Posts tagged ‘time’

Paying It Forward: The Benefits of Helping Others During Your Job Search

christina_thumbJobseeking 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.

July 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

Wisdom of the Net Impact Crowd

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.

July 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm Leave a comment

Bright Green Survey Results: Jobseekers Willing, Waiting, Wondering

Carolyn ThumbnailPenned 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.

June 18, 2009 at 5:07 pm 4 comments

Dive In: 21 Places to Look for Green Volunteering Opportunities

Carolyn ThumbnailPenned 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!

May 12, 2009 at 6:00 pm 2 comments

On Not Being All Things to All People

nick_thumbPenned 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:

“Have tried twice to get something meaningful from Bright Green and on both occasions have been told you can’t help in any way… not sure what sort of recruiter does not want to talk to prospective candidate, one with a strong financial background and on Imperial Sustainability masters – but it does seem a little strange. Would be good if you could think about how you can help people find the direction you mention above if they are entering a new job area in the green space.”

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.

May 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

Making Time

Part of our commitment to growing (see value 2) is refining the ways we work to ensure we’re making the most of our time and maximising our output. And as any entrepreneur/manager will tell you, this requires sometimes making tough choices (see value 4 – go the values!)

Here is a great article (with some good links to further articles) which might help and here are my additional thoughts:

1) Taming emails

Increasingly, I am unable to respond to all the emails I receive, resulting in some tough ‘delete’ decisions for emails I’d like to respond to. If you receive 150 emails a day, and can only write 100, you have to get a PA, or learn to delete, cut back and write shorter replies. Sorry to those of you who don’t get replies from me, but it’s not physically possible to reply to everyone! This article is a great starting point for solving your email-blues.

2) Eliminate unnecessary meetings

It makes sense, but is difficult to do. I always try to call people first as opposed to meet with them, saving time and carbon! Yes, a meeting is very valuable and 10 mins in a meeting is worth 30 on the phone, but you need to work out which meetings to attend.

A couple of extras from me:

3) Let people leave you a message

Don’t pick up your mobile if you don’t recognise the number. Ring them back when you’re ready for the call!

4) Plan your day

15 mins spent planning at the beginning of the day will be worth at least that by the time you finish. It also helps you compartmentalise your mind so you’re not juggling 15 thins at once.

5) Taking time with important things

Alongside all of this time-saving, there must be the understanding and commitment to spending time with the things that are important, whether exercising, talking to colleagues or getting some R&R. A hero of mine (Leonard Cheshire) said ‘When you have a pile of work to get through, pick up each piece as if it’s the only thing you’re doing to do that day’. Which I translate to mean, do 5 things well, not 10 things badly, because in the end, it’ll be worth it.

Oh and 6) Enjoy the extra time you create!

December 17, 2007 at 3:53 pm Leave a comment


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