Archive for March, 2009

Linking People and Planet: Our Partnership with Solar Richmond

Penned by Christina

christina-srYou 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.

solar-richmond-logo3Our 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

March 31, 2009 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

Tom’s (Rules of) Thumb: My Latest Article in Sublime

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.

tom-savage

March 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm Leave a comment

Can Social Media Lead to a Green Job? A Tweet for Thought.

mattpenned by Matt

Here at Bright Green Talent, we talk a lot about social media. We try to figure out how to use the tools at our disposal to best reach our audience. At a social media webinar last week focusing mostly on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, the moderator asserted that the more connections that you have through these outlets, the closer you get to reaching your target audience (based on 6 degrees of separation) – whoever that may be (a potential customer, employer, etc.).

But can social media be green?

This question struck me while working on a Pottery Barn photo shoot this week (I work occasionally for them while I career transition – see last week’s post on how to transition into a green career) producing their print catalog (the ones you may get in the mail every season).

Although I have been working with this client on and off for a few years, things had dramatically changed this time; a morning debriefing session revealed that 80% of their product sales (sofas, tables, bedding, etc.) were purchased online. During this morning meeting, a flurry of keywords and web 2.0 concepts (pre-coffee, mind you!) was dropped on us: Blogs, Tweets, Search Engine Optimization, YouTube, Owning a Category for Search-ability on Sofas, etc.

Now since this is exactly what I have been working on with Bright Green Talent, I got excited, but my enthusiasm didn’t stop there…

You have to realize that Pottery Barn is quite a conservative organization and has been resistant to change for many years — it’s a subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma Inc. and very large, with over 200 stores nationwide and millions of $ in annual revenue. It didn’t always used to be sales ratio of 80-20 (internet-catalog) — in fact it used to be the exact opposite. The mail order catalog has been integral to Pottery Barn’s past success, filled with enticing images of fine living that are very effective at selling LOTS of product. Now, although times are tough in retail, Pottery Barn is still a robust company with a surprisingly nimble quality – they may be late adopters to such things as digital photography and e-commerce, but once they move, they move fast.

And fast they are moving to (what I can see will be) the elimination of the paper catalog completely, replacing it with e-commerce and interactive web tools. We are seeing this trend with all forms of printed word, including newspapers and magazines. All of these businesses are trying to reinvent themselves – to become more transparent, more authentic, and more engaged with their audience. Not only is this a better option for all the trees of the world (Pottery Barn puts out tens of millions of catalogs a year), it also opens up a HUGE opportunity for a generation of facebook-savvy social media web nerds.

I can only imagine that there is a team of web gurus, leading the “new” Pottery Barn through the darkness that is social media and e-commerce. You may think that this is a waste of time or not really sure how to use it, but the numbers do not lie…Facebook  reaches 79 million/month, LinkedIn has 30 million professionals, Twitter reaches 6.1 million/month, YouTube – 80 million/month (Quantcast).

If you can learn how to leverage this opportunity and become a social media expert web guru, you WILL be an asset to any organization. At the very least, you can put these skills in your tool belt.

It has helped me 😉

And used creatively you may also be able to call it a green job.

March 26, 2009 at 5:17 am 1 comment

Green Career Coaching: Launch is a Success!

Christina headshotLast 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!

March 24, 2009 at 10:14 pm 1 comment

Keeping your personal life separate from your green job application process…

Carolyn HeadshotPenned 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.

Facebook:

  • 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.

Twitter:

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”

Gmail:

  • 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.grandaspirations.org/index.html (Nationwide)
http://www.green.dc.gov/green/cwp/view,a,1233,q,461478.asp (Washington, D.C.)

March 24, 2009 at 5:17 am 1 comment

Morality and Green Jobs – Our Work with Wal-Mart

dsc_1294-1Penned 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.

March 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm 3 comments

The long road to a green career: perspectives of a green career transition -er.

matt

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!

March 19, 2009 at 9:02 pm 2 comments

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