Posts tagged ‘recession’
Penned by Carolyn
Watching this one minute video review of the energy bill in the House, one word resonates again and again: jobs. The potential for job creation in moving towards a clean energy future has become a rallying cry for proponents of the Waxman-Markey Bill — because who can argue with job creation when unemployment has officially hit 9.5% nationally?
In the past couple weeks, the Labor Department announced $500 million in grants for green jobs training programs. States and cities have also started to distribute stimulus dollars for training programs. If you’re interested in who’s getting funding and how, sign up for updates from Green for All — they’ve been giving a number of conference calls to keep folks in the loop and share information nationally about training programs. Most of the money that’s being doled out focuses on helping blue-collar workers transition into the green economy — providing “pathways out of poverty” as the nation undergoes energy retrofits, solar system installation, and more.
But some concerns remain. Yesterday, the New York Times brought into question the effectiveness of retraining programs in giving trainees a leg up in the job search. As the Times wrote, “a little-noticed study the Labor Department released several months ago found that the benefits of the biggest federal job training program were ‘small or nonexistent’ for laid-off workers. It showed little difference in earnings and the chances of being rehired between laid-off people who had been retrained and those who had not.”
Hopefully, the green jobs training programs will avoid the pitfalls that have led to the concerns raised by the NYT article, and will lend a hand to folks from all backgrounds and work histories — we hear from a lot of people who are looking to transfer technical skill sets and haven’t yet found a clear pathway in helping them do so. We have to believe that, with all the energy and enthusiasm focused on the green sector right now, there couldn’t be a better moment for these programs to succeed in training the next generation of environmental leaders.
To that end, we’ll continue to provide advice and resources to our jobseekers (keep an eye out for Bright Green Seminars starting in the next couple months), and we’ll support our partner Solar Richmond as they seek stimulus funding to support their amazing solar installation training program.
Stay tuned… more exciting developments are surely on the way.
Penned by Carolyn
As companies have emerged from recession-induced hibernation, shaken off hiring freezes, and started to cautiously advertise job openings again, they’ve found an entirely different landscape than when they did their last round of recruiting.
Jobseekers who’ve been haunting job boards for months have started to dive on any vacancy that they come across. Companies are seeing floods of barely-if-at-all qualified resumes come through and have found themselves trying to tackle the hiring process when they’re still hesitant about hiring, understaffed in their HR and other departments, and with vastly reduced recruiting budgets.
We speak with hundreds of candidates each week who’ve been on the other side of this stunted hiring process — most have sent in a resume and never heard back, and a few have made it through up to 8 rounds of interviews before the company decides they’re not ready to hire.
Here are a few symptoms and solutions for making the hiring process run more smoothly in this economy, and for ensuring that bridges aren’t burned between high-quality candidates who might still be interested in a company when the economy picks up.
1. The Mountain of Resumes
The problem: Companies are getting swamped with resumes every time a job is posted. Jobseekers whose background is totally irrelevant to the job description are sending in resumes because they’re desperate and “it’s worth a shot.”
The outcome: Increased time spent on reading through resumes, decreased percentage of quality applicants, and a strain on those in charge of the hiring process (HR and recruiters). Those who are high-quality, relevant candidates are wondering why they’re never contacted and start to form negative perceptions of the company. More people call up demanding to know what’s happened to their resume. Lots of time and energy is wasted.
- Write a tighter job description that gets into the nitty-gritty specifics of what a candidate has to have done (not “could do”) in order to qualify for an interview. Some applicant tracking systems allow you to create these applications online and will sort the responses according to whether the job seeker fits your description — this will automatically sort the “best fits” to the top where you can read them and get back to them promptly.
- Require more documents for your application — such as a cover letter, two writing samples and a resume, or a couple mini-essay questions built into your website application. Creating a slightly higher bar will make jobseekers reconsider as they
“spam” out their resume — and as people are asked to communicate why they’re a good fit for the specific job, they’ll make your determination easier as you read through their application.
- Encourage employees to use their networks to get referrals. A lot of companies are hiring quietly right now without posting a public job description simply due to lack of time and money to put towards a full-blown process.
- Hire a third-party recruiter to read through all the resumes and present you with the strongest fits.
2. The Lack of Communication
The problem: We often joke with our candidates that applying for jobs online seems like dropping a resume into a black hole — unfortunately, this joke has lost some humor in recent months as the majority of our candidates say they have 10+ applications out that they’ve never heard any indication on.
The outcome: Again, bitterness. Candidates pin the unresponsive company as lacking humanity or basic etiquette and spread that impression. Won’t apply for positions in the future because they feel like their application is falling on deaf ears.
- Reject people, early and often. After meeting lots of folks who’ve told us they applied online for one of our positions and never heard back, we’ve started a strict policy of rejection when we don’t see a fit for a role. We go through every few weeks or month and shoot a batch note to the candidates we’ve reviewed and deemed not a fit to let them know that their qualifications aren’t quite right. You wouldn’t believe how appreciative people are to just know what their status is — they often thank us for rejecting them. If they’re talented and just not right for this role, they’re more likely to keep applying for other positions because they know it’s a dialogue and not a black hole.
