Archive for March, 2009
Penned by Christina
You may have noticed that we recently added a tag line on to our job descriptions, along the lines of “1% of the proceeds from this search will be reinvested in Solar Richmond, our non-profit partner.” While we’re glad to be able to financially support SR’s work (you should check out their site and learn about their amazing model), we are also committed to finding other ways to share our resources and knowledge of the green jobs space with our new partner.
So, on Friday, Nick and I went over to Solar Richmond to do just that. We conducted and recorded mock interviews with students of the program that will be utilized as training materials for future classes. Afterward, we also got the chance to see a live installation project where Solar Richmond had partnered with Grid Alternatives.
Our partnership with Solar Richmond in and of itself represents a sort-of culmination of a lot of concepts for me. Back in 2005 when I first discovered Van Jones, it felt like he was the only one out there trumpeting the ideas that our social issues are intricately connected to our environmental ones. I spent three years in grad school trying to connect those ideas in an academic context (which totally worked), but it has always been difficult to find the application of these ideas in a real-world context. It was amazing for me to actually experience and really feel the dual focus that Solar Richmond places on teaching the technical skills necessary for their students to succeed coupled with “fuzzier” concepts like personal accountability, empowerment, teamwork and community. Witnessing this model succeed literally brought me to tears.
Being able to apply the work I do through BGT’s green career coaching to this partnership was truly a moving experience and I thank Solar Richmond for letting us be a part of their amazing vision!
Photo: Me with Angie of Solar Richmond at the installation
An article I wrote for Sublime Magazine was just published in their latest issue. Yes, the text is tiny in the PDF, so here it is:
It jars my entrepreneurial instincts to listen too closely to the chorus of voices diving in to comment on the woes of the economic crisis. The entrepreneur’s nature is to rise above the fray, to spot opportunity where others see problems and to rail against the norm. As soon as you become another negative voice, we presume, you lose what is uniquely yours – creativity, resilience and possibility.
But entrepreneurs should learn to engage and listen, because somewhere amidst the din lie the answers: both to questions that we find ourselves asking at this time, and those that we are currently being bombarded with – namely, what next for the environmental movement and therefore where is the opportunity for my company, Bright Green Talent, working to help people find green jobs?
A year ago, nothing could stop the green movement from its surge into the hearts and minds of the corporate and political world. Today its impact is somewhat precarious. Many, hanging on Barack Obama’s every word, believe that the environmental problems we face, particularly energy security and climate change, might help form part of the solution to our economic crisis. Yet what currently remains rhetoric for the future, no matter how promising, does little to bring confidence to those affected in the here and now. No one expected a quick-fix cure-all, no matter how clever the people or dynamic the administration.
Many others, understandably, believe that new pressures displace old and that there is little room for longer-term concerns about the environment whilst the problems rage around us. It’s easy, they say, for the Davosians to private-jet in and head-scratch together, but what about those that have lost their livelihoods, their houses or their pensions? Why should they worry about carbon offsetting, recycling or renewable energies when they can’t afford to fly or even to feed their families, or when oil and gas are cheaper than the alternatives?
Within the environmental labour market, Bright Green Talent has seen both sides of the argument play out: Fewer companies are hiring and non-essential operations are being scaled back. Organisations are trying to do more with less. Some are letting people go, many have hiring freezes that are suspending their growth. Yet environmental professionals were often stretched to begin with, and most organisations are unwilling to backtrack on their corporate responsibility or sustainability agendas for fear that it might provoke further declines in their fortunes, given that strong environmental sentiment remains. Certainly, the concept of sustainability is not likely to be abandoned in the eyes of the consumer if all other things (especially price) remain equal. Other organisations, of all sizes in both affected and unaffected sectors, remain committed to their environmental plans and are still hiring. The bravest, albeit few, are scaling up, not down: they realise that this is a unique opportunity to secure top talent, or believe that the environmental sector will be a greater opportunity and differentiator as we roll forward.
In addition, tight times also provoke creative thinking, efficiency and alternative approaches. We’ve been heartened to see organisations use the economic crisis as a trigger to make environmental changes, particularly under the auspices of saving money; many realise that reducing flying, using less energy, reducing waste and improving efficiency are some of a number of activities that bring symbiotic benefit to both crises. We’ve seen organisations spending money on green consultants in the knowledge that they can get many times their money back through cost-saving, environmentally-friendly improvements.
