Posts tagged ‘skills’
Jobseeking can be a lonely, self-centered process. People often sit alone day after day, slogging through job boards, online applications and career fairs where the continual refrain is “apply through our site.” It’s easy to start to feel like they are constantly asking favors of friends and friends-of-friends to connect them to organizations who may or may not be hiring. Highly-qualified candidates begin to question whether they do indeed have much to offer since rejection, or even worse silence, seems to indicate otherwise. If you fall into this category, please remember that it is an extremely challenging time to be looking for a job – be it green or otherwise!
Amidst all the statistics about skyrocketing unemployment and mass layoffs, the story that is often missing is the psychological toll brought on by a prolonged job search in a bad economy. Jobseekers feel powerless, that their skills aren’t valued, and that their voices aren’t being heard. As a career coach at Bright Green Talent, I have seen this time and again with the most impressive people you can imagine.
One of the most important messages I try to convey is this: Just as critical to a successful job search as resume polishing, cover letter writing and networking is finding ways to empower yourself.
The best way to do this can sometimes seem counter intuitive but is tried and true — helping others. Rather than asking all of your contacts for connections, help another jobseeker find career opportunities. Join a mentoring network through your alumni association or nonprofits groups such as Upwardly Global. Find a volunteer project where you can contribute your unique skills to help an organization grow. Join Net Impact and take on a leadership role in your local chapter.
I should emphasize that this is not an argument for creating good karma. It is because the simple act of helping in and of itself is a way to move yourself in the right direction – from helpless to helper. This action has a variety of benefits that have been studied at length within positive psychology but when it comes down to it, we feel better about ourselves when we help other people. If you are a jobseeker, it is critical to understand that this will not only help you cope after long days of seemingly wasted time, but will also keep you articulate and sharp for when you get a chance to ‘pitch yourself’ in an interview or networking event.
For our own part at Bright Green Talent, we’re always trying to find ways to help our social and environmental impact reach around the world to the places where it’s needed most. We recently launched a campaign in which, for every 50 resumes that are registered with us, we’ll sponsor the education of a child in Madagascar for one year. Yes, having more resumes on hand helps us place people into meaningful careers with environmentally-minded organizations more quickly — recruiting is, to some extent, simply a matter of being able to find the right people at the right time.
Beyond that, we believe this campaign plays into the concept of empowering jobseekers to feel that they’re part of a larger movement of good work. Education – both about environmental issues and to promote economic security and development – is key to promoting stewardship of the world’s natural resources. Spreading education and opportunity to others, is one of the most important tasks we can take on whether employed or not.
So if you are a jobseeker, find ways to pay it forward. Your actions are more powerful than you can ever know both for the receiver and for yourself!
Christina Gilyutin, Bright Green Talent’s Director of Development and Chief Career Counselor, attended Stanford University before heading over to the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute of Global Sustainable Enterprise, where she earned a joint MBA/MS in Natural Resources and Environment.
Penned by Carolyn
Last night, Christina (our career coach extraordinaire) spoke at the San Francisco Net Impact monthly chapter meeting, which was focused around green jobs. Leonard Adler, head of www.greenjobs.net, organized the event and provided some really valuable insight as well — videos to come soon.
Probably the most interesting element of the event for us was the 20 minutes that the audience spent sharing their own tips, success stories, and warnings about searching for a job. Some really amazing insight was put out there, and we wanted to share some of their thoughts on staying positive and effective while you’re unemployed or jobseeking:
- If you’re unemployed, keep a schedule. Whether it’s walking your dog each day, going to the grocery store, keeping an active calendar of networking events, you can keep structure and motivation by sticking to a daily schedule.
- Seeking out volunteer leadership roles will give others a chance to see how you work and be able to recommend you based on work ethic, organization and other elements that might not come through when you apply or interview for a position.
- Networking is a two-way street: keep helping others by connecting acquaintances with similar interests or recommending other jobseekers for roles you know are open. Keeping this up whether you’re jobseeking or not is empowering and will keep your network connected and active.
- Get out in front of people. Jobseeking can make you spend a lot of time alone, and you can fall out of practice in terms of presenting yourself and your spiel. The more you interact with others, the better you’ll do when you eventually have to present yourself in an interview.
- It’s never too late to take an internship, especially if you need to gather skills to move into a new sector.
- Whenever you reach out to people you don’t know or peripherally know, do it thoughtfully. Find your common interests, point out your shared connections, or remark on something that’s happening in their company or industry. Not doing so is wasting a big opportunity to connect on an emotional, social level.
- Find free jobseeker support services — such as the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s weekly Job Forum.
- Don’t forget the basics. Applying for a green job is still applying for a job: make sure there are no spelling, grammar, or other basic mistakes in your resume. Tailor each resume and cover letter to the particular role.
Thanks to Julie and Adam Menter and the rest of the SF Net Impact Professional Chapter for organizing the event. Like many chapters across the country, the group hosts monthly meetings for its members with interesting speakers and opportunities to meet people working for social responsibility in business. Learn more about Net Impact and join at www.netimpact.org.
More photos on our Flickr feed.
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.
