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Fort McMurray Career Centre

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OPPORTUNITY. OPPORTUNITY BROUGHT MY WIFE AND I to Fort McMurray in early 2006. It was a joint decision for us newly weds to pack up and leave Victoria, B.C., but it was an amazing opportunity for her to advance her career. My wife moved here in January to start her job in the oil sands, and I followed in February. I had no job prospects, but I was happy that Team Youens was moving forward. Looking back, it was the second best decision of my life. We haven’t looked back since.

In my personal Fort McMurray story, I was the “trailing spouse”, and like a lot of couples that decide to take advantage of the economy and job prospects associated with the oil sands, only one of us had a job.

Within the HR world, trailing spouses are nothing new, but they are something we pay attention to. Recruiters who are trying to secure qualified, long-term employees (employees who will also be relocating their spouse and family) know that it is in the best interest of the company to ensure that the successful candidate and their spouse are as happy as possible.

The theory, such that it is, is that a couple or family that is economically secure, one that puts down roots and is engaged in the community, is more likely to provide stable, long-term benefits to the company. Why wouldn’t the employer try to help make that happen?

So without further adieu, here are a few tips to help trailing spouses find employment within their new community.

Five Tips For Trailing Spouse Employment within Fort McMurray

  • Being interviewed? Engage with a resume. If you’ve made the short list and you’re going in for an interview, ask the recruiter beforehand if you can forward an up-to-date resume of your spouse. Ask to see if your spouse might be a good fit for a position in the company. This cannot hurt -- it also shows the recruiter that you (as a couple) are willing to make a significant commitment to their organization.
  • Not a fit? Ask for suggestions. Recruiters are trying to find the best possible matches between the position and the candidate, so there may not be a position for your spouse, but they just might be willing to offer suggestions or even check with other organizations about possible matches. Remember, if you’re the successful candidate, it’s still in their best interest to help you find a good match for your spouse -- even if it’s outside their own organization.
  • Not qualified? Ask for suggestions. If the recruiter cannot think of a good match (internal or external), ask for useful educational or skill enhancements. You might be surprised what a few courses or workshops can do to enhance job prospects.
  • Be realistic (and patient). Just because you know your spouse would make a really great (insert perfect job title here), despite their lack of experience, it may take time and effort to prove that to an employer. Realize that by getting an entry-level position with a large organization, combined with hard work and positive results, the (insert perfect job title here) position can be had.
  • Contact Keyano College. Keyano can truly call itself an essential element to our region. Keyano provides courses and programs tailored specifically to supplying our region with qualified workers. If your spouse is looking for a new career or wishing to upgrade their skills to obtain the perfect job, Keyano can make all the difference.

Matt Youens is a Human Resources Advisor in the oil sands industry,  a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) and has a bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication. Matt and his wife moved to Fort McMurray in 2006 and haven’t looked back since.


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