From the perspective of jobseekers, interesting changes are also afoot: from the good, bad to downright ugly. Certainly these are some of the most testing times our generation has faced, but there is still great hope in the environmental sector. We started Bright Green Talent because we believe that more and more people want to find fulfilling jobs that make a difference. We believe that people are the most important element in the move towards ensuring a brighter, greener future – and by finding or even creating jobs, we would help stimulate that move. The good news is that people want those jobs more than ever before. The number and ferocity of the voices that we hear on a daily basis reflect the demand, sentiment, excitement, as well as desperation within the job market. It seems that every ex-investment banker has long been dreaming of a worthwhile career; that a new tsunami of unemployed, or those looking to move careers, are focused on finding a dream, green job. All of this puts Bright Green Talent in a unique position to help make these links and train and ensure candidates have the best chance of finding a job as these opportunities increase within the market.
So stand back and listen closely to the voices that affect you… you’ll hear the subtle sounds of a renaissance building, of hope and promise. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but by engaging and by supporting this sentiment, it seems that the collective crises we face are conquerable. And for those that have the humility and foresight to start now and to listen and learn from the opportunities that present themselves, bright green pastures lie ahead.
Last week we officially launched our green career coaching service. I’ve often longed to play “High School Guidance Counselor” to help people find their dream green job and now have the chance. It is an amazing opportunity to be able to talk to people about where they have come from and where they want to go. From the feedback we have received, people feel that we are providing valuable insight specifically to the answer of, “What should I do now?” Just as we suspected, many of you are simply overwhelmed by the job search since there are so many seemingly conflicting priorities, none of which necessarily lead to the end goal. We look forward to being here to answer that question for each and every one of you in some form or another. And as things move onward (and hopefully upward) in the economy, we will of course try to help as many of you as possible to land in your DGJ (dream green job)!!
P.S. Get on LinkedIn! I was surprised to learn how many people are still not on there…it is a tool that if utilized strategically, can really help. A few us here at BGT recently met George Kao who conducts free teleseminars on this very topic!
Penned by Carolyn
As this is posted, I’m off for a week in Colorado, enjoying the end of ski season up in the mountains. I know you’re on the edge of your seats waiting for the continuation of Bright Green Resume Boot Camp, but another temporally-relevant subject is on my mind this week as students are off sipping (chugging?) tequila drinks on spring break.
So, this week’s subject? Keeping your personal life separate from your job application process; or “how to keep the 457 photos your friends posted on Facebook of you blacked out in a club in Cabo from surfacing as you’re applying for a job in the real world.”
I’m one of those people who’s generally disgruntled about how connected we all are and how much information is out there (yes, ironic given that I work on a lot of Bright Green Talent’s social media). However, if you just can’t step away from your iPhone, Facebook, MySpace, etc, here’s a common sense checklist for cleaning up your image.
- First off, fix your Facebook privacy settings to keep people from being able to find you.
- And control who can see your photos.
- And consider – as hilarious as they are, how many photos of you with a drink in your hand do you really need? Detag where necessary.
- Are any of your groups incriminating?
- All that stuff we said about professional networking? Keep it separate from Facebook. Avoid “friending” professional contacts – people you might ask for a reference from, your aunt’s friend who has connections with a green marketing company you’re interested in, etc. Use LinkedIn for that.
On the interwebs:
- Google yourself: look for news, web hits, and images.
- Check on YouTube for embarrassing videos that your friends uploaded.
- Check Flickr and other public image hosting sites as well.
- If there’s anything incriminating up there, try to get it removed, or at least have an explanation prepared.
While I’m still trying to wrap my head around Twitter and why people need to know/care what I’m doing every 4 minutes, there are lots of reasons to tweet, but do be aware that it is, in fact, public.
- If need be, create one “professional” twitter account that makes you look studious and mature, and another where you can tweet things like “omg SO hungover for interview this morning; hope they didn’t notice”
- Ever notice how random people you emailed once show up on your chat list? Yeah, you show up on theirs too. Careful with your gmail status.
Hope I didn’t ruin your spring break… have eco-friendly fun, and enjoy the time off before you get back to the grind of jobsearching.
Oh, and looking for a cool summer gig?
Check out these opportunities to take charge on a green project:
http://www.green.dc.gov/green/cwp/view,a,1233,q,461478.asp (Washington, D.C.)
Penned by Nick
Earlier this week, we partnered with Wal-Mart to find them a Sustainability Manager for their China operation. Despite their efforts to improve their environmental practices, many folks still view Wal-Mart as guilty and negligent:
“Before Wal-Mart Hires a Sustainability Manager, they need a Morality Manager to assure that their painted toys do not contain lead, that their milk does not contain toxins, and other crimes that we are not aware of. After they make significant progress in this area and their environment is not held hostage along with their sweat shop workers are treated with respect, then we can address sustainability issues.”
The quote above came from an individual who’s sincerely concerned about corporate practices, and whether or implied or otherwise, this quote strikes at the core of what we do at Bright Green Talent.
At Bright Green Talent, our credibility is our currency. To the extent we work with organizations who have questionable environmental or ethical practices, we risk tarnishing our own reputation.
