Archive for June 24, 2009

Trying to Learn from Constructive Criticism

Penned by Nick

Over the past few weeks, we’ve received thoughtful, pointed, and critical feedback on how Bright Green Talent operates.

It’s been welcomed, despite the toughness of its tone, because we believe that ultimately we must be held accountable for our actions. We must also learn from them.

Today, we circulated a note to clients that was part information-sharing, part promotion. The note summarized a few key statistics from a recent (informal) poll we conducted last week of 450 green job seekers. After receiving the note, one recipient responded:

“You do not know how to interpret the numbers. I understand you are pushing your business, but your are absolutely wrong in your understanding.”

On some levels, the numbers are unbelievable: 50% unemployment amongst highly educated, skilled employees?!

Though difficult to swallow, I trust the integrity of the numbers. I also believe they are understandable — more people are unemployed than in recent memory, and they represent a portion of the population that’s rarely been represented by the unemployed ranks: lawyers, engineers, accountants and financiers.

At Bright Green Talent, we’re trying to understand the problem (systemic problems that range from corporate governance to climate change) and be part of the solution (transitioning people to green jobs). Our primary short-term goal is to enable a broad, inclusive transition to a green economy. As I’ve noted before, it means we’ll continue to please some people all of the time–certainly not all all the time.

Our business model is consequently morphing to focus on the sectors of greatest need. Engineers are in high demand nowadays. Entry-level (carpenters, journeyman), mid-level (civil and mechanical engineers), and high level (VP of Engineering) jobs exist across the sectors of clean energy, energy efficiency, & sustainable transport. These are quickly become focus areas for Bright Green Talent, meaning that some of our candidates have also felt equally misunderstood recently.

One candidate responded to a monthly newsletter with the following well-written, incisive comment:

“I would be better off not listening to your–what come to be perceived as spam–messages advertising your services–there hasn’t been a back and fourth–I gave you valuable information and my cv and you gave me spam. Not right, and not probably the empowerment angle you were hoping for initially or as your goals for BGT.”

Absolutely right. I approved the message we last sent to our candidates. We did receive many positive notes, but this one stuck with me longest. “Have we lost our way?”

For the past 18 months I’ve watched a young, idealistic team come together to become a battle-hardened, committed recruiting machine that’s empowering people and placing people in green jobs–despite the unemployment statistics.

I continue to believe that we’re part of the solution at Bright Green Talent.

That talent surrounds us everywhere is clear–these people are our daily inspiration. But we cannot be all things to all people. As we transition people into green jobs, so too do we change the organization itself.

Recruiting has not traditionally been the most ethical or easy of careers. But when done ethically and intentionally, it is a meaningful one.

We’ll continue to pursue meaning in our work at Bright Green Talent. We’ll continue to be honest, transparent, and hear all points of view. We’ll also continue to follow our internal compasses and do what we believe is right. It’s not easy. We may fail. But if we do, let there be no misunderstanding: we’ll fail while fighting what we believe to the good fight.

Our credibility is our currency–please do keep us honest, and help us help you as we move forward together.

June 24, 2009 at 4:05 am 1 comment


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