Posts tagged ‘values’
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 Christina
Last night I enthusiastically attended the book launch for Adam Werbach’s new book, Strategy for Sustainability. (For those of you who don’t know who Adam Werbach is, read on or learn about his company, Saatchi & Saatchi S). They had a ton of great speakers, drumming, drinks and fire dancers!
During the performance, the drummers talked about what culture really means, how critical it is for society and how it connects to sustainability. I can never hear enough of that type of thinking! I was also reminded that Saatchi & Saatchi S focuses on and problem-solves utilizing SEEC – social, environmental, economic and cultural dimensions. It really warmed my heart (and not only due to my proximity to the fire!) to see a thriving company that has pushed the boundaries of progressive business thinking.
(Photo by Nathan Wyeth)
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.
For every 50 new resumes registered on our site before September 1, we will fund the education of a child in Madagascar for one year.
At the end of 2008, Bright Green Talent quietly made a donation to a Malagasy school to help put a child through education for one year for every placement we’ve made. And now, we want to more people involved. This month, we’re launching a new campaign to turn our goals into action:
At Bright Green Talent, we’re always looking for ways to spread our social and environmental aims beyond the impact we can make just by placing two, ten or a hundred people into jobs. We recognize the need to ensure that we provide ‘Talent for a Bright Green Future’ at each and every turn – not just in London or San Francisco, but in Africa, Asia, Latin America and beyond. And we believe strongly in “paying it forward” – helping others so that the favor can eventually come back around as we all strive towards meaningful livelihood in a cleaner future.
One of our co-founders, Tom, also founded Blue Ventures, an award-winning organization working in Madagascar, and in light of his experience and the recent political troubles in Madagascar, we were compelled to contribute to creating a sustainable future for these children. Bright Green Talent’s donation provides scholarships to help finance a teacher, food and accommodation for children from surrounding villages so they can study in Andavadoaka (many villages don’t have a school).
As Blue Ventures says, ‘these donations are vital to help educate the next generation of people living and working to protect the surrounding fragile coastal ecosystems in which they rely for their livelihoods. Without these donations many of these children would not receive any formal education.’
Education – both about environmental issues and to promote economic security and development – is key to promoting stewardship of the world’s natural resources. The actions of every single person around the world count.
Why send your resume to us?
Our aim – to collect resumes – is evidently not just about Madagascar: we’re readying ourselves for the wave of green jobs mounting on the horizon, and we want to have a willing green workforce so that we can help companies quickly find the right person to grow out their sustainability initiatives. In the meantime, we’ll continue to provide resources, opportunities, and coaching to help prepare you as those jobs become available. And don’t fear – we never, ever pass on resumes without approval from our candidates.
So by registering your resume with us, you open yourself to new positions without any drawbacks — and you help spread education, knowledge, and stewardship around the world.
Thanks for spreading this note far and wide to help us help people around the world find a more meaningful, sustainable livelihood.
If you’ve already registered with Bright Green Talent, but would like to contribute directly to help these children, please click here.
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.
Penned by Carolyn
There’s been a fair amount of news and public service announcements recently about kids and cyber-bullying – the basic concept being that kids will say things online that they would never say to a friend or peer in person.
This phenomenon unfortunately sometimes applies to adults as well. In your jobsearch especially, e-mail etiquette is just as important as phone etiquette, the way you’d speak to someone in person, or how you’d present yourself in a cover letter.
We’ve had several cases recently of finding people we were excited about putting forward for a job… and then we received an email from them that was rude, out of line, or just so strange that we had to reconsider whether we really wanted to support that candidate.
A golden rule of online jobsearching and interaction: you’re still dealing with PEOPLE. There is a real person – with feelings, and an ego, and their own personality – on the other end of the communications you send out.
Think to yourself – If you met the recruiter or hiring manager in person, would you still communicate in the same way as you do on email? Make the same claims? Use the same tone? Be as pushy?
There is a thin line between assertiveness and aggressiveness that is even harder to walk in the online space. While we’re not telling you to be too meek or passive, it’s better to err on the side of politeness than rub someone the wrong way and get blackballed altogether by the company.
Some thoughts from our founder, Paul Hannam, on why people are so intrigued and inspired by the idea of a green job.
Penned by Nick
We’re 5 people at BGT, working with over 10,000 green jobseekers. For those who want to do the math, it means we’re averaging ~2,000 relationships per person. The majority of these relationships are our source of inspiration–new ideas from new people wanting to find new careers.
However, every once in a while we cross a candidate who has a different view on who BGT is, and what we should be doing.
Last week we received the following note from a candidate:
We believe in honest dialogue and transparency at BGT. Instead of hiding this comment in the dark, it’s worth airing out.
We receive more demand for our services than we’re able to meet. We’re doing our best to scale to meet demand, but it takes time. When folks are unemployed and looking for a new green career, it can seem like an eternity. We get it.
More importantly, it means a lot to us that folks are holding us accountable and looking to us for guidance. But at times, it feels like our candidate lose perspective and think that they’re the only one who’s unemployed, or that their skillset is so strong that they deserve a job.
The hard reality is that we can’t place everyone (though it’s our goal!). It’s not that we don’t want to help–quite to the contrary, that’s our driving motivation. We’re insanely service-oriented–check out Christina’s feedback for a few examples of the praise we’ve received.
We can’t be all things to all people. That’s obvious. In the cases where it’s not, trust that we’re taking the long-view, that we value every relationship, and that where we can, we’re helping folks in a variety of ways: career counseling, job placement, industry information, etc.
This is a collective movement towards a brighter, greener future. It will take time–for those willing to join us for the long haul, we look forward to an opportunity to work together to realize our common vision.