“Reputational risk” is often overlooked and hugely under-apppreciated. Living up to Wal-Mart’s sustainability standards means we have to raise our bar — if we’re going to represent them and find them the greenest of employees, we need to be better recruiters ourselves.
I always joke that I love my job so much because it makes me be a better person. In the professional context, my personal life is just as much part of the story as anything else. And so, when we work with someone like Wal-Mart, it’s not because they are the most green of all employers (though they are up there), but because we believe in the vision they’re pursuing. Removing lead from toys and toxins from milks is what this relationship is about.
Casting stones is no way to engage people in the environmental dialogue — whether it be personally or professionally. If we’re going to talk, lets talk about how to make it better and be part of the solution, and in the process, keep everyone’s reputation intact.
penned by Matt
My name is Matt and I’m a green career transition-er.
I have been working with the fun, ambitious and extremely intelligent crew over here at Bright Green Talent for just over a month now as “A Computer Whiz Kid/Internet Guru” fellow (cooler name for intern) working on their internet marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization, for those new to the term).
Well, actually, I also have an internship at a Sustainability Consulting Firm (www.sustainabilityconsulting.com). So, I am working two internships simultaneously as well as working occasionally in my previous job as a commercial photographer – a very busy schedule indeed!
Despite feeling like I am spreading myself a bit thin at times, I feel like I am completely on the right track as I have finally found a sector where I feel like I can make a difference. Yay for green jobs!
So what has my path been so far?
I graduated UCLA about 10 years ago with a degree in Int’l Economics with my sights focused on investment banking. In one I-banking interview I was asked what my idea of “success” was and after a reflective pause, I replied: “To make a lot of money?” (thinking that was the response that they were looking for). That’s when I realized that my heart was clearly not in finance. I was too young to know what I wanted and thought that’s what they wanted to hear. Bad idea.
I then went on to work for British Petroleum (or, Beyond Petroleum as they are now called), following in my father’s footsteps (he worked in oil exploration for most of his career). It has definitely helped my resume to have worked at a large company like this. This corporate experience has been crucial to my skillset, giving me some great business skills.
Being a photography enthusiast, I then went on to start my own business as a freelance photographer (see my arty photos at www.matthewsavage.com) working for advertising and editorial clients. This developed some of my marketing skills and made me persistent and resourceful. Being able to problem solve is something everyone should work on.
“Jack of all trades, master of none”? Well, for me I think this broad range of experience has been an asset. I can pull from lots of life experience on a range of different problems.
Here are my quick tips for you green career transition –ers:
- Getting informed, but get focused. Once I decided that I wanted to make this move, I read as much as I could on everything and anything “green”. Since I am interested in Clean Tech, I read “The Clean Tech Revolution” by Clint Wilder and Ron Pernick – a great overview of the tech side of the green industry (highly recommended). However, once you have a good handle on the big picture, try to focus on one specific area of focus. Informational interviews are a great way to gather information, meet new people, and find out more about a particular job role.
- Networking, networking, networking! The sooner you learn this skill, the better. When I decided that I wanted to “go green” I started attending all sorts of networking events and got lots of cards, entering all contacts into my personal address book. Leverage LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) to find people that you might want to meet or work with. I kept bumping into Christina at tons of networking events, including Green Drinks (www.greendrinks.org), to the point where it ended up being ridiculous if we DIDN’T work together.
- Develop your personal brand. Create a blog for you own voice. Use social networks wisely to engage your friends and colleagues. How will people talk about you and describe you in one sentence? Consider it like a company tag line, like: “Matt is the guy we can rely on for blank”.
- Get a new – and specific – skillset. You might want to take a class on something. I took a series of night classes all summer on Integrated Marketing. When I got the chance to use this newfound knowledge at Bright Green Talent, I jumped at the opportunity.
- Get involved. Engage with your contacts and get involved in events. I submitted photos to BGT’s photo competition. Get out there and do stuff so people can see you!
- Love what you do, but also and maybe more importantly, love who you work with! I am enjoying my time at BGT because the people here are young, smart, and fun. Remember how important that will be in your long-term career…
I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if any of you career transition people need some specific advice. I am happy to share my knowledge.
P.S. Bright Green Talent is hiring two new interns! Go for it!
Penned by Tom
According to my dictionary, the word ‘twit’ means a silly or foolish person. Is the current rush to Twitter a great drive towards April 1st, where we’ll all be declared fooled, or is there real value out there for the wise that are looking to get into a green job?
I’ve certainly been interested to dive in and you can follow my posts here – twitter.com/brightgreen. It also feels good – to mix fun and pierce the sometimes overly-formal veil that lies between a company’s public image and the people that work within. Yes, stop the press, we here at Bright Green Talent find people meaningful careers, but we also have tipsy evenings, days of despair, and laugh… (a lot and very loudly in the case of Christina). We want to be able to share these moments too, to prove that it’s not all work and no play, as well as reward people with more up-to-date action and reaction from Bright Green Towers.
