Posts tagged ‘carolyn’
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.
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!”
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
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!