Despite the recent oil and gas downturn, Houston’s manufacturing industry is still growing and predicted to get even stronger in 2017. Lower gas prices translate to lower energy costs for some manufacturing companies, driving operations expansion and growth. Manufacturing companies that previously focused on producing components for upstream oil and gas – where the biggest job losses were felt – have had to pivot their go-to-market strategy. Companies across the board are seeking experienced job candidates who can integrate digital technology into the factory floor and improve operational efficiencies and supply chain management.

Candidates must demonstrate flexibility during Houston’s job market recovery.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few years: we’re starting to have more job openings than we have qualified candidates. Part of this is a mismatch between the available skill sets and current talent pool. More often than not, I find that qualified candidates are reluctant to consider positions they consider to be “too junior” based on their prior industry experience or consider positions that require a change in job title, duties and functions.

Manufacturing professionals may also pass on jobs with a slightly lower salary in hopes that their “dream job” will come along. The result: this inflexibility can cause job seekers to struggle while searching for their “perfect position.” In some cases, after declining multiple offers, candidates will circle back in six months and wish they’d accepted that initial “not-quite-perfect” offer.

Job hunting in 2017?  Keep these 4 things in mind:

  1. Be realistic about available opportunities.
    Even in a growing economy, the offer you get may look very different from the offer you want– it could have a lower salary, require you to relocate for work, or be in a different manufacturing sector. If you’re unhappy with your current position or not currently employed, being too selective about which offer you take could end up hurting you in the long run. Be open to new opportunities and be realistic about what’s available. The position may not be your dream job but consider the upsides. Maybe you’ll be strengthening a skill set that could make you a more attractive applicant in the future, or you’ll be gaining additional management experience. Keep the bigger picture in mind!
  1. Be flexible.
    I’ve seen highly qualified professionals drain personal savings accounts in order to stay in a specific location– only to end up moving a year later because they still can’t find their “dream job.” If a great offer does come along, be open to relocating. You don’t have to stay in the new location forever. Instead, think of it as a stepping-stone to future opportunities.
  1. Market your skill set.
    Today’s manufacturing jobs require a sophisticated skill set for managing supply chains and optimizing performance. In addition to hiring professionals with skills like LEAN, SIX Sigma, Operations Excellence and Continuous Improvement, manufacturing companies are also looking for job seekers who are fast learners and confident decision makers. Hiring managers are looking for employees who are computer-savvy and capable of managing enterprise network data.

Don’t just list these skill sets on your resume– quantify and contextualize your previous accomplishments. How did your background in operations excellence streamline production and save the company money? How did these cost savings compare with other industry benchmarks? How did you contributions impact company metrics or KPIs? Connect the dots for hiring managers so it’s easy for them to see the value you’ll bring to their companies.

  1. Maximize your networking potential.
    Successful job candidates are those who are willing to step outside their comfort zones and market themselves daily. Reconnect with past colleagues in the Greater Houston area using LinkedIn and OilPro. Introduce yourself to decision makers and human resource professionals at networking events and industry conferences. Be proactive with follow-up calls and emails– your next career opportunity could be within their network!


If you’re struggling to land an interview, consider working with an executive recruiter. An executive recruiter will review your resume, coach you through the search process, and provide a valuable, big-picture perspective for job offers.


Questions about Houston’s manufacturing job market? Contact me at to learn more.