But onto twitutility – there are some useful ways to use twitter to help you find a green job, or research a green career. Here’s my list, in a lot more than 140 characters:
- Find out if your future employer twitters. Use this as a method of doing your research and enabling you to go into interview, or to pitch to that person/company with a better idea of what they like/don’t like.
- If you have a big enough following, ask people questions about your resume, your interview technique, or anything you want quick answers to. Use your followers to do research and get reactions.
- Use the searches. Although unrelated, the best way my friend in Madagascar could keep up with the crisis there was to check Twitter rather than the news (which was always too slow). Beat the rush by searching for green jobs, or using some of the # (hashtags) to find out what’s going on. You might find out about opportunities before others if you’re on the ball. By way of example, we launched a new job search for Wal-Mart which we tweeted about first today.
- Follow those specifically targeted at green jobs, or other categories that fit your needs. e.g. greenjob, Green Jobs in the USA, Green Jobs.
- If you’re twittering, be sure that a future employer can’t follow your posts about your communist past, love of beer or flirtation with illegal substances. Recruiters will start to use twitter more and more to do a check on someone.
- Be careful, you can screw up.
- Use it as one of a number of tools, but don’t go overboard. Having 20k followers isn’t necessarily going to result in your getting a job. At some point you have to drop the keyboard and get stuck in. There’s nothing like face-to-face time.
Penned by Christina
As applicants feel more and more desperate in applying to jobs, the old adage about quality over quantity holds truer than ever. As you job search, consider that it is better to narrow your search to those positions that you are really interested AND those that you are actually qualified for.
These days, most positions are being filled with those that hit all the requirements and then some. I most certainly believe in aiming high and definitely don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but being realistic about positions in the current job market will save you effort and should better your chances of getting the positions that you do apply for.
Consider a couple points to keep in mind as you’re searching:
- Do you fit the job description? If the job description lists 3-5 years experience of Smart Grid technology as a requirement and you are just graduating from undergrad, that is likely not a good match for you and by applying you may come across as lacking judgment. (Certainly, an unfortunate biproduct.)
- If you do fit, make it obvious! Trying to match your background to the requirements shouldn’t be a game of memory for the hiring manager. The less work you create for him, the better the chances that your resume will be read closely. Mapping your skills to the job requirements is important – see Raj’s previous post. You can do this well by really understanding what the position entails which yes, will require research, networking, etc.
- Keep cover letters short and applicable. Again, this is a great place to highlight specifically how your background matches the requirements to be successful in the position, but if it’s too long, the reader will skim and value will be lost.
Next week: how to narrow and maximize your networking.
If you want to learn more about this in a personalized career coaching session, let us know – we’d be happy to help!
Happy St. Patty’s Day – our favorite Bright Green holiday. If you’re celebrating, follow Tom’s example and be safe and be green!
Penned by Carolyn
Last week, in the first installation of Bright Green Talent’s Resume Boot Camp, I discussed some general tactics for not having your resume immediately thrown out.
Before I get started on formatting and other juicy resume advice, let me just give a plug for Bright Green Talent’s newly unveiled career counseling and resume services. We try to give catch-all advice on the blog, but everyone has their own unique issues and getting personalized advice can make all the difference.
So, as for formatting:
- Rule #1 – Simplicity reigns. We receive resumes all the time that look like they were composed in Kid Pix – colors everywhere, different fonts, clip art… scrap all of that. The flashiest your resume should get is bold type on the schools you attended and the titles of positions you’ve held.
- Rule #2 – Do not succumb to the desire to have columns in your resume. I don’t know from whence said desire comes, but it makes the resume visually confusing and a lot of automated applicant tracking systems will mangle all your information as they upload your resume.
- Rule #3 – As lovely/mature/handsome you might look in photos, please don’t include any in your resume. Nick, our Managing Partner, sums it up as such: “It distracts from your accomplishments and oftentimes lowers recruiter’s opinion (makes it seem like you’re relying on your good looks, or are over-confident).”
- Rule #4 – And while we’re on the subject of visuals, let us touch upon video resumes… basically, we’ve yet to see one done well. In the future, they might become the norm (for instance, keep an eye on Visual CV) – but for now, it seems like the flashiness and entertainment value are covering up weak experience or some other shortcoming.
- Rule #5 – Don’t make any of your resume too text-heavy. Bullet points are a great way to go — they make your resume seem digestible at a glance, which will in turn increase the likelihood of someone reading through the whole thing. Plus, it’ll make you avoid rambling and vagaries, which there’s no room for in a one-page resume.
Rules 6 and beyond to come next week. Stay tuned! For advice in the meantime, find us twittering away.