Education Career Services

May 6, 2010

The Hidden Job Market for the New Energy Economy

What is a green job?

According to the UN Environment Program, a green job is “…work in agricultural, manufacturing, R&D, administrative, and service activities that contribute to restoring environmental quality.  Specifically, this includes jobs that protect ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce energy and water consumption, decarbonize the economy, and minimize pollution.”

A month ago, we discussed the explosive growth and income-generating potential green jobs have to offer despite a volatile economy.  We also explored the process of transitioning from a traditional corporate role to a position driven by social responsibility and environmental activism.  Now, the question remains, how does one find a green job?

The traditional method is to explore popular, online job boards.  There are the mainstream job boards such as CareerBuilder, Monster, and Simply Hired.  However, you are not going to find a plethora of green collar positions upon such general job boards.  It would benefit you to consider cleantech job boards for opportunities related to environmental responsibility.  TreeHugger’s Job Board and greenjobsearch.org are more fruitful options for a targeted search.  In addition, there are job boards focused on specific areas within the green industry, such as Jobs in the Wind from the American Wind Energy Association.

However, employers may not advertise a job opportunity with an online job board for multiple reasons.  The company of your dreams may be a startup and not possess an HR department.  They cannot handle the volume of response acquired from postings on CareerBuilder.com or other broad-based postings.  Therefore, other strategies to hunt for green jobs arise.  Consider the possibilities within the hidden green job market:

1) Networking

Networking is a crucial skill any graduate entering the job market or seasoned professional can possess.  How else will you meet the contacts necessary to acquire a new position in the cleantech industry? Attend green events such as EcoTuesday, GreenDrinks, Green Festivals, or events sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society. 

For green networking tips, visit http://www.planetfriendly.net/networkingtips.html

2) Contact the companies directly

Many sustainable energy companies publish job listings on their website, as opposed to external recruitment for candidates.  To gain access to these opportunities, candidates should identify enterprises they would be interested in working for.  Tactics to review and assess prospective companies include:

* Going to green memberships to review their lists of relevant employers.  Examples incorporate the American Solar Energy Society, American Wind Energy Association, Geothermal Energy Association, Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, and the Electric Auto Association.
* Review the exhibitor/presenter list at industry conferences.  For instance, there were 400+ organizations at a recent Intersolar conference sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society.
* Read as many green publications as possible, such as Global Green USA. Green Career journals/magazines will have multifarious news articles highlighting prospective employers.
* Go to the National Green Pages to discover a sustainable energy business directory.

3) Academic Institutions

Academic institutions should offer an encyclopedic array of job-related resources for colleges and students, including job fairs and listings.  In response to the growing demand for green jobs, Columbia University and Stanford University are holding Energy and Environmental Career Fairs in the fall.  The University of Illinois and University of Minnesota also are holding sustainable energy career fairs.  Most importantly, academic institutions are a quintessential place to engage in networking.

4) Recruiters

In response to the gigantic growth arising in green jobs, recruiters have begun to specialize in careers involving sustainability.  Examples of green recruiters include The Green Recruiter, Lotus Partners, Bright Green Talent, and Commongood Careers.

5) Membership Organizations

Industry associations and other membership-oriented organizations generate job postings along with their member services.  For instance, Net Impact, a national organization focusing on actualizing business for social justice, offers career services and an annual green career expo.

6) Online Social Media

Company representatives (including hiring managers) often utilize social media to perform their own outreach initiatives for prospective candidates.  For instance, the Green Jobs and Career Network group on LinkedIn provides job postings in locations worldwide.

7) E-Mail Lists

E-mail lists for sustainable energy jobs are also an excellent method of penetrating the hidden job market.  Most of these are free for job seekers to join, including EnviJobs, Green Job List, and YNPN.

Despite the recession, the American job market is growing fast for green careers.  According to the American Solar Energy Society’s green jobs report, “…green industries already generate 9 million jobs in the U.S., and with appropriate public policy, could grow to 40 million jobs by 2030.”  In a recent NY Times article noted, “…56,000 newly trained workers and 14,000 project managers are needed to realize our current administration’s one-year goals for energy efficiency alone.”

So, now go out there and save our Mother Earth! Green careers lead to prosperity and job security.  You will also be strengthening and healing both our economy and planet.

Presented by Victoria Andrew, professional writer for Career Services International

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