3. If you want, mention when you’re available to talk.
“Hi, Nick, this is Carolyn Mansfield calling you back. You left a message for me yesterday about the Director of Marketing role, and I’d love to find a few moments to chat about it today. I’m available all afternoon and tomorrow morning. You can reach me at 555.555.5555. Again, this is Carolyn Mansfield calling about the Marketing role and my number is 555.555.5555. Thanks, and look forward to speaking with you!”
We just started using Scribd to post our documents, such as a sample resume and our extensive interview preparation packet. Log in to our Greenhouse to access the others!
Penned by Carolyn
We always encourage students and grads (and everyone else!) to volunteer with environmentally-focused organizations/initiatives in order to network, get some green experience on their resume and do good as they’re jobsearching.
So, you ask: What opportunities are there to dive into a green career through volunteering?
Non-profits: Given the state of the economy, non-profits need a lot of help right now and could really value your volunteer time. Find a non-profit in your area that works on issues you’re interested in – policy, water issues, international development, etc. Do keep in mind that it’s better to focus on a specific project that you are willing to help with or spearhead. Idealist.org has an extensive list of volunteer opportunities that you can sort by interest and location to get a sense for what’s out there. Find your local Sierra Club chapter; Green for All has resources on how to support green jobs growth in your local community.
Get down and dirty: Add some manpower to a green building project and get industry exposure at the same time. GRID Alternatives is popular in the Bay Area, where volunteers help install solar panels on low-income housing. Habitat for Humanity has some green building related projects as well. Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco asks for volunteers to help with tree-planting. Find your local community garden project or farmer’s market and offer to help out. Join AmeriCorps for a year of service. Go help clean up your local park, or find a summer or seasonal job in a National Park through The Student Conservation Association.
Get political: Find your state PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and help them canvass and push green legislation in your state (we’ve got Environment California here in the Bay Area). Apply to spend a year working with GreenCorps, a year-long hands-on training program around the U.S. that breeds the country’s top environmental organizers (and has a really strong job placement program and alumni network to take advantage of at the end).
Go abroad! Foundation for Sustainable Development places students and recent grads in internships in developing countries around the world. You are placed in a domestic non-profit there depending on your development-related interests and can design your own project, seek funding, and get some great hands-on experience… all while experiencing a new culture. Ecoteer.com connects you with green volunteer opportunities around the world. Join Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) and spend some time trading your work for room and board in one of many countries around the world that hosts a WWOOF network.
Take a “pay the bills job” and volunteer for a company you’re interested in. Make sure you have a specific project suggestion to put in front of them, rather than just willingness to work. For example, a 2007 graduate named Ajay sent us this note about his efforts to get “green” experience. He works for a utility, and offers a few days a week for free to a solar company in the area, who he reached through a contact there (go network!). As he says, “The more I work with this solar manufacturer, the more people I meet and the more people know my name.” Troll green job boards such as Treehugger and GreenBiz for unpaid internships or volunteering; use contacts at these organizations and others to find out whether you can lend a hand.
Network: Another example is helping to organize green networking events in your city. Green Drinks is a great monthly meet-up that has chapters in many cities. Contact your local chapter to help organize; if none exists, start one up! We’re working with an amazing team of Green Drinks volunteers here in San Francisco that are helping set up a “Green Careers Connections” event – by doing so, they’re networking with eachother and getting to reach out to lots of companies that they might be interested in working for themselves. We’re also big fans of Net Impact – lend a hand with your local chapter and get connected to passionate professionals.
Conferences need volunteers. When you hear a green conference is coming to town, find out ways to volunteer with the organization and actual conference. Green Festivals needs lots of hands on deck; keep an eye on GreenBiz‘s list of events for whether anything’s being planned for near you.
If you’re already out there volunteering, send us a success story of how it’s helped you in the job search process!
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 Tom
A few weeks ago, we asked you to send in your questions… and you did, they poured in – thank you! Over the coming weeks, I’ll be trying to respond to some of these.
What are the top skills required to work in the green economy?
Obviously the skills required vary according to the jobs you’re hunting for – yet there are some interesting constants within the green movement. We hear certain trends over-and-over from organizations hiring in this sector. These are not exhaustive, nor exclusive, but they’ll give you an idea of the themes out there:
- Experience is often as important as skills, unless you are applying for a highly skills-based position (i.e. solar engineer).
- Experience is almost always more important than education.
- Organizations want people who’ve got business experience, as well as environmental experience; thereby demonstrating a wider skill set.
- The ‘ideal’ candidate is often someone who combines the two of these.
- You can be too green. Organizations (including the non-profits) need people who understand how a business functions and is practical and realistic. If you refuse to use computers, fly or travel to work by car, for environmental reasons, you’re going to reduce the chances of getting many positions.
- General environmental degrees are useful, but won’t distinguish you from the best people out there without these degrees. i.e. someone with a masters in environmental studies won’t always trump someone with a top degree from a good school – although obviously every little bit helps.
- The top skills at the moment are generally specific to specialist roles, such as; engineering, solar technicians, energy assessors, planners.
- You can determine which of these are ‘hot’ or not by glancing over green job boards.
- Look through the recent moves by governments to stimulate interest in the green economy, there are clear trends that indicate which skills are in demand.
- Check Carolyn’s previous post about skills for students
- Also, see Raj’s post on technical (specifically solar) skills
Until next week!