by 2050.
The message from Q4 seems clear. Big Oil has barely begun its recovery from the Covid-19 maelstrom, and the road to a new normal remains long and painful. But this is also an opportunity to pivot; to set a new destination that is no longer business-as-usual, but embraces zero carbon ambitions. Even the American supermajors are slowly coming around, while the European continues to lead. Will majors in Asia, Latin America and Africa/Middle East follow? Let’s see what that attitude will bring over this new decade.
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