Geoscience Employment and the Great Resignation









The pandemic has created enormous shifts in the economy and the labor market. Large segments of work have shifted to happen remotely, some sectors of the economy shrank or shut down completely, people have moved, fast-tracked their retirement, took a sabbatical or changed careers.

In 2020 and 2021, 3.3 million Americans retired, far more than normal demographic trends would have predicted had the pandemic not occurred. Add to that the fact that about 75 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021, and you get a sense of just how much volatility there is in the labor market right now.

As an employer, you may be struggling with hiring and retention issues as demand for work has ramped back up. If you are an employee, you may be struggling with an increased workload or contemplating whether to make a move to a different position.

For Employees and Job Seekers:

There is a lot of mobility in the current employment market and qualified applicants are in an excellent position. In mid-2021, between 25 and 33% of geoscience employers reported that recruiting qualified talent was their biggest challenge. Field work experience as well as proficiency in data visualization, mapping and virtual platforms were skills in particularly high demand.

Resume vs CV

One of the key ways to present yourself to potential employers is to prepare a resume. There is a difference between a resume and a CV (short for the latin phrase ‘Curriculum Vitae’). The CV presents a full history of your academic credentials, so the length of the document is variable. In contrast, a resume presents a concise picture of your skills and qualifications for a specific position, so length tends to be shorter and dictated by years of experience. There are many websites that provide guidance and templates for preparing either a CV or a resume. The most important thing to remember is that as geologists we convey concepts via both maps and imagery as well as the written word. Attempt to show via your CV writing skills how you articulate complex geologic concepts or research if appropriate. This is most important for mid or advance career professionals.

Be proactive.

Now is a great time to renegotiate your position or advance your career by moving up into a recently vacated opening. If you have been tasked with extra responsibilities or a heavier workload, it is completely appropriate to request a meeting to ask for more compensation, time off, benefits or a bonus.

Do your research.

Go into any negotiation or interview armed with as much information as possible. Use a free service like the salary search on to compare your current or proposed salary with the average salary for similar positions with other companies and competitors in your industry. Determine how much various benefit packages are worth to you and calculate that into your bottom line when determining salary requirements.

Know what you want.

Is a higher salary a must-have, or is working remotely actually more important to you? Don’t sit back and let your employer or interviewer dictate all the terms. Know what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for it. The worst they can say is no, and they might actually be open to your requests.

If you are willing to negotiate on salary in exchange for more flexible hours, access to a company car, paid training, more vacation time, stock options or other perks, be sure to have in mind what these various incentives are worth to you. If the salary offered is below expectations, or if a hybrid remote/in-person work schedule is important to you and it is not currently on the table, you can counter with your own offer requesting certain perks in substitution for more money.

If you are dissatisfied with your current company or position, there may never be a better time than now to make a move. Visit the AEG Jobs Board to start your search!

Tips for employers:

Be prepared to offer remote or hybrid work options.

Employees got a taste for the freedom and flexibility afforded by working from home plus the elimination of long commutes, child care and more. Many are unwilling to go back to five days a week in the office. If a position does not lend itself to being remote, you might be able to work out a partially-remote compromise for one or two days a week of remote work. Any flexibility you can offer will give you a competitive hiring edge. And it can even improve your bottom line as many employees are willing to trade higher incomes for more flexible work.

Provide opportunities for growth.

Classes, training and mentorships can all be ways that you show your commitment to helping your staff advance professionally. Many employers often have a need for someone to fulfill a role and so they grab anyone available on staff to handle it, regardless of whether that employee is a good fit for the role. Use interviews and employee reviews as a time to determine what your staff’s own goals are and what you can do to help them get there.

Foster a team spirit.

Businesses that treat employees as more than cogs in a machine are businesses that have high employee retention. And with the move to more and more remote workers, creating a corporate culture is becoming more difficult and will require intentional effort. But even if all your staff work in one centralized location, staff cohesiveness can still probably use a boost. If you have a lot of remote workers, you may have to get a bit more creative with employee events and team-building exercises, but it can be done.

While it is difficult to completely predict what the future holds in regards to the pandemic, it is likely that these upheavals in the labor market are a short-term issue and will stabilize over the next year or two. The job outlook for employment in the geosciences continues to look positive.

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