5 Tips to Find a Green Job

Edythe RichardsBy EDYTHE RICHARDS, Career Counselor

This article was originally posted on Ms. Richards’ website and is being reposted with permission of the author.

If you love the idea of making the world a cleaner, greener place, keep on reading. If you want to get paid to make the world cleaner and greener, definitely keep reading!

We have limited resources. We’re depending on the future generation to nurture a cleaner, more peaceful and productive world. But the choices we make now are critical to what will be available to us in the future. We need to take advantage of all renewable technologies: solar, wind, wave, tidal, biofuel – that will decrease our reliance on fossil fuels. As our carbon footprint gets larger, governments, businesses, and people are increasingly focused on green practices. Thus, the demand for green jobs continues to grow.

What Makes a Job “Green?”

One of the few bright spots in today’s economy is the growing numbers of green jobs. A green job is one that supports environmental and social responsibility; one that creates renewable energy, improves energy efficiency, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of global warming air pollution.

“Green jobs” is a very broad topic that includes everything from large and small wind power to solar technologies to geothermal, biofuels, and biomass energy. Jobs in these areas include not only solar panel installers, engineers, organic landscapers, and builders, but also holistic health care providers, advocates and educators for social justice and poverty reduction, socially responsible investment advisors, community organizers, project managers, and more. It may even mean applying current skills in accounting, administration, sales, or law and toward a “green” cause.

Narrow Your “Green” Focus

Before starting your journey or investing your time and money into a program of study, think about your career target. This means taking time to look into what jobs are growing, what qualifications are required for those jobs, and most of all, what you’d find most fulfilling.

Competition for good jobs is fierce, but narrowing your focus and taking a few simple steps can put you ahead of the crowd. Check out these 5 tips for scoring a green job:

Tip #1: Self-Assessment. Take some time to reflect on your strengths, skills, and work environments you do best in. Think creatively about how you might translate your interests in the “green economy” into employment. That may mean simply using the skills you already have and applying them to a renewable energy or clean tech company, or it may mean investing in further education. Note: while you don’t have to be an environmental studies major or an engineer to contribute to this very worthy cause, you do need to convey how your background makes you a competitive candidate for your target position and organization(s).

Tip #2: Do your research. The more information you have, the more successful your job-search will be. Once you know the field and/or industry where you’re directing your job-search efforts, research prospective employers to track down real job leads. We know that networking is the best job search strategy… Research will help you know who will make the decision to recommend and hire you. Note: this crucial step will help you tailor your resume, network, and prepare for interviews! Knowing your audience is the first step in building a strategy to connect with them.

Tip #3: “Brand” yourself. Now that you’ve identified your target audience, think about an appropriate message to market yourself. Today’s job market is shifting from a paradigm of both job-seekers and employers using online job boards and Applicant Tracking Systems to employers locating (often passive) prospective candidates through social media and a candidate’s own personal website. Showcase your expertise and passion for the “green arena” where employers can find it easily. Note: having your own website lets you be most in-control of your digital identity, and stand out from the crowd!

Tip #4: Write, revise, and send out your resume (and not just one resume). A poorly-written resume ripe with typos and grammar mistakes can derail an otherwise successful job search. Today’s resumes need to be

  • Accomplishment-driven, with concise but compelling statements focusing on the results of your efforts, using quantifiable data whenever possible. What exactly constitutes an accomplishment? This can vary, depending on the organization and position you’re targeting, but simply put, an accomplishment is an example of how you solved a workplace challenge, and the result of that effort. For example: how much revenue did you generate (or manage or save)? How many people were impacted by your work? By what percentage did you exceed your goals? Hiring managers already understand the duties of the job; they want to know how you are better than other candidates. Accomplishments tailored to your target position/organization can give the employer reason to consider you above others with similar qualifications.
  • Keyword inclusive. Key words and phrases from the job description are necessary to pass through the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). This means that resumes need to be tailored to each job. Yes, this is a cumbersome, time-consuming process, but this effort will improve your chances of landing interviews that you want!

Tip #5: Build, cultivate, and utilize your network. According to the 2015 Jobvite Recruiter Survey, over ¾ of recruiters say their best candidates come through referrals from current employees. This means that as a job seeker, you’re better off placing yourself into your targeted employer’s referral pools. Check out professional organizations related to your target field, free and low-cost networking events in your area, and great resources and tips if you’re in the DC Metro here. It’s not just who you know, but the quality of your relationships that will increase your chances of landing the interview you want.

Finally, note that there’s no mention of responding to excessive numbers of job listings on job boards here. While you should use targeted job boards as part of your job search strategy (for example, Green Jobs Network, Sustainable Business, and ECO.org), many people waste valuable time applying to random positions (using the same generic resume) that may have already been filled. You’re better off using your time for research and networking with like-minded “green” professionals.

Edythe Richards is a Career Counselor, Myers-Briggs® Master Practitioner, and Certified Emotional Intelligence (EQ-i 2.0/EQ-i 360) Administrator based in the Washington, DC Metro. She specializes in helping mid-career adults – including “greenies” – find meaningful work. Special thanks to Janine Finnell and Sam Figuli for their contributions to this article.

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