- If you don’t want to send a note every few weeks, at least send a blast to all applicants when the position has been filled to close the loop.
- For less personalized updates, have your CEO or someone in the company write the occasional blog post on the state of the hiring process, whatever it may be — still looking, reviewing applications, rethinking the role.
3. Dragging Out the Hiring Process
The problem: Candidates are telling us that they’ve been through 5, 6, 7 rounds of interviews with an organization before being told they’re not the right fit — or worse, a couple have simply just never heard back from the company after such extended dialogue.
The outcome: We know that companies are unsure of budgets and anxious to actually take a step towards growing out their teams, but the risks of these messy processes are serious.
Candidates get very emotionally tied up in the prospect of potentially getting an offer, and the more they get to know everyone in the office, they more angry and hurt they are when after several months of interviewing, they’re turned down or told the company has decided not to fill the position. Your champions – people so passionate about your company that they wanted to work for you – may now perceive your company as disorganized and unclear on goals. Word from the disenchanted interviewee spreads, and the negative effects on brand can be serious. You may also inadvertently lose great candidates because you can’t get your act together – and it will take time and resources to woo them back after they’ have a bad experience.
- Figure out if you are in a place to hire. Then check twice. Do you have the money for salary? Is it a priority for the company, or do you just want to see who’s out there?
- Sit down with your team ahead of time and carefully design the metrics against which you’ll measure candidates. Clearly define the hiring process- who candidates will talk to, for how long, in what context, and in what order. Set deadlines, and do your best to meet them.
Penned by Carolyn
We recently surveyed 430 jobseekers who are interested in moving into the green sector. A couple of the statistics from our results stand out:
- 50% of respondents are currently unemployed
- 61% have a Master’s or PhD
- 40% have an annual income higher than $80k; 24% have an annual income higher than $101k
- 83% have previous experience or some training/experience that would be relevant to a green company
- 69% say one of the strongest barriers to getting into the green sector is the lack of available jobs
- 41% say lack of proper training is a barrier to entry
With all the talk about green collar workers (blue collar jobs in the green economy) and the stimulus money that has been allocated to green workforce development, little attention has been paid to the demographic in this survey: highly-qualified, well-educated people that are willing and ready to move into the green sector.
So what’s the hold up? What are the challenges they’re facing as they try to channel their skills and background towards the green sector? Beyond the 69% who say there just aren’t enough green jobs (because, realistically, there aren’t enough of any kind of job right now, with unemployment rates at over 9% nationally), 41% of our respondents said they don’t have the proper training and 33% said they just don’t know where to look.
What this illuminates is a basic need for training programs and clear direction for jobseekers on how and where to find green jobs. In fact, this only reinforces our own anecdotal understanding of the state of affairs — people come to us every day just wondering how they can get into a sector that’s seeming daily more and more like a mirage. Of late, there’s more frustration in their voices, and people are wondering if all these green jobs evangelists are really just snakeoil salesmen.
But after two years in this space, we remain confident that the jobs are not an illusion — if they were, we’d pack up shop and head elsewhere rather than leading people on. The immense sense of hope and optimism hung upon green jobs was multiplied exponentially by the state of the economy and soaring unemployment rates. Yes, the sector is still growing even despite the economy (confirmed by a recent Pew report) and green companies are hiring, but not at a rate that can keep pace with the demand created from hundreds of thousands of people that have suddenly flooded into the sector.
The take-aways? Our same old line: there might not be a green job for you right now, but in 6 months or a year, when the dust settles from the economic collapse, there will be. The stepping stone in between, and how you’ll succeed in separating yourself from the crowd when that time comes, is training and preparation.
We’re not saying you’re not willing — over 30% of respondents said they’d take a week for training in greenhouse gas accounting or energy audits, and another 30% said they’d take a month. Most were ready to put up somewhere between $100-$1000 for the training.
Bright Green Talent and some of our partners are working on creating and facilitating training to help you get on the right path. In the meantime, there are lots of great resources to help you learn and network as we all ride out the storm. Hang in there — opportunity and a clean, prosperous future are waiting on the other side.
We read marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog every day, and today’s struck as particularly salient – he notes that just 20% of 2009 college graduates who applied for jobs actually have one. His prescription (below) largely coincides with a piece of advice that we repeat ad nauseum: while there might not be green jobs (or jobs at all) at the moment, there will be in 6 months or a year or two years, and you should be ready. Spend this time getting yourself ahead of the pack by volunteering, studying, training, networking. Here are Seth’s thoughts:
Fewer college grads have jobs than at any other time in recent memory—a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual student survey said that 20 percent of 2009 college graduates who applied for a job actually have one. So, what should the unfortunate 80% do?
How about a post-graduate year doing some combination of the following (not just one, how about all):
- Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
- Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery.
- Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
- Start, run and grow an online community.
- Give a speech a week to local organizations.
- Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
- Learn a foreign language fluently.
- Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
- Self-publish a book.
- Run a marathon.
Beats law school.
