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THE QUESTION

I'm 37 years old, married, and the father of two young boys.

I'm a logistics supervisor working in the oil and gas industry. I intend to immigrate with my family to Alberta, but I don't know where to start.

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I've been told that the fastest way to achieve my goal is to find a potential employer who would like to offer me a job. Can you assist me?

THE ANSWER

The advice I would provide for this question a year ago is much different than the advice I would provide today. The contributing factor is timing.

The price of oil has taken a steep drop lately and many analysts believe it is going to decline further before it recovers. This has had a significant negative impact on the oil and gas industry in Alberta, which is the largest employment sector in the province. Many companies have announced dramatic spending cuts and thousands of employees have been let go, and according to more recent company announcements, the cuts will continue. Right now, there are lots of oil and gas employees looking for work in Alberta – ones who already have connections and experience in the province.

This may change your intention to move to Alberta right now.

To answer your question, I do not know whether you are immigrating to Alberta from another province or another country altogether. Regardless, before you consider a permanent move, I would suggest you go to Alberta without your family to test the waters for a couple of weeks.

Meet with as many employers as you can for information interviews and see whether there may be opportunities for you now or in the future. And despite the employment upheaval in the oil sands, a crucial factor will be whether there is still demand for your specific area of work and expertise.

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As is the case in many industries, contacts and referrals from other employees already working in the field is key, so use your network to get you in front of as many people in Alberta as possible. Find out if now is the right time to make a serious move, or whether it is best to wait out the market until the price of oil goes up and employers are more comfortable hiring again.

If your profession has been significantly affected by the drop in oil prices, bear in mind the competition will be intense for whatever employment opportunities or contracts do exist. That is not to say that securing a job in Alberta isn't possible, but having many strong contacts in the oil and gas industry will likely make a huge difference in getting your foot in the door.

Listen to what contacts and employers have to say and then decide whether moving to Alberta without secured employment is best done now, or later when the market has recovered from the current volatility and is stronger.

Eileen Dooley is vice-president of Calgary-based career management, transition and consulting firm Gilker McRae.

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