The way some see it, landing a job in oil-rich North Dakota these days carries only one requirement: a pulse.
It may be true that almost any functioning adult without a long criminal rap sheet can probably land a job in a place where Walmart is offering jobs at $15 an hour and some Dairy Queens close one day a week because they can't fill employee shifts.
But it takes more than just showing up to get a job at an established company in the oil game, like MBI Energy Services.
MBI, which held a two-day recruitment fair at a Rapid City hotel last week, offers good-paying positions that include 100-percent-paid health, dental and vision coverage; a 401K plan; and the opportunity to live in company-owned housing that runs about half the price of rents elsewhere.
MBI was started by two brothers in Belfield, N.D. in 1979 and now has 1,800 employees at 12 locations in four states. The firm came to Rapid with roughly 100 driving positions, eight mechanic jobs and numerous field worker posts to fill.
Prospective MBI employees need to have some key skills and experience in related industries; they must be committed to safety and best practices; and they must prove they are looking for a job for the long-term and not just to make a quick buck and split, said Carter Maynard, MBI vice president of administration.
Those seeking to drive an oil or water truck (with salaries from $18 up to $30 an hour, and possible 70-hour workweeks) need commercial certifications and experience driving in tough conditions and putting on chains numerous times a day in winter.
Diesel mechanics (pay from $18 up to the mid-$20s an hour) must have experience working on engines and a solid knowledge of machinery. And while entry-level field worker jobs (starting at $18 an hour) require fewer skills, even those positions are physically demanding and employees must meet MBI's requirements for conscientiousness and commitment.
"People have to come up here with the attitude that it's a marathon and not a sprint," Maynard said. "If you think you can come up here and make millions right away, it's not going to happen."
And yet, many people have changed their lives quickly and for the better by moving north, said Kayla Klein, an MBI recruiter who helped process applicants at the Comfort Suites hotel on Elk Vale Road last week.
"That's the most rewarding part," Klein said. "Some say they've had nothing and now they do; you don't even realize it but you're changing their lives by giving them a career, and giving them hope and opportunities."
For the right people, those opportunities are many in North Dakota. MBI recruiter Monte Horst said skilled diesel mechanics or certified drivers have the pick of the litter.
"If you have the qualifications we're looking for, and you apply at six firms, you'd probably get six offers," Horst said.
While some new hires commute between Rapid City and the oil fields, MBI Operations Manager Beth Dean said the company encourages families to move up together when possible.
"If you come to work for us, and bring your wife or husband along, there would be a job for them too in North Dakota," she said.
A chance to make more money was what drove John Glover of Rapid City to the recruitment fair last week. Glover, 27, said he makes about $10 an hour now in his job at Timberwest Manufacturing, a pole and fence company in Rapid City.
He was enticed by an entry-level labor job that could nearly double his salary, he said.
"I don't know what I'd be doing, just any kind of manual labor up there," he said. "I have a few friends up there, and it's really good money and that's what I'm looking for."
About 40 job-seekers attended the two-day fair and perhaps half were good prospects for MBI, Klein said. But the company is confident that the Rapid City market will continue to be a good place to hunt for quality workers, she said.
"We have quite a few employees from Rapid and they've done a phenomenal job for us," she said. "They're good workers, from their personalities, to their characters, to their work ethic; they're down-home and easy to get along with."