If you wake up every morning at 6, give up TV and treat this list like a job, you’ll have no trouble accomplishing everything on it. Everything! When you do, what happens to your job prospects?
Penned by Christina
Stick to your routine. Do you usually work-out in the mornings or wear a suit to work?! If so, keep doing it! The NYT agrees with this one.
Set-up an ASG* (Accountability Support Group.) If you have friends or acquaintances also looking for a job, set up a “check-in group” to bring structure and accountability into the process. You’d be surprised how motivating it is to have a friend ask you, “So did you call those 3 people you said you would?”
Stay positive. I know you have heard this about 1000 times but for the 1001st time, I’d like to add that you should find something that is uplifting that you can come back to as needed. That could mean joining a soccer league that gets you out running around on grass and really feeling the “team spirit” again. But it can be even simpler that that… My own personal choice for a 5 minute pick-me-up is listening to a story or two from This I Believe on NPR. Hearing others share stories of dealing with obstacles much more harrowing than your own can put your own situation in perspective, help you feel grateful for all that you DO have and restore your energy to keep on keepin’ on! Try a few and see how you feel! (Send me your favorites!)
* Don’t worry, this is a made-up acronym…you aren’t behind on some fancy new lingo or anything.
Penned by Nick
So I admit it, I’m a news junkie. My fiance is quietly considering putting me into therapy for information addiction disorder. Its got me by the brain, (quickly deteriorating) eyes, and mouse-clicking finger all at once. Worse yet, I don’t want to kick the habit. I crave information and news 24/7.
Just as everyone’s nearing total burnout on the never-ending news stream of bad news, I’m finally feeling in control. It’s weird, but the more I consider it, the more it makes sense. The world’s changing fast right now — particularly for job seekers. Entire industries are rising and falling by the week, and with them, the fortunes of millions of people. The bad news is already a known quantity–it’s the good news that keeps me reading and positive.
At a time when the only certainty is change, I’ve come to enjoy the little news stories that feature people doing positive things with unfortunate events. Consider the new crop of DJ’s popping up in local clubs, or the unemployed who are discovering their thespian talents.
Another small factoid: I consider myself a pessmistic planner with an optimistic outlook. Yes, times are tough, but I’m convinced that from all the penny-penching and thumb-twiddling will come something greater: a cultural renaissance. That the arts are enjoying a newfound constituency in the unemployed is, I believe, a newsworthy story. Out of misfortune and hard times tradtionally come great ideas and a newfound inspiratoin. It’s a story as old as time, but easy to forget. For those who have, join me, and “read all about it“.
Penned by Nick
It’s been a peripatetic week. I’ve got just a few short observations to offer, all with one general theme: there’s a lot going on around us that we aren’t paying attention to. Most good, some bad.
Despite the fact I feel like I have few hours to myself every day, I still manage to parse the NY Times daily. Their article on things anyone can do to help be part of the solution to unemployment is refreshing, insightful, challenging, and inspiring all at once. Give it a read–it could change your whole frame of thinking.
My own frame of reference took a big step this week when I observed a few Everyday Heroes installing PV panels in Richmond. Solar Richmond inspired me in a new way this past week, and reaffirmed my belief that green jobs are more than just a pathway out of poverty–they are the path to the future.
Despite that, unemployment continues to climb towards double digits in states nationwide (North Carolina and Oregon now both in double digits). Bright Green Talent itself is feeling the squeeze, though still able to catch a few rays of sun. Our in-house Everyday Hero, Squire Tom, continues to champion and inspire. We’re chasing rainbows and believe we’re near the pot of green gold. Stay tuned…we’re running into new fields. More to come.
On our lunch break today, we saw this guy walking down Market Street in San Francisco: “sign of the times”? All puns aside, we know things are tough out there, but Bright Green Talent is here to help.
Penned by Nick
It’s been a brutal year to be a recruiter. We launched Bright Green Talent US on January 7, 2008–1 month into the recession. One year later, it’s only gotten worse: unemployment is nearing decade-long highs, and the green movement is struggling to get its feet underneath itself. Just Friday we learned the economy has shed nearly 600,000 jobs.
In the weeks ahead, our team will share their varied perspectives on where the green jobs are, how to get them, and what the future of the industry looks like.
But first, the cold splash of morning water: it’s really ugly out there, and it likely won’t get better for a while. To bridge the next 6 months, Bright Green has made adjustments. For business owners looking for fresh ideas on what’s worked, consider the following:
2) Diversify your revenue streams. Things are moving quickly, and you need to adjust. Chaos means opportunity for the entrepreneurial;
3) Control headcount, scale back marketing, and focus on reaching more people with fewer internal resources; and
For job seekers, it’s important to bear the lessons above in mind. The Federal government is brawling over a stimulus plan that’s focused on job creation. Green jobs could benefit, or get lost in the shuffle. To keep the movement alive, rally your elected officials to keep funding towards green jobs in the stimulus.
Once you’ve called the calvary, make sure your sword’s sharp for close range battle with other job seekers:
As ever, BGT’s here to help. Together we’ll make it through this tough time.